Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Some Help Please

I meant to post this yesterday but I had a few birthdays and that took me away from the computer and my research and I guess I could have done it last night but I was way to tired to try to write anything. However the point of this post insist about my lack of time but about the new show on NBC called "Who Do You Think You Are".

It is a great show and showcases the search for ancestors. If you haven't seen it then here is a little recap. Every week a different celebrity searches for either their father or their mother's side of the family. They always find different things than they might have expected and they always travel around the country to find the answers.

My question after watching the episode with Emmitt Smith is where are all these people that help them? With every person they almost seem to have a genealogy "dream team" that knows which book to pull or has the papers already ready for them when they show up. Like with Lisa Kudrow. She went to Belarus in Europe wanting to find information about her great grandmother. When she got there she was taken to this state archives where she found the information that she wanted but then the next day the lady that was helping her had like a full transcript of the Holocaust in that part of the country and how it related to Lisa. Or with Matthew Broderick who found out that one of his relatives served and was killed in the Civil War. He met up with a man that took him to the spot where he was buried and together they figured out that Matthews relative was the last unknown soldier from that company. It's like who are these people?

I sit at my computer and I look through the records and what do I find? Half of what I am looking for. I know that everyone will tell you that you have to go to the city or state or archives in order to find everything but really; will I find my own "dream team" when I get there?

True it stands to reason that someone working in a historical library or state archive will know more than the average Joe fresh off the street, but if I walked in and said, "I was looking for Jerry Spralls who was born in 1926 in North Dakota" would even they be able to find him in the blink of an eye? And yes I know that what looks like a few minutes on television could actually be hours but I have been looking for one relative for three weeks and still haven't even found a birth date for him. This is why I wonder.

I think the show promotes some really great tools for looking into your genealogy. Like ancestry.com (who is one of their sponsors) and state libraries, genealogy societies and people that probably make their living doing this and only have like four customers a quarter. Still I also think that they make it look a little easy. With Sarah Jessica Parker they were all the way back to the 1700 by the end of the show. I am stuck in 1870. Help Dream Team?

The bottom line is that if you get a chance to watch it then I strongly suggest that you do but simply remember that unless you can probably afford those wonderful individuals they are promoting your search will likely take longer than an hour or even two.

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