Friday, 30 March 2012

Finding Your Roots - Rounding Out the Process

Genealogy buffs in North America will be planning their evening around t.v. time, tuning in to the latest episode of Who Do You Think You Are. So much has been written already about this program, both good and bad. While I have been frustrated this season by the "sameness" of all of the stories, I really enjoy watching the story unfold. I like that the show makes people aware that we can't find everything online. We actually have to go to the archives or libraries to get the information about our ancestors. We may need the help of the archivists to understand the documents. And we may need a history lesson to understand the reasons why our ancestors did the things they did. Personally, I'd like to see the clippings that never made it any further than the editor's floor. Not for the "bloopers" so much as to see how many documents were actually consulted before the right person was found.

Last week, a new genealogy t.v. series started, "Finding Your Roots" This one runs on PBS and the format is quite different. Professor Gates does the work and the traveling and then shares the story with the celebrity. I love this for a number of reasons, but perhaps the most important is that by seeing where Professor Gates goes and who he talks to, we get a better sense of the work that is actually involved in putting a family history together. It rounds out the genealogical process. We see the parts of the process that get left on the cutting room floor in WDYTYA?

I also like that Professor Gates provides the celebrity with their story in a format that can be "shared and heired" A tangible legacy for current and future generations so that the story that accompanies the documents, newspaper clippings and photographs doesn't get lost over time.

Weekends are a great time for genealogy enthusiasts. There are meetings and conferences to attend, time to dedicate to the hunt and now, reality tv shows that we can actually get absorbed and learn as we watch.

Happy Weekend, Everyone!

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