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Genealogy Merit Badge Activity Planner

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Everyone belongs to a family with parents, grandparents and siblings. Yet everyone's family is different. Genealogy is the fun trail of discovery in researching your own unique family history. No matter what your family structure, every scout can easily meet the requirements for this merit badge.
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Patrol Leader Merit Badge Planning Guide for the Genealogy Merit Badge

*** Activities for the Youth Lead Patrol ***

Exploring Genealogy can be a fascinating youth adventure when done right. Here are a few tips to help the patrol leader get started.

  • Scouts may never add or subtract from the actual merit badge requirements
  • This Planner is only a suggestion of different ideas to make working this Merit Badge both fun and easy.
  • While doing the Worksheet is not a requirement for earning this badge, in many cases it can help you learn key concepts and track your progress.
Genealogy Merit Badge Booklet available at Amazon.com

A. Make Your Plan

Sample Patrol Activity Flyer
  1. Merit Badge Activity Planning Tips - 14 tips for a successful patrol activity. Read carefully before you start your plan!
  2. Share Your Plan - Meet ahead of time with your patrol, scout leaders, parents and especially with the Merit Badge Counselor. Make changes to the plan as needed.
  3. Prepare Activity Flyer - Keep your fellow scouts informed - events, activities, pre-requisites and more.
Patrol Activity: GREATAwesome MB to work as a patrol / Max Size 12 scouts
Family Activity: GREATNot only Awesome - This MB should be mandatory for groups that want to improve their Family Life
Service Activity: GREATThere are many FUN service opportunities listed below in Extra Credit
S.T.E.M. Activity: GREATLearn how to use Modern Digital Technology to solve puzzles
Field Trip: GREATFind a FHC near you / Max Size 12 scouts
Duty-to-God: GREATSee Malachi 4:5-6 in the Old Testament
MB Day: FAIRThis MB requires extensive time with family and online research
Overnighter: FAIRWould your scouts like to camp overnight by a cemetery?
Summer Camp MB: POORThis MB requires extensive time with family and online research
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Online Resources

B. Introduction Meeting

Most merit badge activities do best to have a "introduction" meeting where the patrol can discuss how to get started and to plan out their field trips.

Reg #6 & #7 are two major research projects that the scout can start by himself but may need to consult with their family members for assistance.

  • Req #6: Begin your family tree by listing yourself and include at least two additional generations. You may complete this requirement by using the chart provided in the Genealogy merit badge pamphlet or the genealogy software program of your choice.
  • Req #7: Complete a family group record form, listing yourself and your brothers and sisters as the children. On another family group record form, show one of your parents and his or her brothers and sisters as the children. This requirement may be completed using the chart provided or the genealogy software program of your choice.
  • Needed Supplies: - Assign a scout to bring extra copies of the following:
  1. Blank Family Pedigree Chart PDF
  2. Blank Family Group Record PDF

C. Homework / Prerequisites

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Assign one or more requirements that the scout can do at home, perhaps as a family activity. Genealogy is a major family activity. Allow scouts lots of time to do these activities with their family.

SPECIAL NOTE: Take home materials - Each scout will need a blank pedigree chart and family group sheet to start with their family.

  • Req #2: Do ONE of the following:
    • A) Do a time line for yourself or for a relative. Then write a short biography based on that time line.
    • B) Keep a journal for 6 weeks. You must write in it at least once a week.
  • Req #3: With your parent's help, choose a relative or a family acquaintance you can interview in person, by telephone, or by e-mail or letter. Record the information you collect so you do not forget it.
  • Req #6: Begin your family tree by listing yourself and include at least two additional generations. You may complete this requirement by using the chart provided in the Genealogy merit badge pamphlet or the genealogy software program of your choice.
  • Req #7: Complete a family group record form, listing yourself and your brothers and sisters as the children. On another family group record form, show one of your parents and his or her brothers and sisters as the children. This requirement may be completed using the chart provided or the genealogy software program of your choice.

D. Study Hall

While some scouts may be adept at self-study, others may do better in a small group setting and taking notes on worksheets. Make an agenda. You can facilitate discussion by asking them why each of the principles introduced here would be relevant. Schedule one or more patrol meetings to work this merit badge.

