For all the seasons that Who Do You Think You Are have been on there’s almost always a love/hate discussion the next day in the Facebook genealogy community. At first, everyone was happy the show was on and promoting the interest in family history. Then, little by little the critques began. The complaints ranged from there being too much detail that made the stories drag on, to not enough content that showed how many hours it took to find the juicy details.
Of course, what some people failed to take into account was that the show is just an hour long commercial for Ancestry.com. There is certainly nothing wrong with that, but it should be understood by those of us who do all forms of research that by criticizing and nit picking the show each week we are doing more harm than good when it comes to promoting the fun of finding family history documentation. We’re darn lucky someone like Lisa Kudrow chose to promote genealogy by producing the programs.
The program has changed from a national station host to The Learning Channel that may or may not be as accessible. As time went by the format for the stories of each celebrity evolved to keep it interesting while staying within a set budget. I’m assuming all this, but I suspect it’s all true. As has been said recently, many aspects of the episodes can be teaching opportunities for those of us who write about genealogical research. Not just teaching opportunities, but talking points as well.
Now, About Your Own Research
If each celebrity’s life leaves us with questions, that’s a good thing. We might find ourselves with new ideas for our own research. Avenues we haven’t thought of persuing like voter lists, criminal records, church histories, newspaper accounts, or even special censuses for states. Have you considered searching for a topic in Google books? Not just in Google itself, but in their books.
Even more ‘daring’…search for your ancestor by name in a general Google search of images. I’m not advocating just doing research online of course. Find out if your local library has a genealogy section. Maybe your local historical society has a few suggestions for you too. One more suggestion, ask your friends what kind of books they might have that you could use for research. Personally, I have a few genealogy books of my own and can do lookups in them if you ask nicely.