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The Mackey Family History Project

Burnside: AFR/SOC 132 (Fall 2015)

The Mackey Family Assignment

Below is the actual assignment, as students received it:

Cultures, Racial Stratification & the Mackey Family Case: 

Where Did They Go from Here?”

Learning Objectives:

  • Students will be able to define, describe, and discuss, how race and ethnic identifications are part of our learned social behaviors.
  • Students will deepen their understanding about the role of culture and the influence of racial identifications on social stratification.


This historical assignment introduces our class to the Mackey Family whose 19th Century ancestors attended Berea College.    Members of the Mackey Family migrated eventually to many states and several countries.   One descendant, Mrs. Stephanie Blanchette, has given permission for Berea College students to make use of her research about her family’s genealogy. 

Her Mackey Family Manuscript provides a very interesting case about ancestors who endured the oppressions of Slavery to devise opportunities out of the challenges to the Freedmen & women in the post-Civil War era as they became members of the working-classes, able to earn wages and salaries. In the United States society, workers often found that the best way to improve their social position in life was through education and/or having a good occupation.  Modern research has demonstrated that these means are two of the best practices known which help individuals move upward in social mobility from lower to middle class within their own lifetime (intra-generational), as well as helping beyond one’s own lifetime to improve the social-economic situations for future descendants’ ( intergenerational social mobility).


Start by reading the Mackey-Blanchette Family (MBF) Manuscript (see AFR/SOC 132 Library Guide) and then select one relative, male or female, to describe based on all the biographical information in the MBF Manuscript.  Let me know which relative is selected so we can ensure a minimal amount of duplication among students’ choices.

Next, compose two questions about the culture and/or subculture(s) that your Mackey person may have encountered.  Then, read and use the various resources available to address those two questions.  Resources listed in the AFR/SOC 132 Library Guide were specifically prepared for this brief assignment by Mrs. Amanda Peach (Reference) and Mrs. Sharyn Mitchell (Archives & Special Collections).

Note:  While sources in Reference will be available whenever the Library is open all seven days a week, the Archives has limited hours during Monday to Friday and only on Wednesdays is open at night.  Do plan your research time accordingly.

Define the educational levels attained or the occupations (jobs) obtained by your Mackey relative.   Discuss the influences of that education and/or occupations on the person’s life (intra-generational) and on their family’s descendants, if known (intergenerational).

Relate your findings to four-five sociological key concepts we are studying, underline them, and remember to cite all your sources.  Word count = 750-850 words, not counting Works Cited list.  Use appropriate citation style of MLA, APA, or Chicago.  No separate cover page needed.  Use 1.5 line spacing, 12-inch font, and Times New Roman theme font.