Time Consuming Research

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?

8 thoughts on “Time Consuming Research

  1. I am able to watch your version of WDYTYA (I'm in the US), and believe it or not, despite it not showing how some things can take months or years to find….it is ten times better than the American version of the show was. Maybe that is why ours got cancelled and yours hasn't. 🙂


  2. I just found your blog on geneabloggers. You are so lucky to have Who Do You Think You Are. We had it here in the States for a while but they cancelled it 😦 I hear it may be coming back but I have no idea when. I'm going to enjoy following your blog. 🙂


  3. Thank you all for your comments. We've seen a few episodes of the US WDYTYA over here & I enjoyed them. Matthew Broderick's episode sticks in my mind, partly because he came across as such a nice guy, but mostly I think it was finding the unmarked grave of his GG-grandfather in one of the Civil war cemeteries. It's a shame it's been cancelled.


  4. I had a similar reaction to yours when I started watching WDYTYA, just about when I was beginning to do genealogical research, i.e., that it would be nice to have a bunch of materials handed over to me. And one silly thing stuck in my craw: Rob Lowe was thumbing through an old register on the segment devoted to him and I thought “Where are your gloves?” But I was sorry to see the show go. At least we still have “Finding Your Roots” with Henry Louis Gates Jr. (have you seen that one?) I hope.

    Nice to meat a fellow geneablogger. I'll look forward to following your research.


  5. I haven't seen 'Finding Your Roots' I'll have a look for it later. I know what you mean, it makes me wince seeing documents handled without gloves. Some archives & libraries don't allow gloves anymore; they say the damage which can be caused by turning thin pages with gloves on is worse than 'finger juice'. I suppose there's pros and cons for both views.

    Thanks for your comment – I'm looking forwards to reading more of your blog.


  6. I love WDYTYA but I do say to my husband that it gives a distroted view of genealogy research. They make it look so easy and everyone is so helpful. Also they fail to get across just how expensive it can be to get very little in the way of information. I once paid to view and ancestors War Records on Ancestry only to find I had paid to basically view 20 blank pages.

    Great blog. Thank you for visiting mine and your comment.

    Beneath Thy Feet


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