Friday, July 30, 2010

Companion Books: Who Do You Think You Are?

Before I headed out to Salt Lake for my grandson's baptism, Ol' Myrt here started this blog entry. Just thought I'd finish it up now for ya. (Is the use of the term "ya" too Palinish?)

A BIG thank-you to Audrey Collins from the National Archives (UK) who arrived in March as a house guest. It was a surprising delight for her to bring Ol' Myrt and Mr. DearMYRTLE a copy of the companion book to the BBC1 series. Who Do You Think You Are? Encyclopedia of Genealogy by Nick Barratt is available through Expect this book to lead you through research routines for ancestors whose records are in the UK. (Don't try the US website for as they'll try to charge you $500 US for this same book.)

Of particular interest is the chapter on "Social History: Working Further Back in Time." Here I discovered a simplistic summary of Common Law court records such as King's Bench, exchequer and chancery pleas. Just enough information to get me going, but not too overwhelming, since I am only a beginning researcher when it comes to records in England.

Helpful to beginning and intermediate researchers is the section on troubleshooting. This book has guides for:
  • Army Service Records - WWI
  • Army Service Medals - WWI
  • Early Army Service Records
  • Naval Service Records
  • Merchant Seamen's Records
  • Royal Marine Service Records
  • RAF Service Records (There are different tactics if your ancestor was male or female.)
  • Immigration
  • Emigration  (voluntary or involuntary)
Other chapters like "Origins and Meanings of Popular Surnames" are designed to get novice family historians mildly interested in the subject, I'd guess. Oh well.

All in all, this book is a good beginner's guide, with several case studies describing the research process.

Who Do You Think You Are?: The Essential Guide to Tracing Your Family HistoryThe US version, Who Do You Think You Are? Essential Guide to Tracing Your Family History is the companion to the NBC WDYTYA series that finally debuted this past winter. Author and friend Megan Smokenyak2 (that's Smolenyak Smoplenyak) was the chief genealogical consultant for the series.

This book is smaller and more closely follows the story line of the research process experienced by each of this last season's stars: Mathew Broderick, Lisa Kudrow, Spike Lee, Sarah Jessica Parker, Susan Sarandon, Brooke Shields, and Emmit Smith.

But the book also assists readers in preparing for their own ancestral journey including collecting what you and your family members already know, researching online, looking at census records, obtaining vital records, and figuring out what to do when crossing the pond.  Megan is absolutely correct when she writes:

"So it would be a pity to keep all your discoveries to yourself - or worse yet, take them to your grave with you (not to be morbid here, but one day you'll be an ancestor.) At least half the reason for tracing your roots is the joy of sharing." Ibid. p. 187.
Either book would be a fitting present to those fledgling family historians who were inspired by watching the TV series, but just don't know where to begin. I would say, you could also give them the link to Ol' Myrt's blog, but that would be a little self-serving, wouldn't it?

Happy family tree climbing!
Myrt     :)
Your friend in genealogy.

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