Unexpected Family History

This Unexpected Family History lesson plan also includes:

The history of the northern states' involvement in the slave trade is not widely known. This resource uses the PBS documentary, Traces of the Trade, and the nonfiction book, Children of the New England Slave Trade, to examine this aspect of slavery in the US. Both works are the result of the author's accidental discovery that an ancestor, living in the North, was a slave holder. After discussing the issues raised by these texts, individuals are encourage to search their own family trees to uncover stories in their family histories. 

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CCSS: Adaptable


  • Included in the resource are suggestions for how to approach the topic in a sensitive fashion
  • Suggestions are included for using the activities and worksheets with classes that have neither viewed the documentary nor read the book
  • Links are provided so that class members can do their own genealogy search

  • Consider additional provisions for class members who do not know or do not live with their birth parents or who are the product of non-traditional families