Your research paper should be interesting, fun, and exciting. You will be learning about your family lineage, history, stories, and consequently, yourself. Since you are each uniquely individual, no two research papers will look alike.
As with any research paper, there are many different ways to approach this project; I will be explaining many of the tools of the trade (both writing and genealogical) and sources available to you, but just as each of your ancestors se their feet on their own unique path to and through this country, so will each of your journeys seek out their own unique and individual trails. Some of you may wish to follow your matrilineal line only, some of you your patrilineal line, and some of you may wish to follow both. Some of you may choose to follow a mother’s or grandmother’s line through the males only or vice versa. The choices are numerous and they are yours to make.
Being adopted does not make a difference in a research paper like this except you have more options; you may choose to research your adopted family, your birth family, or a little of both.
It is possible that there might be someone in class who, for whatever reasons, knows nothing about his or her family at all. This can be a wonderful opportunity to find out, but if this is a problem you need to see me.
Unless you are Native American your family does not have its origins in America; how did they get here? What ship/s did they sail in on and at what port did they dock? What journeys did they take: the trail of tears (or some form of forced removal), the westward movement, the northward movement? You will want to research the area or areas your family lived in: city or country, north or south, east or west. What was it like and how did it affect the way they lived? what were their occupations: farmer or manufacturer or tradesmen, etc.? What were the social conditions like? What were the economic conditions like? How did your family survive? Did they live through wars: the revolution, the civil war, WWI or II, etc.? Did they live thorough the Great Depression? Did you have any heroes or heroines in your family (this doesn’t necessarily mean they had to have been written about in the history books)? These are just some suggestions for you to think about; the possibilities are endless.
Of course, depending on what you already know, what you find, and where you place your interests, each of your papers will take on a different focus, structure, organization, and development. You will need to apply your critical thinking skills; at times you will need to speculate and draw connections and parallels between different pieces of information.
Just remember that whatever you choose to do the paper must be well developed. However you decide to do all this, the paper must flow well; there must be smooth transitions and connections between your ideas. and in the end I will want you to conclude with a well thought out piece on the effect all of this has on you. How do you fit into the family story. And after that you will have your own family story to add to the mix and to pass on to your descendents.
GUIDELINES FOR THE RESEARCH PAPER
Outline/Tree Diagram (Remember, thesis appears at top)
One inch margins all around
12 pitch print size
Last name and page numbers (be sure to paginate properly — 8-10 pp.)
Works cited page (8-10 sources, a variety)
Attachments (optional — many of you will find copies of documents, for example, birth/death certificates, war pensions, census, land grants, etc., that you may wish to include with the paper and you will do this as an attachment — attachments do not count as page numbers)
Choose source material that is reputable, specific to your topic, and the best that you can find; support your claims with your source material using quotes and paraphrases all cited correctly. Integrate borrowed material smoothly — don’t forget any citations.