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, studies
show that family history research is a powerful tool for building resilience, connection and understanding for all ages.
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
Explore hundreds of bite-sized biographies of historical figures from many parts of the world. Some of the people are famous, and some are noteworthy because they illustrate life in the places and times in which they lived. All of the stories rely on primary source documents from Ancestry. Click here to start exploring.
Also don't miss the structured Family History Research Activities for Historical Figures listed at the bottom of this page.
These resources are ideal to use with students who may have trouble finding records about their own families.
Ancestry has partnered with Facing History & Ourselves UK — an organisation 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.
Facing History’s unique methodology
is guided by research on adolescents’ civic, social, emotional and moral development. This selection of resources from Facing History & Ourselves UK is designed to complement the extensive materials available for educators on Ancestry, with a focus on four thematic areas:
The Power of Identity
Students consider the question "Who am I?" and identify social and cultural factors that shape identity by reading a short story and creating personal identity charts.
Designed to support History, Citizenship, PSHE, RS and English, this resource offers a variety of classroom strategies to develop critical thinking and communication skills, model democracy in the classroom, and empower students to become active, responsible citizens.
The Fragility of Democracy
Use this lesson to deepen students’ understanding of the concept of democracy, provide a framework for assessing a democracy’s health, and explore the strengths and weaknesses of the UK’s parliamentary democracy.
Designed for students in the United Kingdom, these lessons foster the critical thinking, mutual respect, and toleration necessary to bring about a more humane society.
Students examine the steps the Nazis took to replace democracy with dictatorship and draw conclusions about the values and institutions that make democracy possible.
Immigration and Migration
Students analyse the Battle of Cable Street Mural and reflect on the role of public art to commemorate, educate, and build community.
Students use the historical case study of the Bristol Bus Boycott to examine strategies for bringing about change in our communities.
Use this lesson to help students process how they are feeling about the devastating war in Ukraine, develop media literacy in what news they consume and how, and explore the mounting refugee crisis.
Students learn a new concept, universe of obligation, and use it to analyse the ways that their society designates who is deserving of respect and protection.
The Rise of the Nazis and the Holocaust
Lead your students through a detailed and challenging study of the Holocaust that asks what this history can teach us about the power and impact of choices.
This one-hour webinar provided ideas, inspiration, and resources for how to mark Holocaust Memorial Day.
This collection features powerful accounts of the Holocaust, told by survivors, rescuers, and witnesses, selected from USC Shoah Foundation’s Visual History Archive.
These lessons 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 emphasise 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. These resources help educators to build background knowledge, gain new strategies and craft more effective engaging instruction. Many more teaching resources from Facing History & Ourselves are available here.
Note: All resources from Facing History & Ourselves are available free of charge on facinghistory.org.uk. Some require educators to set up a free account to view.
- UK Census Collection. 1841–1911 census records.
- Ireland Census & Related Collection, 1855-1922
- 1939 England & Wales Register. Initially taken due to the onset of war with the purpose of producing National Identity Cards, the register later came to be multi-functional, first as an aid in the use of ration books and later helping officials record the movement of the civilian population over the following decades and from 1948, as the basis for the National Health Service Register. The 1939 Register is an extremely important genealogical resource, not only for the rich detail and information recorded for each person and household, but also in helping to bridge a thirty-year gap in census data. The census taken in 1931 was destroyed during the Second World War and no census was carried out in 1941 due to the ongoing conflict.
- England & Wales, Birth, Marriage, Death Indexes, 1837-2005.
- Ireland, Birth, Marriage, Death Indexes, 1619-2002.
- Scotland, Birth, Marriage, Death Indexes, 1619-2002.
- UK, City & County Directories, 1600s-1900s. Directories are great sources for locating people in a particular place and time. They are especially useful in between census years and in earlier years when censuses are non-existent. However, directories are also an excellent source for gathering details to help you place your ancestors in historical context. Because most directories provided descriptions and other information about the town and surrounding localities, directories can help you paint a picture of what life in that time and place might have actually been like.
- UK, British Army WWI Service Records, 1914-1920. Approximately 5 million men served in the British Army in World War One. This database contains the surviving service records of non-commissioned officers and other ranks who served in WWI and did not re-enlist in the Army prior to World War II.
- UK & Ireland, Newspapers.com™ Obituary Index, 1800s-current. A detailed obituary can be an excellent starting point for family research. Family names and relationships can be added to a family tree. Military service information can lead to enlistment and pension records. Birth and marriage dates can open a path to newspaper announcements and official birth and marriage certificates. A church funeral location may lead to additional church records.
- UK & Ireland, Newspapers.com™ Marriage Index, 1800s-current. Newspaper marriage announcements can provide family information that goes beyond the scope of official documents. They often include the bride's maiden name, which can lead to a new family tree branch. They can include wedding attendant names that might be family members. The home address of a married couple can provide a geographic area to explore and can open up connections to land and census records. The church where the wedding occurred and the clergyman who participated in the ceremony can lead to other church records.
- UK & Ireland Immigration Records. Passenger lists, directories, books, etc.
- Passenger Lists This category covers arrivals through major and smaller U.S. ports, as well as several large international ports.
- 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.
- World Memory Project. The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and Ancestry have created the World Memory Project, the largest free online resource for information about victims and survivors of the Holocaust and Nazi persecution during World War II.