13 September 2013

Some Thoughts about Who Do You Think You Are?

I like these shows. I really do. And here's why. They are entertaining yet informative, and creates some (maybe a lot of) interest in our field.

Like the Kelly Clarkson episode. A lot of criticism was tossed about on how could she NOT know about Andersonville. Well, I vaguely remember a little bit of it from my history books, but not really anything substantive. 

And it didn't hit home until I found an ancestor who died there. See my blog post on that below.

And until Kelly Clarkson actually went there and the history of the place was explained in vivid detail... I was still somewhat in the dark. I guess I'm more of a visual learner than I thought! NOW, I know. And it makes my own history come alive.  

Chris O'Donnell's episode was amazing. How we ALL wish we had that kind of paper trail and historical memorabilia to enhance our stories. And to know that his ancestor was there in 1812 for that particular battle. Wow. 

Again, visual learning at work. I can see a couple of more field trips in my plans.

Trisha Yearwood's episode got me thinking about where my ancestors may have come from as well as explained a little bit of the transportation/deportation of convicts. I *think* I have one of those. I haven't been able to confirm more than finding a name on a list on a ship. But, now I may have a better way to look for that information.

These are only some of my observations. I did notice more white glove usage this season, plus the fact that some repositories don't seem to be as concerned about some of that as others. Every place has their own rules and regulations.  

And another thing. The show may make it look easy, but in every instance, a plan was in place. Some called ahead, some wrote, lots of research was done in preparation prior to filming. 

IF these episodes had been done the way we all do it.... NO ONE would watch them!  

It's a lot of prep work to find that diamond in the rough! And it can be tedious, monotonous, and time-consuming to go through rolls and rolls of film, books, indexes and databases to check off each and every personal event as one goes through their search.  

One last observation that many may have missed.  

Not all of the research was done ONLINE. These people went to the various locations and walked where their ancestors walked. While not many of us can afford that as spread out as we all seem to be... the value of going to where your ancestor lived cannot be overlooked.

Your own family history brought to life.  

That what makes these shows invaluable to me.