There are lots of genealogical projects which might appeal to younger researchers. This page collects several ideas, and includes links to pages offsite which can help, especially in gathering materials. These projects can be very important: the chart on the right, a family tree created for a Camp Fire Girls project, is the only family record on this tree for a number of her ancestors!
Many of these projects are great because their results can be published or donated to organizations: this kind of work is not just a school exercise, but actually helps other people learn as well!
This chart completed for a Camp Fire Girls
citizenship project provides a key source
for the names Lee and McGarry.
- Trace a pedigree or fan chart. You can make your own chart if you like, but many companies sell charts which you can fill in. You can include names, dates and places of birth, marriage and death, and more if you like. Here are just a few options:
- One great project for a sunny day is to create a tombstone rubbing: take a large piece of paper, put it over the stone, and then rub over it with a crayon (or any colored wax) or piece of chalk. The inscription will stand out. Here's one discussion of it.
- Older students might need to do a research paper of some kind for school. There are lots of possible topics here--and I will include what you have done on the site!
- You might write a family history. It can help to focus on a person or an event or something else specific. Your first and best resource is your own family! Talk to them.
- After this, Family Tree Magazine has a great page of forms to use for documenting the facts of family history. The best places to start are Rootsweb, which connects to the USGenWeb project; FamilySearch.org; and Cyndi's List are probably the best places to start.
- You might work on a local history project which connects to people on the tree, such as the Irish potato famine, immigration through Ellis Island, or the western New York railroads. The Buffalonian has lots of connections to local Buffalo history--you can even submit your article to them for publication after you have written it!
- For student community service projects, one idea is to preserve a local graveyard, either by recording or cleaning graves. Here is a page about the history of Buffalo cemeteries. If you record gravestones, donate your work to the Tombstone Transcription Project for New York State; many Scout troops work on this. You could also record some graves and submit them to findagrave, one of the largest indices of grave records on the web.
- One way in particular to research family history is by creating an oral history: you can record a personal history of a relative; you can also do this with a video camera to create a video history.
- Family history does not just look back at parents' generations; it also looks towards generations to come. You can record your own or your family's history at any age. You can put together a time capsule of important items, to be opened in a certain number of years (here's one description of the project). Putting together scrapbooks is a wonderful way to archive a personal history--and really very helpful for your family: much of the information on this site comes from family scrapbooks.
- Want more ideas? Family Tree Magazine has a great page of further ideas, and a page of websites with links to even more. There are books with ideas for learning about genealogy. Here is one called Creating Junior Genealogists.