27 February 2011

WDYTYA: Kim Cattrall, and comment

The current popularity of family history, illustrated by the millions of viewers of WDYTYA, is because the program tells good stories about well known people.

Actress Kim Cattrall's episode, shown in the US Who Do You Think You Are? series on NBC and CITY TV in Canada on Friday evening, was a great story. It was a light edit of the UK version. I noticed a deletion, some different voice-overs explaining some of the English references for a US audience, and a bit of sub-titling to clarify words said in a British dialect.

The research behind the discoveries in England was quite simple for anyone who knows their way around the data sources, which obviously the family did not.

Technological tools and good genealogical practices, while essential for genealogical practitioners, are of passing interest to most WDYTYA viewers. That's reflected in numbers; compare the 3,000 people who went to Rootstech in Salt Lake City earlier in the month to the 15,000 to 17,000 expected at WDYTYA Live in London this weekend, many of them crowding in to sessions to hear celebrities.

Contrary to some of the rhetoric surrounding Rootstech, any local family history society that forgets the primacy of people finding out family stories, and focuses solely on technology, is doomed to a niche existence.


Liz said...

I don't think this is fair to WDYTYA live. I was there last year and there were lots of people doing solid family history research there at the many family history society stands who did lookups in parish records etc. And lots were using the free access to the pay per view database sites too.

Anonymous said...

Anne S. says...it is not only family stories that are an important way to connect, but also the connection with people themselves. Meeting people from other backgrounds than mine is creating a more open mind, and is enriching my life. Photos found in a shoebox were not online, and neither was the 87 year old man with the family tales. The telephone has been connecting me with people, some as old as 97, whom I would not otherwise meet.