Who Do You Think You Are? is billed as a companion book to the television series of the same name. Author and “Chief Genealogical Consultant” Megan Smolenyak Smolenyak (yes, really) is the author of this book subtitled: The Essential Guide to Tracing Your Family History.
Here’s the blueprint: nine chapters covering research preparation, Internet use, record types, case studies and family history preservation. Also, in the middle of the book, there is a separate insert of highlights from the episodes of the first season of Who Do You Think You Are?
Smolenyak’s book touches on all major categories of genealogy records, but doesn’t go into depth into any of them. This observation isn’t really a criticism, as it’s pretty difficult to cover all the genealogical bases without publishing a multi-volume set. Given the size of the book, the author has included an impressive knowledge set including helpful Internet links. Readers will have exposure to all the big record groups, but will have to seek more texts for further study.
Learning the basics of genealogy can intimidate beginners. Smolenyak’s conversational tone is a comforting introduction to a field that asks us to remember a lot of details. The author is an accomplished professional genealogist who has delved into the family lines of many recognizable historical figures. Luckily for readers, she shares some of the records and stories she’s found along the way. Are you interested in seeing the Word War I draft registration for Al Capone or hearing about President Obama’s Irish roots? Both are included in this book.
Readers do not need to view the Who Do You Think You Are? show in order to benefit from the book of the same name. However, if these episodes do inspire you or others to begin research family history, this book makes a great introduction. At 204 pages, it’s an easy and entertaining read.
by Megan Smolenyak Smolenyak