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Who Do You Think You Are?: The Essential Guide to Tracing Your Family History Paperback – 2010

5.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review

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Product Details

  • Paperback
  • Publisher: Penguin (Non-Classics) (2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0143118919
  • ISBN-13: 978-0143118916
  • Product Dimensions: 13.7 x 1.5 x 21.6 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 204 g
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #528,031 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I loved this book it reads quite well and I would recommend this book
its not the same at the series it gives you the information to start your family history
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.7 out of 5 stars 86 reviews
36 of 36 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good, fun to read, beginning guide May 24 2010
By Pat in Northern Utah - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Although promoted as a "companion" to the popular TV series, this good and enjoyable guide to beginning genealogy really has little to do with the show, except for a color section in the middle covering each of the participants. Instead it's a nuts-and-bolts guide to 1) getting started on your family-history quest, and 2) the most commonly-used (and some not-so-common) records.

Smolenyak writes enthusiastically and well. She is passionate about her subject and it shows.

In some ways, the book suffers for the same reasons that the TV show suffers: it makes it look too easy. This is probably unavoidable in a beginning guide or a popular TV show since covering all the caveats might turn off the audience. That said, I wish there had been at least some emphasis on how one might go about developing skills, such as taking classes (which are often free or inexpensive), attending conferences, etc. Also lacking is any meaningful discussion of evaluation of and analysis of all of the various pieces of evidence one finds; obviously this can't be done thoroughly in a book like this, but it should at least be addressed.

The author works for [...], the giant online genealogical service; although it is noted on the jacket blurb, in the interest of full disclosure she could have been a little more forthcoming about that relationship throughout the book when one of ancestry's features or databases takes center stage. Her recommendation of [...]'s member tree feature (as her first suggestion for software to use for your data) is ludicrous; I would be very surprised if that is her own database software of choice. (Save the comments: I'm a whole-world subscriber to and think it's a fabulous and essential resource.)

What I especially like about this book, in addition to the writing, is its begin-at-the-beginning approach (start with yourself and work back); this may seem obvious, but it's not obvious to many beginners. There is a good section on home sources, talking to relatives, etc. The record examples and illustrations are great: generally from the famous or infamous (Chef Boyardee and Al Capone, to name a couple). Smolenyak's chapter about her search for President Obama's Irish ancestors is one of the best parts of the book because it illustrates difficult aspects to resolving a genealogical problem and, in this case, doesn't make it look easy.

I recommend this book for anyone who wants to begin researching their family and to more experienced researchers who will probably find, as I did, some new (particularly online) resources.
33 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Great Genealogical Aid! March 20 2010
By texicanwife - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
"Who Do You Think You Are?"

"Who Do Think You Are?" The Essential Guide to Tracing Your Family History, A companion To The NBC Series

By Megan Smolenyak [2], Chief Genealogical Consultant

Viking Penguin


ISBN 978-0-670-02163-5

When my preordered book arrived, it was probably one of the most anticipated books I had ordered in quite some time!

Having been a fan of Megan's for a long time, I already knew it was going to be good.

Megan takes us on a journey, in plain, simple language, and easy understanding, to find our ancestors.

She fully explains the "tools of the trade" for someone who knows absolutely not one thing about genealogy, other than having a desire to trace their family history. But she does it in such a way that those of us who have been doing just such research for many years, finds it a pleasant recall and entertaining! Never is it boring, stuffy or redundant.

She touches on each of the NBC series participants, without giving so much away that we are let down when we actually watch the appropriate episode. Instead, we find ourselves saying, "I'm so glad she didn't give too much away! What a great show!"

In nine, easy-to-read chapters, Megan takes us through preparing for the search; using the Internet to assist us in our search; how to utilize the census records; using vital records [birth, marriage and death]; military records; performing research in other countries; and passing on our research through sharing.

If you haven't purchased your copy of "Who Do You Think You Are?" yet, I highly encourage you to get one now. Even if you've been researching for a long time, you're going to find some great vital information that you either didn't know about, or you have forgotten about! And if you are new to the "genie" bug, then I can't think of a better book to help you get started!
5.0 out of 5 stars Helpful Guide June 20 2016
By Kirsten Thomas - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I bought this book to have as a helpful guide for a genealogy project I was assigned last semester. It was in great condition and I received it when expected. Thank you!
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Solid Book April 21 2010
By Amazon Customer - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I first got this on my Kindle and then bought the hardback. This is a great book for the beginner and the more experienced family historian/genealogist. The information is solid and as up to date as it can be. The style is easy to read AND it is difficult to put down once reading begins! I am using it with a group from our local Sons In Retirement (SIR), yep, old guys who are interested in their ancesty and leaving a legacy. This book is a big help for them.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Journey to the Past May 22 2010
By PFZPK - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Megan's guide to tracying your family history is both an enjoyable and informative read, not only for those who are starting out on the family tree journey but for those who have been on the path for a number of years. For those who are starting out it provides clear guidance on what is available and how it can be accessed. If you have been researching your family tree for some time it may be a comfort to learn that Megan has also encountered brick walls, her strategy for overcoming difficulties is also helpful.

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