Homeschooling Your Family’s State History

As homeschoolers, sometimes we have to deal with things called regulations. Some of these state regulations regarding homeschooling dictate subjects that must be taught in the school year. State history is often one of those. Consider making the subject more unique by homeschooling your family history alongside your state’s history.


Those Who Want to Study State History

1924 by the WCTU Social Committee

Sometimes people actually get excited about learning the history of their state. (Who knew, right?) If you are one of those weirdo people like me, integrating your family history is just going to make the subject even more fun. When you are studying your family’s history, look for unique historical events that happened in the area. For example, Ohio was a hotbed of prohibition activity. Women across the state were calling for others to join them in the Temperance Movement. This article shares a story of women who marched through the town of Hillsboro, Ohio in support of the movement.  Highland County is where my family originated in the state, and I would have had several generations of women alive during this period right there in Hillsboro! How interesting would it be for my daughter to search for her ancestors in local papers as they depict the story of women marching up and down Main Street? It would no longer be a story of the Temperance Movement but instead the story of her third great grandmother! The research process would also give her very good insight to the community at the time as we learn about the reactions and participation throughout the county in events such as this. It also connects our state to our nation’s history as well. By searching for a unique historical event in our family’s history, we have now introduced local, state, and national history. And, it was fun!

Looking for an easy way to integrate these pieces? While you are researching, consider creating a timeline. Study family history and state history side by side, and see if any dates and locations match those you have in your family tree. Your ancestors may have participated in the events of the time. This will give you a wonderful way to understand your state history as a part of the lives of individuals rather than as a disconnected subject.


Those Who Have to Study State History

copyright Pontus Edenberg

You may be on this team if you really would rather have to learn anything but the history of your state. Fear not! It can be fun! Here are some ideas:

1. Focus on Projects:
Create a fun project that will tie in the geography of your state. For example, map the areas in which your ancestors lived, and seek out historical post cards from these cities and towns. Many can be found on sites such as Ebay for a small fee. Visit a local historical society to view their photograph collections. Do the post cards accurately depict what life was life, or do the photographs tell a different story?

2. Focus on Social History:
Social history focuses on the social groups and culture within a state, and how our ancestors reacted to it. If you aren’t looking forward to learning your state’s history, get excited about learning its social history! How did your family live? Where did they go to church? Did this religious group have annual meetings across the state, and if so, how would they travel to these meetings? What types of jobs were found in your family during different decades? Did relatives in different areas of the state have different jobs? What was life like for your ancestors during events such as the Depression or during the Civil War? Newspapers are a great source of this information (and it is fun to explore microfilm because it’s so different than the digital-age resources that our kids use online!)

3. Focus on the Field Trips:
Visit living history museums in the areas in which your family lived. Many will have guided tours often by local historians performing in character. These field trips can not only be entertaining, but they can be especially educational when paired with a project such as those listed above.


Special Considerations: No Family Connection to the State

What if you don’t have a family connection to your state of residence? Consider adopting a family! Visit your local historical society to learn about family lines in your area. Or, search a historical county history at your local library. Choose a family that sounds interesting to your children. Perhaps you have a local inventor or artist in the area. By looking at their family’s connection to the state you can still study the area through the eyes of an individual.


Building Your Family History Activity: Go on a Treasure Hunt!

We’ve talked about putting together your family tree and recording information on family group sheets.  Where do you find the information that you’ll need to move forward with your project? Go on a treasure hunt around your home or that of your parents and grandparents. You’d be surprised what information you’ll find hiding in boxes or photo albums. Don’t just look for paper records such as marriage or death certificates. Information can be found in unlikely places. For example, I was given a small New Testament Bible that belonged to my second-great-grandmother. Inside she’s written both her married name and her maiden name. What a treasure! To get ideas on where to look, explore this free checklist.


Are you on Pinterest?

You’ll find some great resources for you to use while you homeschool your family history on both the Homeschool Mosaics boards and my Corn and Cotton boards as well. We’d love to see you there!


Coming in October 2012: Sharing and recording holiday traditions is a vital part of family history. With the holidays just around the corner, we’ll talk about some ways to have fun with your family and learn more about your roots this holiday season.

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