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A major need in our "hobby" is getting children interested in their heritage. We are preparing a presentation to give at a 4-H Club and would like to point to some sources they can go to for more information. Does anyone have any suggestions? Should this topic be a group topic or is it okay under forums?

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Artifacts, heirlooms and memorabilia might be a great way to generate discussion between the generations. We're all visually and tactilely oriented so seeing and touching something from a persons or family's past is a great conversation starter and oftentimes promotes recollections from the past. A brief discussion about oral history, interviewing and clues to our past might include these. I know I was always asking about people in photographs, my fathers military medals, antique dishes that were used on special occasions. Each one had a story to tell.

Taking today's headlines and comparing them to our family's past might help as well. Families today have experienced 9/11 and the resulting war, econimic downturns, weather related incidents (floods, etc.). Talking about how either their parents, grandparents or even great-grandparents lived through similar experiences (world wars, Korea, Vietnam), the Great Depression, etc. might generate more discussion between the generations.

I'd be curious to find out how this goes as we're thinking of approaching our local 4H clubs as well to do programming.
Thank you for your suggestions, Russ. We suggest in our program they look at the things in their homes to start with and include items like their baby books, parents Christmas card lists, yearbooks, etc. Family gatherings are always great places to pull out the photo albums or something that has special meeting to everyone. I also like the idea of comparing current history with the history of our grandparents, etc. It is a good angle:)

Check with the Ohio State Extension Service, Columbus, OH. The have a 4-H workbook for genealogy and I know of at least one county, Geauga, that has run a successful genealogy 4-H program.

Thanks again.
One way that I found to get kids started in Genealogy is to use History as a starting block. Why history do you ask? It would show how someone like you or I could be related to someone that they had learned about in school. My historical person that I can date back to is the first ALDRICH that came to MA in 1632 from England. George ALDRICH and 16 other men were the founding fathers to what we know now as Mendon, MA.
From that point you can then show them how to start their own family research by asking questions to their living relatives as well as have them to write down any of the family stories that they know.
Wish you the best on this...Let us know how it goes.
Eunice. Thank you for your suggestion. Placing a member of your family in an important part of history is a good idea, a good possibility since we live in DE with so much history surrounding us. Not everone has a famous or well-known historical figure in their family line, but almost everyone has someone who lived during a historical period. This could go hand-in-hand with Russ' suggestion. A good timeline program would be useful to promote.

I ran a program for some local Girl Scouts for two years, about six years ago. The program was about four sessions long, including a field trip to NEHGS to look up 1920 and 1930 census records! One grandmother found herself in the 1930 census records, and I remember everyone at NEHGS applauded, even the other patrons and professional genealogists! Imagine, to these kids, the 1920's censuses were their grandparents and great grandparents! The four sections were pedigrees and charts, oral histories and primary sources, using the computer, and the field trip.

I think I ran the program three times over. The focus was for girls in the middle school ages (Cadette Girl Scouts) and they had to bring a female family member with them. We had girls bring a nice assortment of Moms, grandmothers and aunts. The older generation did a nice job of helping the young girls fill out the oral histories, and most of the adults went on to continue this as a serious hobby, but I'm sad to say only one young girl continued on with genealogy. Another girl called me up last year to help her with a college project, which was nice, so I'm hoping that someday those other girls will continue with genealogy sometime in the future. I look forward to those phone calls!
Hello, Heather. What a wonderful project you ran. I can imagine how exciting it was for the girls to see someone find their information and go on a field trip. I think combined with the historic timelines a good program could be formed. I looked at the Girl Scouts Web Site and could not find any badge for family history or genealogy and I was surprised at that. I know the Boy Scouts have a program.

I hope you are right and your introduction to genealogy will spur your students to come back to genealogy in the future.

At the time I did this program there was no badge for genealogy, either, for the Girls. It was just an interest group. I'd love to do it again, but since that time the Girl Scout program has moved even further away from badgework and interest groups. I will say that NEHGS was thrilled to have the young ladies there, and not many youth groups were taking advantage of their library at that time. I hope that has changed in the last five years.
It is such a shame that the Girl Scouts are not looking forward and establishing a program on the past--especially since girls are supposed to be the nurturers and family stalwarts! (Sigh, I know--role modeling is not a good thing.) With so many libraries either closing or restricting services/hours, it is important for groups to take up the slack.

Thanks for doing what you did. It seems to have worked for a couple of your students.
Another good website for kids working on their family trees is They have activities you can do and a Junior Toolkit. My son is almost 8 and loves anything that makes him feel like a detective (he's just starting to have a little interest in family history -- we just learned about Ellis Island). You could take that approach...
Thanks, Monica. That is another good idea. I will check the site out. We have tried to use pictures of puzzle pieces in the presentation but I imagine a "sherlock holmes" image would be fun as well:)






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