We’re now three episodes into the ninth series of ‘Who Do You Think You Are’ on BBC1. They’ve all been good so far; I particularly liked Gregg Wallace’s episode and how the research uncovered a much deeper story than the one passed down through his family.
But the programme does tend to give a distorted view of how difficult and slow genealogical research can be. The celebs turn up at various archives to meet a researcher who has all the answers ready for them, but they don’t mention the hours of previous research that has been done to arrive at that point.
I’ve recently spent a full two and a half days in Nottingham Archives looking through their Methodist birth & marriage records for the family members I’ve failed to find in the C of E records. The later Non-Conformist records haven’t been micro-filmed yet, so it feels like a treat to be looking through the original registers.
Anyway, after all those hours of searching I have still only managed to find more distant relatives in them, Gervase Oldham’s daughters’ marriages are the closest ones. I also spotted some Bucknalls, who I’ve been looking for on behalf of my Great-Aunt. I still have several more Methodist records to check and then there’s the Baptist ones to start!
I don’t see this as a waste of time, the registers are fascinating in themselves, and if you can’t find your family members in the obvious ones, you have no choice but to be thorough and work your way through the lot! But WDYTYA gives the impression that the answers are immediately available, which they very often aren’t. I wonder how many people are put off researching their trees further when they realise it won’t all be handed to them on a plate?