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Published Date

January 1, 2004

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

This lesson is designed to illustrate ways that a family history project may be incorporated into a modern world history survey. Using one family history as an example, the lesson guides students through the process of examining a primary source photograph, making valid inferences and generalizations, and conducting research. The research leads to additional primary sources and to secondary sources that assist the student in contextualizing the primary sources and constructing an historical narrative. By personalizing large historical events and trends through a family’s history, students are motivated to engage in historical research at a deeper level than often occurs in a survey course.

Lesson Objectives

  1. To demonstrate to world history survey students the personal link between individual lives and larger historical events and trends, particularly in modern world history.
  2. To demonstrate the technique of photoanalysis using primary source photographs.
  3. To enhance the student’s ability to distinguish between observation and inference.
  4. To model the process of historical research.

Students may do a project based on their own family’s history, but may use another family’s history with equal success. What is important is the process of researching a family’s history and constructing a narrative linking the family’s history to larger events and trends.

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Content Warning

This page contains words or ideas that might be offensive to modern readers. To maintain the accuracy of historical documentation, the content is reprinted in its entirety as it was originally published. This accurate reproduction of original historical texts therefore contains words and ideas that do not reflect the editorial decisions or views of the American Historical Association.