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ENG 1020 - College Composition II - Fales: Assignment

Research Paper Guidelines

Trace your family tree and write a research paper on your family story.

Research Requirements:

  • Include a minimum of 15 sources in your Working Bibliography
  • Use 8-10 sources in your research paper
  • Use MLA Citation Style

Paper Requirements:

  • Must be 8-10 pages long (not including attachments)
  • Must attach a Works Cited page

Guidelines:

  • Title page
  • Outline/Tree Diagram (Remember, thesis appears at top)
  • One inch margins all around
  • 12 pitch print size
  • Double space
  • Last name and page numbers (be sure to paginate properly -- 8-10 pp.)
  • Attachments (optional -- many of you will find copies of documents, for example, birth/death certificates, war pensions, census, land grants, etc., that you may wish to include with the paper and you will do this as an attachment -- attachments do not count as page numbers)

See your Blackboard site for the complete assignment.

Getting Started

I. Stay Organized! 

  • Use Family Group Sheets to track family members. 
  • Keep a Research Log to note what sources you've already searched; who you've already traced; and where you found information.  You don't want to repeat steps. 
  • Maintain a list of unanswered questions on each ancestor so you know what information is still unknown about an individual.

II. Start with what you already know.

Look for documents that show family names, dates (birth, marriage, and death), places, or relationships:

  • Certificates of birth, marriage, or death
  • Family Bibles
  • Journals and diaries
  • Letters and cards
  • Photographs
  • Obituaries and funeral programs
  • Announcements of births & weddings
  • Wills
  • Deeds
  • Military records
  • Passports & citizenship documents
  • School records

Visit or write your relatives.  Ask them to tell you stories and experiences that are a part of your family history.  Even if they do not know the specific facts, relatives can sometimes give clues.

III. Work from Known to Unknown

  • Start by connecting known family members in current generations to past generations, i.e. connect your parents to your grandparents before jumping to your great-grandparents. 
  • Compile a list of missing or unverified facts. Start with the event that happened most recently.  For example, find death information first before looking for marriage/birth records. 

IV. Search for Records

In addition to a name, know approximately when and where an ancestor lived.  These facts will help you determine your starting point. 

If you know Great Grandma Helen died in Ohio in 1953, you may or may not find a Social Security Death Index record for her (not everyone had been issued a card back then or drew SS benefits).  You could search the Ohio Death Index and request a copy of the death certificate.  And you could try searching the 1940 U.S. Census, the last publicly available census.

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