Teaching Family History where it intersects with American History

Besides being a genealogist, one of my day jobs is as a homeschool teacher.  Twice a week I teach some classes with my kids and my sister’s kids.  This year one of our classes is American History and so I thought it would be a great time to put all of my Family History knowledge to use.  So every historical event we come to where I know of an ancestor that participated in that event we talk about that ancestor; who they were, how they are related, and what their life might have been like in that time period.  We started two weeks and ago and so far have only covered Roanoke, Jamestown, and the Mayflower Colony.  The Mayflower Colony is where our first ancestor intersection came up.  Resolved White was five when he sailed with his parents, William and Susannah White on the Mayflower.  After making it to the New World, Resolved had a brother born on board the ship, Peregrine was his name it means, “The Wanderer”.  That first winter William, the father died along with roughly half of the pilgrims.  The kids enjoyed talking about Resolved and what his life on board ship and in the New World might have been like.  We also discovered a Jamestown connection through Resolved’s wife Judith Vasall.  Her grandfather, John Vasall, was an investor in the Virginia Company.  He never actually came to Jamestown but because he was a stockholder he is a qualifying ancestor for the Jamestowne Society.  While this is interesting to me in a genealogical sense it is great educationally because it helps to show my students how interconnected the New World is in particularly and history, generally.  This interconnection is important for me to convey because I believe it is important for students to know that historical events do not happen in a vacuum.  The things going on in England and in other European countries drove events in the New World.  Soon we will be reaching the Revolutionary War in our study and we have quite a few ancestors that were involved in that, 14 on my mother’s side alone.  I plan to have each of my four students choose one to research and write a paper on: who they were, where they fought, and what they did after the war.  It is my hope that by teaching History this way it will help my students feel connected to our American Story.


About Rosanna Ward

Rosanna is a devoted mother of four children, two of which are homeschool graduates. She currently homeschools her 11 and 6 year old sons. Rosanna is a homeschool graduate and a graduate of Oral Roberts University: She grew up in Tulsa and has been homeschooling here for the past eleven years. Rosanna has loved family history for as long as she can remember and love genealogy for the stories of her ancestors.
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One Response to Teaching Family History where it intersects with American History

  1. Such an awesome idea! I wish I had my family’s history far back enough to do this. Maybe you can find out for me in your spare time (wink, wink)… Actually my Grandma on my Dad’s side was starting to build a family tree sometime back, will have to ask her how far she got!

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