Educational Resources


PBS LearningMedia Genealogy & Ancestry Resources

Finding Your Roots with Henry Louis Gates Jr Collection: The basic drive to discover who we are and where we come from is at the core of the 10-part PBS series Finding Your Roots with Henry Louis Gates, Jr., the 12th series from Professor Gates, the Alphonse Fletcher University Professor at Harvard University and director of the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research. Lessons in this collection are appropriate for 6-12 grade level students. 

Here are a few of our favorite FYR lessons and activities:

Finding Your Roots: The SeedlingsInspired by the popular PBS series "Finding Your Roots with Henry Louis Gates, Jr." and shot on the campus of Penn State University, "Finding Your Roots: The Seedlings" follows 13 young people in a genetics and genealogy camp as they explore their family history and DNA ancestry with techniques never before used in an educational setting.

  • Download Full Curriculum: Resources include an introduction to genealogical research from prominent genealogists, clips from the show demonstrating how personal stories connect to larger events in history, and brief historical introductions to key people, places, and events in U.S. and World History. Fill out the form at and you will be forwarded to a Box folder where you can download the full curriculum. 
  • Download At-Home Activities: Here are free eight activities for families and future genealogists to do to begin learning about their own family history. Activities include: family tree, family interviews, family migration, observable traits, DNA extraction, and more!

Faces of America:  What made America? What makes us? These two questions are at the heart of the PBS series Faces of America with Henry Louis Gates, Jr. The lesson plans and media resources based on the series address a wide range of topics including historic waves of immigration, anti-immigrant sentiment, family genealogy, and state-of-the-art genetic research. Through this collection, students will gain a broader perspective of America’s immigrant history (both past and present) and learn what it really means to be an American.

Genealogy Roadshow: Discover techniques for helping your students connect to history through their own personal family stories with these resources from the PBS program Genealogy Roadshow. Research techniques and lessons available

Ken Burns' The Gene: An Intimate HistoryThis four-hour documentary weaves together science, history, and personal stories to create a historical biography of the human genome. It tells the story of the rapid evolution of genetic science from Gregor Mendel’s groundbreaking experiment in the 19th century to CRISPR, and the hope that newfound powers to alter DNA with pinpoint precision will transform the treatment of some of the world’s most complex and challenging diseases. The series also tackles the daunting ethical challenges that these technologies pose for humankind.

NOVA Cracking Your Genetic Code: What will it mean when most of us can afford to have the information in our DNA—all six billion chemical letters of it—read, stored and available for analysis? NOVA's Cracking Your Genetic Code reveals that we stand on the verge of such a revolution. But what are the moral dilemmas raised by this new technology? Will it help or hurt us to know the diseases that may lie in our future? What if such information falls into the hands of insurance companies, employers or prospective mates? One thing is for certain: the new era of personalized, gene-based medicine is relevant to everyone, and soon you will be choosing whether to join the ranks of the DNA generation.

Other Historical Resources for Schools

Black History in Two Minutes: It’s Black History delivered in short, lively, fact-packed stories accessible to people of all ages and education levels. It’s fast, accurate U.S. history available in free video podcast recordings describing major historical events and introducing less well-known experiences involving Black Americans. The series is narrated by Dr. Henry Louis Gates, Jr.

Rochester Voices: From the collections of Local History & Genealogy Division of the Rochester Public Library, this interactive, mobile-friendly website is designed to engage a K-12 audience, as well as the general public, in the study of local, state, national, and even global history, by allowing users to explore the stories of Rochesterians who experienced the past first-hand. Combining the features of an online special collections catalog and interpreted digital exhibits with those of an exploratory learning laboratory, this site enables diverse users to interact with unique historical materials in a variety of exciting new ways. The original letters, diaries, interviews, and other primary sources that make up the Rochester Voices digital collections are held in the Local History & Genealogy Division’s special collections and those of its partners.

  • 19th Ward Oral HistoriesThis oral history collection project was initiated in 2018 by the 19th Ward Community Association (19WCA). The 19WCA is one of the oldest neighborhood associations in the United States, having been established in the 1960s as a response to redlining and blockbusting, with a mission to “create, foster, and maintain a multi-racial community where individual and cultural differences are celebrated and where people share a sense of community.”
  • African American Oral HistoriesDr. James Wright, manager of the Rochester Public Library’s Phillis Wheatley branch, commissioned a project to record the oral histories of African American Rochesterians in the 1970s and early 1980s. The project was designed to highlight the public contributions of African Americans in the greater Rochester area and to make that information available to the community.  The interviewees represent a wide range of occupations, attitudes, and roles in the community, and they discuss a variety of topics from housing discrimination, segregation, and barriers to employment to the importance of community involvement and advances in civil rights.
  • Latino American Oral Histories: In 2011, Dr. Isabel Córdova, Associate Professor in History & Political Science at Nazareth College, initiated a student project to record and preserve the oral histories of Latinos in the Rochester area. Her colleague in the Department of Foreign Languages and Literature, Dr. Hilda Chacon, contributed similar student projects to the collection. Shared with the Rochester Public Library and available here, the Latino Voices collection comprises 66 interviews of Rochesterians with roots in a variety of Latin-American countries, including Puerto Rico, Cuba, Mexico, Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Honduras, Costa Rica, and Colombia. 
  • The Frederick Douglass VoiceThe Frederick Douglass Voice began publication on October 6, 1933. The newspaper, published by Howard Wilson Coles, was devoted to the activities, aspirations, and ideals of Black people in Rochester and the vicinity. Howard Coles used the newspaper to call attention to critical issues in the Black community. 
  • Classroom Connections: Here you will find a variety of activities and resources designed for students and their teachers. Developed with help from local educators, Rochester Voices follows the Common Core State Standards. The content of this site, which is differentiated by grade level, allows you to examine primary sources and explore humanities themes, while interpretive elements foster thoughtful analysis of these materials. New activities and resources, including lesson plans shared by actual classroom teachers, will be posted regularly, so be sure to visit us again soon!

FamilySearch: FamilySearch is dedicated to preserving important family records and making them freely accessibly online.