The No Story Too Small blog has been helping genealogists and family historians by creating a series of writing prompts. Use them all, and you will end up writing about 52 ancestors in 52 weeks. One of the themes they suggest for August is “School Days”.
One great way to use the “School Days” theme is to write about an ancestor who was a teacher. Describe where this person taught school. Was it in a one room school house? Did your ancestor teach in a public or private school? What subjects did she teach? What age were her students?
You could use the “School Days” theme to focus on an ancestor who homeschooled her children. Why did she make this decision? Was her choice based upon her religious beliefs? What kinds of topics did she teach?
It might be interesting to include more information about this ancestor’s religious beliefs and practices. You could also explain how this family was supporting itself. What occupation did this ancestor’s spouse have? He could have been employed in a job that no longer exists today.
A fun way to explore the “School Days” theme involves yearbooks. Many old high school year books have been digitized. Classmates has yearbooks that cover more than 30 million people, and that go back to the 1920’s. There are a total of 250,000 yearbooks from over 200,000 high schools.
Start by trying to find the yearbook photo of the ancestor you want to write about for the “School Days” theme. Can you find his yearbook photo from all four years of high school? It might be fun to compare them. Did your ancestor have a hair style that was popular that year?
Most, if not all, yearbooks include more than the standard, yearly, photos of all the students. They highlight some of the clubs, groups, and sports teams of that high school. There could be candid photos from events – including dances and the high school prom.
Take the time to flip through the rest of the yearbook. Was your ancestor on the football team? Did she help write the school newspaper? Was your ancestor a photography buff? A high school yearbook can give you a glimpse into what your ancestor was like when he or she was young.
The “School Days” theme could also be used to document a family story that involves school. Now might be a good time to write about your ancestor who won the Spelling Bee. Include a story about a school prank an ancestor participated in. Or, simply describe what an ancestor’s typical school day was like. Schools may have changed a lot since your ancestor was a child.
Image by Beth Scupham on Flickr.
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