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Cultural Geography
Home » People » Scott Therkalsen » Cultural Geography » Family Migration Research Paper



            Following the history of our families will help to illustrate and personalize many of the important cultural geography concepts we have covered in this course. In this paper you will have the opportunity to explore the migratory history of some of your ancestors while mastering geographic concepts! Your task will be to trace the migration record for the ancestors of one of your parentsThe best and easiest way to approach this assignment is to discuss the topic with family members; you can supplement this information with public records and written records. *You may also find commercial/internet services that offer to help you in this journey, these can be useful but you should be extremely wary of commercially based products that do not specify your unique family history.

            Your research will lead you to discover significant personal revelations about the importance of geography. Follow your family’s migration history and directly relate your ancestor’s experience, and potentially the more general circumstances of others from your family’s country of origin, to concepts covered in class. Your paper should investigate concepts covered in lecture in as much detail as possible as well and include any other information that may be significant to the personal evolution of your family tree.

Your work on this project will constitute roughly 10% of your final grade. Your paper will be assessed for the information presented as well as grammar, syntax, and organization. You should begin thinking about this and researching it as soon as possible. Make sure you have time to research your topic thoroughly and proofread your paper out loud before the due date. Refer to the attached rubric to ensure you know what is expected and strive to meet the outstanding standards.


A complete paper must include:

1.  A family tree that starts with yourself and traces one family line (maternal or paternal) of your ancestry as far back as you can go (include dates when possible).

2.  A series of maps which traces and illustrates in detail your family’s migration history.

3.  A written section, explaining numbers 1 and 2 and detailing the history of your family.

- Within this section you must speak to the reasons for and results of your family’s migrations and integrate specific class concepts into the paper (see the last page for questions that may help ensure you do this correctly)

- The final draft of your paper should be 2-3 pages excluding the maps and family tree


Family tree                                                                                          5 points

Migration Maps                                                                                  5 points

MIGRATION PAPER:                                                                          

Use/explanation of course concepts                                                  15 points

Grammar, spelling, syntax, and organization                                                5 points

TOTAL                                                                                                   30 points













None or improperly done

Only you and your parents

Well done tree tracing family history into the recent past

Detailed and organized representation of your lineage as far back as possible including places of origin/migrations


None or improperly done

Poor maps, connecting lines and explanations

Good maps, clear migration paths

Great detailed use of multiple maps illustrating all past migrations along with brief explanations


Use of/explanation of geographic concepts

Very little mention of specific course concepts

Simple definitions showing no relationship to your migration history

Explanation of multiple concepts lacking integration into the paper and your specific history

Detailed explanation of multiple concepts and their relation to your migration history;importance of geography in your history

Personal Stories

Simply stating past migrations

Mention of possible push/pull factors

Explanation of push/pull factors with little personal focus or ultimate results

Explaining the reasons motivating past migrations as well as how these ultimately affected you and your family (with personal stories when possible)

Spelling, grammar, syntax

Many errors paper is unreadable

4-5 errors; not well organized

1-3 errors including spelling, grammar or syntax

No spelling or grammatical errors; no wording issues; well organized

You may directly and explicitly answer the following questions in your paper to help ensure you cover the course concepts (at least the ones significant to your personal history):


- What types of regions were involved (LDC vs MDC)? Was that influential?

- How does your history fit into the wider population growth picture?


- What were the immigration vs. emigration locations? What types of migrations were involved?

- What push/pull factors led to migration (what historically was happening at the time)?

- What “wave” of migration was your ancestry traveling within, do they fit the model?

- Would the migrators have been influenced by any laws regulating immigration? How were your different ancestors received upon arrival? Where did they go and why?

- How does internal migration of your family relate to the internal trends in the US?


- How did the spoken language change from location to location?

- What language families and/or branches were involved?



- Was religion influential in the migration of your ancestors?

- How did religion change from location to location? Did the immigrant’s religion change? Is it a universalizing or ethnic, what branch, etc.?



- What is your “ethnicity?” How would your past ancestors have answered that question?

- When (if ever) did acculturation and/or assimilation occur?


Political Geography

- Were world political events (e.g. wars, government changes, etc.) influential?

- How did your past migration correspond with the political evolution of the US?



- What type of economic indicators were involved in migrations (LE, job types, GDP, etc.)

Last Updated: 10/23/2015
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