Project introduction

This project will focus on personal investigations of family histories. Students will construct detailed histories of their families using interviews, online resources, and archival documents such as census records, draft registration cards, birth and death records, city directories, newspaper articles, letters, diaries, tax records, and cemetery listings to better understand who their family members were and how they led their lives.

This search for relatives will be aided by the use of autosomal DNA testing which will provide each student with an ethnic profile, maternal haplogroup, and paternal haplogroup (only available to students with Y-chromosomes). These results will be shared across thousands of other users to search for relatives. Each student will gain a “beginner’s understanding” of genetics.

Students will compare their families to others in the country through readings on the history of the American family.

The course will focus on personal investigation, but the results will be shared with the group through daily discussions and online journal entries.

Students who enroll in the course must agree to provide a saliva sample for the genetic test. Students must also be open to the “unknowns” that arise when investigating family backgrounds.

Even if you don’t know anything about your family history, if you are worried that you can’t find anything out before the Civil War because your ancestors were enslaved, if your family lives far away from Spartanburg, or if you are adopted (like my sisters) and don’t know even know what family history “means for you” in a class dealing with genetics… you are welcome in this interim project.