As I watched the trailers for the show (both on television and here on ABC's website), something caught my eye: the image of a lone tree (sometimes barren and sometimes with foliage) on a green grassy hill. Hmmmm . . . where have I seen that image before?
I realize that Find My Family deals with finding living people (which as a reader of this blog, you know I love honing my research skills looking for the living), and some would say the genealogy angle is slight compared to other shows. There's no doubt that heartwarming (some would say heart-wrenching) stories sell and work better with living people. While I stopped watching Extreme Home Makeover years ago (I thought it became exploitive and produced a mindset of people just waiting for a windfall to come their way), I will be watching Find My Family. I'm interested to see just what methodology and research techniques are used to locate people and, more importantly, how and if they deal with the privacy issues involved in such a search.
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With the American version of Who Do You Think You Are? set to premiere in January 2010, I'm wondering if the television world is finally catching up to the way in which genealogy and family history have continued to grow as a hobby especially on the Internet. Or perhaps producers of these shows have finally figured out what many of us who pursue our roots already know: it is the stories behind the research that help illuminate our ancestors and allow us to make connections with them.
Are we looking at another explosion of interest in genealogy akin to what occurred in 1977 when the mini-series Roots premiered? Back then there was no Internet to turn to, but it was the libraries and archives which were inundated with folks making their first attempts at genealogy research.
Fast-forward 32 years and viewers are likely to go right to their computers once the show is over. My hope is that the online genealogy community of bloggers, vendors and others can stress the importance of sound genealogical research practices while at the same time making the experience of finding one's roots enjoyable and educational.
© 2009, copyright Thomas MacEntee