The Tennessee State Library and Archives has been a partner with online genealogy giant Ancestry.com for several years, digitizing many of Tennessee’s historical records. Now, according to State Librarian and Archivist Chuck Sherrill, that partnership is being extended so that Tennessee will be the first state to offer access to Ancestry.com in every K-12 school classroom.
Teachers like Ben Bowers, who teaches history at Stewarts Creek High School in Smyrna, are excited. “My students learn best from hands-on experience with historical documents. For example, being able to study an immigrant passenger list, instead of just reading about immigration in their textbook, really brings history to life for them.”
Schools can register for access at www.ancestryk21.com by providing their IP address ranges. The subscription will include access to 14 billion records across the 30,000 databases on Ancestry Institution (U.S. version), such as U.S. Census records from 1790 to 1940, as well as military records available on Fold3 and Newspapers.com, another Ancestry-owned website. Ancestry is offering access to the records free of charge.
Secretary of State Tre Hargett said: “We are pleased to support history education in Tennessee through this partnership with Ancestry.com. It’s free and easy, and we expect that teachers across the state will begin working primary sources from Ancestry into their lesson plans.”
The State Library and Archives already works actively with social studies teachers to provide other Tennessee history materials in support of school curriculum.
“At the State Library and Archives, Ancestry.com is already available on every computer,” Sherrill said. “Now that these same resources will be available in the schools, students can search for records of their own ancestors and learn about history at the same time. It’s a great way to develop their critical thinking skills.”