about the events that are most important for understanding the significance of your ancestor’s story. Keep in mind the following guidelines as well: Which historical events impacted the way class boundaries, gender roles, or racial or ethnic categories affected your family members? Often, a historical event can impact multiple identities—race, gender, class—so think about the intersections of these impacts. Also keep in mind that the events you use do not need to have happened during this person’s lifetime. For example, the legacy of Civil War continued to impact the lives of both white and black Americans long after those who lived through it had passed. Various laws and Supreme Court cases can impact the lives of many generations of Americans. You should organize your ancestor’s story by discussing the following three areas:
Race and/or Ethnicity Analysis: (approx.2 pgs) Describe this person’s ethnicity. What term would they use to identify their cultural group (by race? nationality? ethnicity?) Keep in mind that even if you don’t know exactly how your ancestors would self-describe their ethnicity, you can speculate based on historical terms for ethnic groups of that time period. How would they have been classified in the U.S. Census at the time? Did they experience discrimination as minorities, or were they part of a majority group? How did their ethnicity affect their opportunities in the US, such as employment or education? How did this status affect their sense of themselves? Did they feel solidarity with others in the same group, or live in a “parallel society”? Was assimilation important, or maintaining the prior cultural identity? In what other ways was race or ethnicity an important factor in their lives? Did they conform to, or defy cultural expectations of their ethnic group? Be sure to identify at least one specific historical event that impacted their experience based on race/ethnicity. For example, the Naturalization Act of 1790, by limiting citizenship to “free white persons”, offered opportunities to communities who were classified as “white” and severe limitations to those who were not. Social Class Analysis : (approx.2 pgs) Identify this person’s social class. What kind of occupation did this person have; what was their educational background? How did these factors present opportunities, limitations, and cultural expectations? What “class attitudes” did they have, such as attitudes toward education, toward work and kinds of work, toward manners and dress, or toward success and status? Was social advancement expected? How else did economic status affect their lives? Did their social class change over time, and what were the consequences of this change? Tie your analysis to at least one historical event. For example, World War II could impact a person’s class status in various ways: if a family member died in the war, the family could face severe economic hardship and downward class mobility;
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- Spring '08