Skip to Main Content

ENG 3315: Advanced Writing (Assignment)

Resource guide for completing the Family History & Immigration/Migration Assignment

From Your Librarian

This guide was created to help you through the research process for your ENG 3115 course.  Please view all the tabs as they will help you find information through databases and the online library catalog.  Please read the description of the assignment before moving on to the other tabs.

Your Assignment

Family History & Immigration/Migration Assignment


Part I


Due: Wednesday of Week 11.  Bring 3 copies to class.

Part II

Rough Draft

Due: Wednesday of Week 12. Bring in 3 copies of your rough draft.

Minimum word count: 2000-2400

Part III

Final Draft 

Due: Wednesday of Week 14

Hand in hard copy with revisions underlined together with the rough draft containing my comments.  Upload to Canvas before class.

Minimum word count: 2000-24000

Part IV

PowerPoint Presentation based on your final paper

Due: Week 15


You must complete and submit all 4 parts ON TIME to pass this assignment.


The study of history has both personal and societal value. On a personal scale, it helps us to place ourselves within a wider framework – to see how we, and our families, play roles within a regional, national and global context. History is not just about “them;” it is also about us. The purpose of this assignment is two-fold: to come to a better understanding of what has happened to our own families over time and to see how we fit within the framework of the United States.  

Your heritage helps to make you what you are today; our collective heritage creates our nation. In researching this assignment you are to find out as much as possible about your family, going back as many generations as you have information on. In addition, you will research the place where your family immigrated from and see what were conditions were like when they left, comparing them with what they came to in America.  

Your research is precisely the kind of work done by professional historians. You will interview people (oral history), you will consult written material and other documents, like photographs (primary sources and, possibly, secondary sources) and you will present your findings in the form of a personal essay and an oral presentation.  

 Family History. 

a. Family Tree.  Create a family tree showing as much information as you can find about your parents, grandparents and any further generations that you can locate information on.  Include names, birth-dates and places of birth, dates of death, names of spouses, dates of marriage, and even occupations if you have the information. (Indicate n/a for any category you cannot find). 

b. Family Background  

In a series of paragraphs, describe your family’s background. You may not have answers to all of these questions, but try to cover as much as possible and do so as thoroughly as you can, providing examples whenever possible to illustrate what you have to say. 

  • * Have you always been of the same social class? What is it (working class, middle class – business owners – or aristocracy)? 
  • * Have your fortunes improved or worsened? 
  • * If you are able to track back to when your family immigrated to America, explain why and when they did so. What were the “push factors” – the reasons why they left their original home – and what were the “pull factors” – the reasons why they chose to come to America? These will involve research into conditions in
  • the country of origin at the time of emigration and conditions in America at the time of arrival. Pay particular attention to important local, national or world affairs happening at the time. Did these affect the decision to move? 
  • * Where has your family lived in America? Where did they first come to? 
  • * Why and when did they come to New Jersey? 
  • * How have attitudes toward the old country and America changed from generation to generation? 
  • * If you still have contact with relatives in the “old country” note how your family’s lives here are similar or different to family members there. 
  • * Are you glad that your family made this move? Why or why not? 

Map component 

On a world map that you create or find, show the following: 

  • Your country of origin. 
  • The capital city of that country. 
  • The city or area where your family came from. 
  • The probable route that your family took in coming to America (if possible, specify the type of transportation used in brackets next to the route. 
  • Your family’s first place of residence in America.

Although this assignment is set up as an “immigration” assignment, it can also be a “migration” assignment if your family originally came from a different part of the United States.  You can still do all the parts.  

This assignment will require that you talk to your elders, particularly the oldest members of your family or your extended family.  If family members are not around, you will have to compensate by doing comparable research on life and customs in their place of origin.  Do not procrastinate. It is not possible to gather information in a few days time. You will need considerable time to talk to as many sources as possible.