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Who Do You Think You Are?: The Essential Guide to Tracing Your Family History Hardcover – Bargain Price, March 4, 2010
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About the Author
Megan Smolenyak is the chief family historian and spokesperson for Ancestry.com, the largest genealogical company in the world. She has consulted for and appeared on Good Morning America, the Today show, CNN, NPR, and the BBC. She has written articles for numerous ancestry and genealogy publications.
Top Customer Reviews
Smolenyak writes enthusiastically and well. She is passionate about her subject and it shows.
In some ways, the book suffers for the same reasons that the TV show suffers: it makes it look too easy. This is probably unavoidable in a beginning guide or a popular TV show since covering all the caveats might turn off the audience. That said, I wish there had been at least some emphasis on how one might go about developing skills, such as taking classes (which are often free or inexpensive), attending conferences, etc. Also lacking is any meaningful discussion of evaluation of and analysis of all of the various pieces of evidence one finds; obviously this can't be done thoroughly in a book like this, but it should at least be addressed.
The author works for [...], the giant online genealogical service; although it is noted on the jacket blurb, in the interest of full disclosure she could have been a little more forthcoming about that relationship throughout the book when one of ancestry's features or databases takes center stage. Her recommendation of [...]'s member tree feature (as her first suggestion for software to use for your data) is ludicrous; I would be very surprised if that is her own database software of choice. (Save the comments: I'm a whole-world subscriber to ancestry.com and think it's a fabulous and essential resource.)
What I especially like about this book, in addition to the writing, is its begin-at-the-beginning approach (start with yourself and work back); this may seem obvious, but it's not obvious to many beginners. There is a good section on home sources, talking to relatives, etc. The record examples and illustrations are great: generally from the famous or infamous (Chef Boyardee and Al Capone, to name a couple). Smolenyak's chapter about her search for President Obama's Irish ancestors is one of the best parts of the book because it illustrates difficult aspects to resolving a genealogical problem and, in this case, doesn't make it look easy.
I recommend this book for anyone who wants to begin researching their family and to more experienced researchers who will probably find, as I did, some new (particularly online) resources.
"Who Do Think You Are?" The Essential Guide to Tracing Your Family History, A companion To The NBC Series
By Megan Smolenyak , Chief Genealogical Consultant
When my preordered book arrived, it was probably one of the most anticipated books I had ordered in quite some time!
Having been a fan of Megan's for a long time, I already knew it was going to be good.
Megan takes us on a journey, in plain, simple language, and easy understanding, to find our ancestors.
She fully explains the "tools of the trade" for someone who knows absolutely not one thing about genealogy, other than having a desire to trace their family history. But she does it in such a way that those of us who have been doing just such research for many years, finds it a pleasant recall and entertaining! Never is it boring, stuffy or redundant.
She touches on each of the NBC series participants, without giving so much away that we are let down when we actually watch the appropriate episode. Instead, we find ourselves saying, "I'm so glad she didn't give too much away! What a great show!"
In nine, easy-to-read chapters, Megan takes us through preparing for the search; using the Internet to assist us in our search; how to utilize the census records; using vital records [birth, marriage and death]; military records; performing research in other countries; and passing on our research through sharing.
If you haven't purchased your copy of "Who Do You Think You Are?" yet, I highly encourage you to get one now. Even if you've been researching for a long time, you're going to find some great vital information that you either didn't know about, or you have forgotten about! And if you are new to the "genie" bug, then I can't think of a better book to help you get started!
I purchased this book a few weeks ago and have gone through it and find, because I have been at my research so long, it wasn't much help to me. If you are a new comer to genealogy then I would highly recommend it. All of the sources are there and the author does a good job of explaining how to use them. I was pleasantly surprised that the author did not just use her book as a shill for Ancestry.com. It appears that she is either a permanent, or sometime employee of the company, and the book cover also notes that the book is a companion for the TV series of the same name. The TV program is an offshoot of the website. I have never watched the program since it seems they only deal with celebraties and not just ordinary people like me.
Although I have not found much use for the book at the moment, I intend to hang on to it since I think it would be foolish to overlook some potential source that I haven't thought of in a while. As I stated earlier; if anyone has been at this type of research for any lenght of time, then they probably are well acquainted with all the sources described. On the other hand if someone is just starting out, then this book would be very helpful.