Educator Resources: Making Connections Between the Past & Present

Ancestry® has a long-term commitment to education, and we’re proud to assist educators and parents with their focus on finding new and unique curriculum topics and to foster more personal connections to important moments in history and their own family story. After all, research shows that family history research is a powerful tool for building resilience, connection and understanding for all ages.

Family History Starter Kit

The following materials, lesson plans and resources are designed to help you teach Family History in class. When used chronologically, these foundational materials will help your students learn the basics of family history research, gain lifelong interpersonal and interview skills, learn how to use and cite primary sources to understand their family story and/or the stories of history makers before them.

1. What is Family History?

2. Getting Started: Family Interviews

3. Building Your Family Tree

4. Understanding & Citing Records

5. Presenting Your Findings

NEW: Discussion Guides for the Classroom

Ancestry has partnered with Facing History and Ourselves — a global organization that uses lessons of history to challenge teachers and their students to stand up to bigotry and hate — to develop a robust collection of resources for educators.

Getting Started

Facing History’s unique methodology is guided by research on adolescents’ civic, social, emotional and moral development. This selection of resources from Facing History and Ourselves is designed to complement the extensive materials available for educators on Ancestry, with a focus on four thematic areas:



The Power of Identity

These resources introduce the theme of identity as a lens for both understanding ourselves and engaging with the stories of others, including historical figures.


The Reconstruction Era and the Fragility of Democracy

These materials accompany Ancestry's extensive collection on the period of Reconstruction, and America's history of enslavement.


Immigration and Migration

This selection of resources complements Ancestry's records and oral histories related to United States immigration.


The Rise of the Nazis and the Holocaust

The resources in this collection help students build background knowledge about the rise of the Nazi party and deepen their understanding of the Holocaust.


These lessons, educational videos, and other classroom resources offer important historical context for students who are using archival material from Ancestry. Intended for students ready for deeper discussions of complex issues, Facing History & Ourselves' resources emphasize that history is a human story. Together, the Facing History materials and the Ancestry archival collection invite students to bring both their minds and hearts to the study of history, and to make connections between the past and present.


Each thematic area also includes a selection of professional learning opportunities for educators, from recorded webinars to classroom videos featuring master teachers. These resources help educators to build background knowledge, gain new strategies and craft more effective engaging instruction.

Note: All resources from Facing History and Ourselves are available free of charge on facinghistory.org. All recommended films and videos from Facing History and Ourselves can be streamed via facinghistory.org; some require educators to set up a free login to view.

AncestryClassroom Resources (Available to Grant Recipients)

The resources available through AncestryClassroom target a number of core subjects, with educational topics ranging from the American Revolutionary War to the 1940 U.S. Federal Census. See below for a sampling of our most popular resources for educators:

  • U.S., Federal Census Records. Taken every 10 years, the U.S. federal census determines representation in Congress and fair taxation.
  • Ellis Island Oral Histories. Listen to the stories of immigrants who passed through Ellis Island. Their experiences can help shed light on what many of our ancestors went through on their journey to the United States.
  • U.S., Interviews with Formerly Enslaved People, 1936-1938. The Federal Writers' Project was part of the New Deal, and employed writers to interview formerly enslaved people about their experiences during slavery.
  • Passenger Lists. This category covers arrivals through major and smaller U.S. ports, as well as several large international ports.
  • Citizenship & Naturalization Records. The collection of naturalization and citizenship records on Ancestry includes indexes, and some indexes are linked to images of the actual records.
  • World Memory Project. The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and Ancestry have created the World Memory Project to allow anyone, anywhere to help build the largest free online resource for information about victims and survivors of the Holocaust and Nazi persecution during World War II.
  • Find topics like war, social issues, famous people and more all sourced from newspaper articles found through history.
  • In 2014, on behalf of Ancestry.com, the H.W. Odum Institute for Research in Social Science at the University of North Carolina—Chapel Hill undertook an exploratory study which found that being involved in family history research is positively correlated with all of these behaviors. Download the full study here.
  • Check out multimedia assets for the classroom here.