  • Req #1: What is Genealogy? - Explain to your counselor what the words genealogy, ancestor, and descendant mean.
  • Req #8: Do the following:
    • Explain the effect computers and the Internet are having on the world of genealogy.
    • Explain how photography (including microfilming) has influenced genealogy.
  • Req #9: Discuss what you have learned - about your family and your family members through your genealogical research.

E. Field Trip : F.H.C. Tour

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Req #5d suggests a field trip to a "genealogical education facility". The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints operates hundreds of "Family History Centers (FHC)" across the country. Additionally there are many, many other similar institutions. Most of these facilities specialize in helping newcomers to genealogy to get started on their own family history. They are an ideal place to get hands on experience with Req #4 and Req #5 of the Genealogy Merit Badge.

Also - if you are running stuck in building your family tree (Reg #6) then this place can show you some powerful tools to help you out.

  • Req #4: Research: Do the following:
    • a. Name three types of genealogical resources and explain how these resources can help you chart your family tree.
    • b. Obtain at least one genealogical document that supports an event that is or can be recorded on your pedigree chart or family group record. The document could be found at home or at a government office, religious organization, archive, or library.
    • c. Tell how you would evaluate the genealogical information you found for requirement 4b.
  • Req #5: Field Trip: Contact ONE of the following individuals or institutions. Ask what genealogical services, records, or activities this individual or institution provides, and report the results:
    • a. A genealogical or lineage society
    • b. A professional genealogist (someone who gets paid for doing genealogical research)
    • c. A surname organization, such as your family's organization
    • d. A genealogical education facility or institution.
    • e. A genealogical record repository of any type (courthouse, genealogical library, state or national archive, state library, etc.

Service Projects: During your tour, ask for a 30-minute demonstration of "indexing" or what other service opportunities they have available. (See below - extra credit)

F. Extra Credit

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While none of these are actual requirements for this merit badge - they are terrific opportunities to show Scout Spirit, Do A Good Turn Daily and to have FUN!

  1. Activity Reflection: Use this meeting for scouts to ask questions and to reflect on what they gained personally from this adventure. You can also have a discussion on what future opportunities are here.
  2. Court of Honor Exhibit: Pictures, handiwork and other memorabilia from this adventure will make for a great presentation at the next Scout Troop Court of Honor.

Cemetery Service Projects

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  • Scout Cemetery Service Projects - BoysLife.org - Special Feature at BoysLife. Check out these Eagle Scouts engaged in several different types of amazing Genealogical Service projects. Historic cemetery repairs, battlefield restoration, flag display monuments, burial records, memorial gardens and much more.

Indexing Service Project

  • FamilySearch WebIndexing - Indexing Makes Records Searchable Online. When you index you help connect families by typing up historical documents so they can be published online. One Example is taking old national census records and typing them into a giant online digital database. This will help many other families to more easily find their ancestors.

Online History Projects

  • [FamilyPedia.Wikia.Org] - The focus of this site is on capturing the details of the lives of our ancestors, both those historically significant people and the everyday people rarely listed in encyclopaedias, histories, or even "people's histories". Along the way, the site will also provide information about the historical and social context in which our ancestors found themselves. This site aspires to be truly global, with active contributors and information from several cultures and languages, and all four Hemispheres.
  • GENI - Family Tree & Family History. Create your family tree and invite relatives to share. Search 200 million profiles and discover new ancestors. Share photos, videos and more at Geni.com.
  • [WikiTree.com] - The Free Family Tree. Everyone in the world is actually part of one gigantic family tree. A community of genealogists connecting the human family on one FREE and accurate tree using traditional genealogy and DNA testing.
  • FindAGrave.com - Millions of Cemetery records - giant service project to gather photos of every tombstone in the world. Find the graves of ancestors, create virtual memorials or add photos, virtual flowers and a note to a loved one's memorial. Search or browse cemeteries and grave records for every-day and famous people from around the world.

Famous Genealogical Museums

Related Merit Badges

Sometimes it is easier by doing two or more merit badges together as a joint activity:

Duty to God

Scouts working on this activity may get special credit for earning their Religious Emblems Award.

A number of religious groups consider family history research to be an important sacred responsibility. It is called out in a biblical prophecy found at Malachi 4:5-6.

G. Scouts in the News