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Resource Watch: Free E-Book on Family-History Classroom Projects

A free e-book released last week by Ancestry.com and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Education offers ideas and inspiration for teachers looking to bring family history into their classrooms.

Family History in the Classroom, which is available as a PDF or iBook, was created by a team of middle and high school teachers, library media specialists, and specialists from UNC's LEARN NC program. It follows a group of North Carolina teachers as they develop and implement family-history units in their classes using resources on Ancestry.com, which hosts more than 15 billion records with the goal of helping users discover their family histories.

While many of Ancestry.com's resources are only available to paying subscribers, the site encourages teachers to fill out a brief questionnaire and apply for an AncestryK12 grant, which allows free access to this site's U.S. content as well as to the records on Fold3 (a military history site) and Newspapers.com. A limited number of documents on these sites are available without a subscription.

Ancestry.com clearly has an interest in attracting new users, but teachers themselves have made the case for introducing students to genealogy. Last month on the blog Education Futures, Matthew Lynch, dean and professor at Virginia Union University's School of Education, Psychology, and Interdisciplinary Studies, argued that family history projects can open the door to a greater understanding of different cultures in a diverse classroom. Lynch said that such assignments can help teachers "emphasize the differences between students in a positive light."

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