St. John’s University  and the

National Historical Publications & Records Commission


Family, Immigration, and History: Grade 10 Citizen Archivists in the Digital Age


Project Summary

Purposes and Goals of the Project : This project employs inquiry-based approaches to family history to teach New York City Public School high school grade 10 students historical methods and thinking, while learning research and digital literacy skills. The goal of the project is to develop curricula and resources to inspire inquiry-based learning that addresses Grade 10 Units 5 and 6 of the NYC Social Studies Scope and Sequence, and to engage teachers and students in the research and re-use of extant, freely-available digital historical records, thus providing a model for wide-spread adoption in formal and informal education settings. The project further aims at educating teachers and students in the creation of personal digital archive records, and encourages contributing to “open” repositories and to local community archive projects, thereby expanding individual understanding of the technology and concepts behind personal archiving.

     The St. John’s University’s Department of History and the Library request a three year grant from the National Historic Publications and Records Commission to provide partial funding for the project that brings together the History Department and Library partnering with the Department of Social Studies of the New York City Department of Education (NYCDOE), and drawing on the expertise of local educators, as well as advisors from Digital Public Library of America, and Queens Memory Project, with the following goals: 1) To foster engagement with historical resources at the faculty professional development level, at the secondary curriculum development level, at the student-user level, and the community, life-long-learner, level. 2) To promote digital literacy and research proficiency in both formal and informal education environments by creating education modules on researching freely-available, digital databases, newspapers and historical collections. 3) In collaboration with high school partners and community partners, to foster citizen archivists who can engage in effective personal digital archiving.

The purposes of the project are: 1) to promote access to Digital Historical Resources through the lens of family history research and contextual history research. 2) to develop curriculum modules, tutorials and resource guides that foster life-long engagement with Digital Historical Resources, and inspire citizen-archivist contribution to Digital Historical Resources.

This collaborative project exemplifies the goals of the NHPRC’s Literacy and Engagement with Historical Records grant category: 1) It employs the unique partnerships of SJU and the NYCDOE’s Department of Social Studies, to provide educational opportunities for students and the general public to engage with online historical records. 2) It fosters collaboration between the Department of Social Studies, St. John’s University and community partner, Queens Memory Project, in efforts to increase individual understanding of the technologies, and standards involved in effective personal digital archiving. 3) It models a family history research curriculum that other institutions can adopt with no cost, and promotes access to and use of national historic records to a much wider audience by offering open guides and tutorials.