04 March 2010

Genealogy & Television

With the onset of all the new television "reality" shows featuring genealogy - I have to wonder if this is a really good thing?

As you can tell by the way I phrased that sentance I don't watch alot of television. I do watch PBS usually after 8pm, usually while snuggled up in my warm comfy bed! Not alot of genealogy on PBS - I guess my favorite would have to be History Detectives. But even with that I do have questions??

They make it look so easy. In the span of an hour they can solve this whole mystery of what this is & what part it played in history. While fascinating - I always remind myself its not always as easy as they make it appear.

I wonder if all the people watching the new television series on tracing your roots understand that its not all going to happen in an hour or two hours? Are they going to understand that not everything found on Ancestry is gospel truth or the result of good genealogical research? Will they understand that you MUST go and collect the vital records on this and prove it for yourself? Will this new television show take the time to advise people to use vital records for documentation? I doubt it.

I'm sure there are a few people who will be flipping channels & come across this new show & decide to give it a try & find they are actually doing well with it. But what about the many who will see the show & not understand the reality of not being able to find your whole tree in an hour or who really will believe that "click & claim*" genealogy is the way to go?

When people ask what I do & I tell them that I research family history - I often hear.... "oh yeah my (insert name/relationship of relative here) found our whole tree on that Ancestry site. So we are all done. Got it all the way back to King (insert King name here), including the three brothers who came from (insert country name here) and we even found our Indian princess (insert Pocohantas here)." My only comment anymore is "OH REALLY?" I've truly given up on trying to convince people that everything found online or on Ancestry is NOT totally true. There are good researchers with sites on Ancestry & there is good info there. Problem is everyone assumes everything there is good. And with no one correcting ANYTHING - the error rate continues to rise!

Somehow I don't think this show is going to make researching anyone's tree any easier. In fact I'd be willing to bet a whole new bunch of "click & claim*" family trees show up on Ancestry the very next day.

After all, anyone can find their entire family history correctly documented and posted on Ancestry right?

Happy Researching!

*Click & Claim genealogy - If I can click on it - I can claim it for my own - promptly add it to my family tree. Heck it doesn't need any documentation right!?!?!?!?!!?


Cindy said...

Karen - I love your term "click and claim" and unfortunately this happens all too often with the trees on Ancestry. To make matters worse, when one person has incorrect information in their tree it simply gets "claimed" over and over and over again. Drives me crazy that people see it in text and just believe it's correct. When those of us who view these trees through our researchers eyes, have a problem with information and want to explore with the "researcher" (Or claimer in this case) we often find that they simply copied it from another who got it from another and so on - Ancestry World Tree is to me not an actual "Source" but rather a reference to make you go looking - this is not the case for "claimers". For this reason I don't use Ancestry trees, not because I don't want to share, but it just goes in with the bad and more questions are raised. I'm sure you are correct that many will go this route after the show has been on for a couple weeks - hopefully there will be more questioners of the data than "click and claimers". Great post!

Carol said...

I wish I had written this! One of your best posts!!

Linda McCauley said...

Love your term "click and claim". I recently wrote about this issue and called it "point and click genealogy". I think I like your phrase better.

Karen said...

Share your blog url with me - I'd love to stop in & read ... I have to be careful I get hooked on blog reading & then nothing gets done!

Alice Dilts said...

I like that phrase "click and claim". I agree that to many times people believe that the trees on ancestry are gospel. One lady had a coat of arms posted to her tree and I asked her if she had the documentation for it and she replied she liked to use the coat of arms to track that particular line in her tree and that "purists" (her word) had got after her for using it without documentation. I know that my Tucker family tree on ancestry is wrong! I had my brother Y-DNA tested to see which way to go and the DNA matched with a whole different group than the one the ancestry trees would lead you to believe! I could have spent years barking up the wrong tree! I even sent a message to one person that had it wrong and I never heard back from them (imagine that!)

Terri said...

I can't tell you how many times I have heard "I found my whole tree at rootsweb or ancestry!" Love "click and claim". You are so right!!

lindalee said...

Great blog and I agree with the click and claim phrase.....how appropriate.

Linda McCauley said...

My blog url is http://lfmccauley.blogspot.com/. Thanks for asking. I know what you mean about reading blogs and getting nothing else done. I try to do most of my reading over morning coffee.

Anonymous said...

Karen please contact me. Casper Dute is an ancestor of mine. Reuben Dute is my grandfather. I am a Dute from Amherst, OH.

thanks. Ronda Dute Stewart