Episode SevenGenealogical Research

Lesson Goal Learn how to conduct a family history interview and trace your family tree.


Step One - Introduction to Genealogical Research

  • Learn about doing genealogical research and complete the case study from the Introduction to Genealogical Research Worksheet
  • You'll learn more and complete your research with helpful websites from the box below

Step Two - Beginning Genealogical Research

  • Complete the Beginning Genealogical Research Worksheet
  • Jot down a few lines about who you think you are.

    I am:

    My family is:

    My people are from:

    We celebrate:

    We like:

    We do things together, like:

    I’ll be surprised to discover that:

Step Three - Typical Questions for Family History Interview

  • Complete the Typical Questions for Family History Interview Worksheet
  • Important reminder: Some of these questions are really personal and may feel uncomfortable. If that happens, keep moving. Do not feel like you need to answer any or all of these questions. Tell the story that is important to you.

  • Complete the interview questions:

    Where did you live when you were growing up? How did your family come to live there? Were there other family members in the area? Who?

    What, if any, religion or faith did your family have?

    What kinds of family traditions did you have? (Holidays, Birthdays, Family dinners/traditional foods & recipes)

    What older relatives do you remember, and what do you remember about them? (Nicknames, Where they lived, Any traditions associated with them?)

    What family stories have you heard about: (Your parents? Your grandparents? More distant relatives?

    Are you adopted? What is your adoption story? Do you and your family share the same ancestry? Do you and your family bring the different cultural experiences together?

    What stories have you heard about your family’s origins and your family member’s presence in America?

    What is the history of your family’s last name? In particular, what do you know about changes in spelling and underlying reasons? Do you get your last name from your mother, father, or is it a combination?

    Is there a naming tradition in your family? (Example: giving the firstborn son the name of his father or grandfather). Who are you named after? Is there a story about that?

    Has your family passed down any special keepsakes, heirlooms, books, photos or other memorabilia, including scrapbooks or newspaper clippings?

    What values do your family find most important? For example, does your family tend to strongly value education, faith, work ethic, patriotism, etc.?

  • Complete the information table:

    Information about you

    The people who care for you (near and far)

    Parent/Step-Parent/Caregiver’s Information

Step Four - Conduct Genealogical Research on Your Family

  • Complete the interview questions: ancestry chart

    How many ancestors have you “accrued” (that means gathered, or added up) since 1795?

    How many do you have if you go back another 210 years?

    How many years back do you have to go to find 100,000 genetic ancestors? (No, I’m not kidding)

Step Four - Complete Your Family Research

  • Start with the research that you started at home:

    5-Generation Family Tree


    Interview Questions

  • Using what you learned from these documents:

    Pick a grandparent or great-grandparent to begin with. Using a great/grandparent will increase the chances that you can find U.S. Census data on them. U.S. Census data doesn’t get released to the public until 72 years after the census was completed!

    Save screenshots!

    If you’re creating an eBook, don’t forget to import images and information about what you find.


Customize The Curriculum

Our research-based curriculum can be customized and implemented by cross-content teachers over a time period of your choosing. Content has also been organized to accompany Finding Your Roots - The Seedlings video episodes!

Explore the Full Curriculum

A workshop instructor and student examine a world map and discuss where the believe their ancestors originated from before conducting genealogical research.