Published Date

January 1, 2004

This resource was developed as part of Linking Family History and World History by Linda Pomerantz.

The project as a whole has four objectives, all listed on the main page. These are:

  1. Connecting individual lives and world history
  2. Analysis of a primary source photograph
  3. Distinguishing between observation and inference
  4. Sharpening historical research skills

This project lends itself to a variety of student products, depending on the nature of the assignments the instructor develops related to family history. These assignments may consist of short reports on one or more segments of the family history project, to be graded individually or assembled in portfolio form and graded as a whole. Individual assessable segments might consist of:

  • Photoanalysis of a visual primary source on a family’s history
  • Examples of additional primary sources for the family’s history
  • Bibliography of secondary sources that provide historical context
  • Bibliography of on-line resources
  • Reports, research papers or web projects of varying lengths
  • Reflective journals recording the progress of the student’s research
  • Compare/contrast essays showing multiple perspectives based on two or more oral accounts of the same event


Taken as a whole, assessments should reflect the lesson objectives, and student work should be evaluated by how well the student has accomplished them.

The following criteria could be used to evaluate a final product generated by the family history project, with a scoring guide developed to reflect them:

Analysis of Visual Primary Source

  • Has the student asked appropriate questions relating to the source?

Valid Inferences

  • Are the inferences appropriate and insightful?


  • Does the student understand the distinctions among verified and unverified, correct and incorrect inferences?
  • Does the student understand the distinction between primary and secondary sources in historical research?
  • Has the student searched for and/or found additional primary sources? Have they been well chosen?
  • Has the student identified topics for historical investigation that are appropriate for understanding the family’s role in history?
  • Has the student explored her college’s library facilities and learned what resources can be used for this study?
  • Has the student explored on-line resources germane to the project?

Connections to World History

  • Has the student accurately identified themes and issues that link the family history to world history?

Does the student have an accurate grasp of the chronologies linking the family history to major events and trends in world history?

Connections to US and Twentieth Century History Surveys

Although this material has been developed for use in the world history survey course, aspects of it are certainly applicable to US history and twentieth century history survey courses. The individual stories could be used as “case studies” of immigrant life in the US, while small modifications would enable an instructor to use these materials in a course on twentieth century world or US history.