Saturday, 19 February 2011

Rosie O'Donnell in Montreal for WDYTYA

The third in episode in the second US series of Who Do You Think You Are? saw US personality Rosie O'Donnell's journey of exploration of her mother's ancestry take her to Montreal.

She was first in a Catholic church where she examined original parish records. The same information might well be found online through the Drouin collection.

Then she went to l'ANQ, the Archives Nationales du Québec, where she examined census records. It was a site chosen for visual impact as it is not the repository of the originals. Anyone could examine that source online.

The final Montreal stop was the Grande Bibliothèque where she found the one record of the place of birth for her ancestor, in a newspaper death announcement on microfilm, which was localized the place to search in Ireland.. This is likely the one source not yet available online, a realistic reflection of the situation regarding digitization of Canadian newspaper records.

The census record showed some children of the family born in Ireland, some in Canada. The baptismal records of the children in Ireland allowed her to discover the exact parish of origin and an entry in Poor Law records showing the family being emigrated to Canada from the workhouse.

All in all the show showed O'Donnell following a reasonably convincing trail of investigation. It would be nice if for once they would mention the actual amount of effort needed, as well as showing the obligatory few turns of the microfilm handle by the Star.

3 comments:

Mike More said...

Although Rosie spent a bit more effort, the word that came to mind for the shows was "superficial". I am still disappointed by how little effort it seems to take on the show, although they seem to like jetting around the world to get their information on the spot. I did like the fact that Rosie actually looked at siblings of her ancestors, including tracing forward the descendants of her grandfather's half sister. But the earlier shows seem to worry only about driving their own line backwards as far as possible. It may be good for the hobby that the show will spark interest in a wider population but now we will have to educate them in "proper" genealogical research methods.

LDC said...

I too am dismayed to see how little work it seems to take on WDYTYA; however I tend to think that viewers will contribute this streamlining to having professional researchers help you (at cost).

At least the show is getting people interested in genealogy. It will be easier to get more people interested in preservation and more digitization if they are interested in genealogy in the first place.

Paul Jones said...

Come on, folks. This is TV, not a graduate seminar. Imagine how boring it would be for those watching if research was depicted realistically.

Why do we always want to make genealogy seem so like a punishment or penance to non-practitioners?

Do we make the same complaint about "History Detectives" or, further afield, cooking shows on the Food Channel? Probably not. Yet these programs are no more realistic for exactly the same reason. Their primary mission is to be watchable television.