AP World/H4 Family History Project

NHPRC QIH Assignment Title:

AP World/H4 Family History Project   

NOTE: This assignment was created by the participant educator named below as part of the Queens Immigration History curriculum development project funded by a grant from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission division of the National Archives (grant #DH-50022-16).  For more information on this grant project, please visit the Queens Immigration History website  at https://queensimmigrationhistory.wordpress.com    

NHPRC QIH Assignment Creator:

Created by NHPRC Teacher Participant/Creator: Sean McManamon. 

Sean McManamon (C1, July 2017 – June 2018) is a teacher at Brooklyn Technical High School specializing in Advanced Placement World History. He has a Master’s Degree in History and publications in such topics as the Great Irish Famine, Japanese Tokugawa history and co-authored an AP World Review Book. He has been selected for a number of programs with institutions such as Gilder Lehrman, China Institute, Korea Society, the National Endowment for the Humanities and does curriculum writing for the New York City Department of Education. Born to immigrant parents in the Bronx, Sean regularly goes back to Ireland and has researched his family history back centuries.


1.  To apply historical thinking (complexity, causality, change over time, contingency, context). 

2. To create a project that will bring the world’s history "home" to the student.


·  Students will create a Family Tree,

·  Students will gather Family History, stories, and family lore through Oral History.

·  -Students will create an Additional Piece that will help them define their family.


To begin, schedule a time to meet or call with relatives who are old enough or knowledgeable enough to know your family’s history. Interview the older members of your family and ask them general questions about locations, dates, occupations, marriages. There are questions below that might help. You may have to contact someone overseas but it is a worthwhile endeavor.

  •  Don’t be discouraged if you cannot get all of the information, especially dates. Do the best you can. A decade is better than no time frame at all.
  • This project must never be thrown away and in some ways never ends either. This project will assume greater meaning in your life as you get older (as you get more “history”) and you will pass this info onto younger generations.


Students will read the following article in the days before the project is due in order to put the students in the right mindset for this task.  The Stories that Bind Us by Bruce Feiler in the New York Times, March 13th, 2013.  http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/17/fashion/the-family-stories-that-bind-us-this-life.html

Task 1:

Family Tree, which should get at least as far back as one Great-Grand Parent. Start with yourself. Use the template found at www.FamilyTreeTemplate.net or record it electronically using the URL. https://www.smartdraw.com/family-tree/family-tree-template.htm

Task 2:

Gather Family History, stories, and family lore that should be at least one side of a page in length.  Try to make connections with historical events such as Eastern Europe’s Ending of Communism, China’s Cultural Revolution (1966-1976),  or the Bangladesh Liberation War (Independence) in 1971. 

 Family History and Tree Questions:

  1.  Where and when were you born?
  2. Where and when were your parents born?
  3. What was your father’s occupation? Mother’s occupation?
  4. What level of education was achieved by members of your family?  
  5. Does your family recall/remember famous historical events such as WWII, European colonization, Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution, or the Bangladesh War for Independence in 1971? 
  6.  When did your family emigrate to America and how? \
  7.  Why did they emigrate? Was it only for economic reasons?
  8.  What surprised them about America? What did not surprise them?

Task 3:

 Create an Additional Piece that will help you define your family. Choose one from the following

  • Visualize as a Graphic History an important part of your family’s story (4 panels at least): use color, text, and images.

  • A Song (lyrics and recording) that is of particular social/cultural/religious importance to your family.

  • An Object (clothing, memento or photograph) that is of particular social/cultural/religious importance to your family.
  • An important family recipe that is of particular social/cultural/religious importance. Transcribe it, take a photo of them meal or even bring in a sample.
  • Record and archive your family’s personal history at the Queens Memory Project, the Brooklyn Historical Society or StoryCorps. https://storycorps.org/participate/storycorps-diy/ 

Day 1: Follow the models of a family History

Day 2: Students share out their project and recommend their neighbor’s projects

Day 3: Continue sharing out and recommending neighbor’s projects plus presentations of related extra credit assignments



Task 1: Document with Family tree, preferably going back to grandparents, where possible

Task 2: Document with Family Lore, at least one page in length

Task 3: Creative piece or object display that is of particular social/cultural/religious importance to your family history


Required Resources

Interview Questions:  Provided

Family Tree Templates

·        Printable Tree template:  www.FamilyTreeTemplate.net

·        Online/fillable tree template:  https://www.smartdraw.com/family-tree/family-tree-template.htm

Article:  The Stories that Bind Us by Bruce Feiler in the New York Times, March 13th, 2013  http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/17/fashion/the-family-stories-that-bind-us-this-life.html


More Resources from the NHPRCQIH LibGuide:

Genealogy Tab –   assistance with family tree and Genealogy resources

Oral History Tab –  links to local NYC Oral History Projects for contributing.

Queens Memory Project Tab – assistance with conducting open ended interviews, and local NYC interviews


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