Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween From Genealogy Gems

video

Press the PLAY button and then move the lever to get it started

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

New Podcast Launched - Family History: Genealogy Made Easy!


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Millions of Jewish Family History Records Coming Soon

NEW YORK CITY and PROVO, UTAH – Oct. 29, 2008 – Ancestry.com has partnered with two leading organizations committed to the preservation of Jewish heritage – JewishGen, an affiliate of the Museum of Jewish Heritage – A Living Memorial to the Holocaust in New York City that maintains the world’s premier Jewish genealogy website, and the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC), an overseas humanitarian aid organization committed to providing relief for Jews in more than 70 countries. These partnerships will make millions of important Jewish historical documents available on Ancestry.com, many of which are online for the first time ever and searchable for free. These unique records, including photographs, immigration records, Holocaust records and memorials, can now be searched alongside other records already accessible on Ancestry.com, creating the largest collection of Jewish family history records on the Web with more than 26 million records documenting Jewish life.

Details about the new Jewish Family History Collection on Ancestry.com will be unveiled today at a ceremony at the Museum of Jewish Heritage – A Living Memorial to the Holocaust.

“Ancestry.com, the JDC and JewishGen are committed to the preservation of important Jewish historical records, and we’re honored to be working with these well-respected organizations to help in this effort,” said Tim Sullivan, Chief Executive Officer of The Generations Network, Inc. “For the millions of people interested in discovering more about their Jewish heritage, these new partnerships make researching family history easier than ever before.”

Many documents digitized as a part of this agreement have never before been available online, including two important JDC collections:
  • Jewish Transmigration Bureau Deposit Cards, 1939-1954 (JDC), a collection of records showing the amount of money paid by American Jewish citizens to support the emigration of friends and relatives from European countries during and after WWII.
  • Munich, Vienna and Barcelona Jewish Displaced Persons and Refugee Cards, 1943-1959 (JDC), a collection containing records of displaced Jews who were provided with food, medical care and clothing and emigration assistance by the JDC.
“Since 1914, JDC has helped revitalize Jewish communities throughout the world and has helped save the lives of hundreds of thousands of Jews,” said Steve Schwager, Chief Executive Officer for JDC. “We are excited to partner with Ancestry.com, providing descendants access to rare new information about their families and themselves. JDC and Ancestry.com are opening up a wealth of previously inaccessible information through the digitization and dissemination of 125,000 records of those who were helped and of those who helped provide relief to others during and directly after WWII.”

More than 300 databases from JewishGen will also now be available on Ancestry.com. These JewishGen databases represent 14 different countries and contain more than 5 million records, such as:
  • The JewishGen Online Worldwide Burial Registry, an invaluable collection with more than 1 million names of Jews represented in nearly 2,000 Jewish cemeteries around the world.
  • Yizkor Book Necrologies, a list of the names of those murdered in the Holocaust which directs users back to the Yizkor Books themselves – memorials which offer vivid, first-hand accounts of the Holocaust and its aftermath.
  • The Given Names Database, which enables one to learn possible European, Hebrew and Yiddish translations of an ancestor’s given name.
  • A Holocaust Database of 2 million names such as Schindler’s List, which includes names of 1,980 inmates in Oscar Schindler's factories in Plaszów, Poland and Brünnlitz, Czechoslovakia.
  • Jewish Records Indexing (JRI-PL) Poland and All Lithuania Database, representing more than 2 million indexed names from databases in Lithuania and Poland containing vital information on the regions.
"JewishGen began as a volunteer community devoted to gathering and sharing Jewish records," said David G. Marwell, Director of the Museum of Jewish Heritage. "We are excited that, through this new relationship with Ancestry.com, we will be able to broaden our reach and extend our invaluable resources to a much larger group of researchers around the world. The entire community benefits when more people get involved in the fascinating and rewarding activity of researching their family history. "

In July 2008, JewishGen entered into a groundbreaking partnership with Ancestry.com that provides Ancestry.com with significant resources in the Jewish genealogy world. Under the agreement, not only will Ancestry.com eventually receive access to well in excess of 10 million records, some of which date back to the 1700s, but JewishGen’s user base of more than 250,000 will be alerted to Ancestry.com’s rich resources. Ancestry.com will also provide technical support to the JewishGen site.

The JDC and JewishGen databases included in this release will be searchable for free in a new Jewish Family History experience on Ancestry.com at www.ancestry.com/JewishFamilyHistory. These databases can be searched in combination with millions of other invaluable records documenting Jews available on Ancestry.com, including census records, passenger lists, military records and more.

Are Genealogy Wars Starting?


As I mentioned in a previous post What Will You Think You Saw On Who Do You Think You Are? genealogy reality TV is coming soon. The NBC / Is or Isn't Entertainment / Wall to Wall production of Who Do You Think You Are? should hit the airwaves shortly after the first of the year.

Fox Television is not to be outdone though. It's reported that their genealogy reality show Who Am I? is already in production. The Albany Herald out of Albany, Georgia is reporting that actor and comedian George Wallace visited the Dougherty County Judicial Building on Monday afternoon to view records dug up by researchers.

The air date of the new Fox show hasn't been announced yet, but will likely be sometime next year just in time to rival the NBC show.


Monday, October 27, 2008

New Homepage & New Content for Ancestry

Ancestry.com announced today the launch of their updated homepage that you can use to further tailor your homepage to your research style.

"The logged-in homepage now allows you to add, re-order, and remove sections you’re your Ancestry.com homepage. Just click the “Customize your homepage” button at the upper-right to customize your homepage. This will let you move or remove sections you already have on the page. As part of this update, we have also introduced a few new optional items that you can add to your page:
  • Links to key Record collections including individual U.S. Census years and the Ancestry.com
  • Card Catalog
  • A place to easily keep track of and access your Message Board Favorites
  • Quick links to the Ancestry.com Blog and 24/7 Family History Circle Blog
Learn more about the customizable homepage in the Ancestry.com Blog "

New Content
Ancestry.com recently added the following international collections:
Paris, France & Vicinity Births, 1700-1899 (in French)
Paris, France & Vicinity Marriages, 1710-1907 (in French)
Paris, France & Vicinity Deaths, 1707-1907 (in French)
Paris, France & Vicinity Marriage Banns, 1860-1902 (in French)
UK Incoming Passenger Lists, 1878-1960

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

NARA Does More Than Documents!


From the folks at the National Archives:

For most Americans, Election Day marks the end ofthe presidential selection process. At the National Archives, it is only the beginning.

Most Americans know that the National Archives preserves historicaldocuments such as the Declaration of Independence and U.S. Constitution,and the Bill of Rights. But a little known function of the National Archives is the administration of the Electoral College by the Office of the Federal Register.

After Election Day the staff at the Federal Register ensure the complicated and sometimes confusing steps in the electoral process arefollowed exactly. In the weeks prior to the election, they contact state officials who will be responsible for carrying out the provisions of the Constitution and United States Code governing the Electoral College. The main task of National Archives staff is to guide state officials in preparing Certificates of Ascertainment, that identify the electors, and the Certificates of Vote, that document how the electors voted.

The Electoral College consists of 538 Electors (one for each of 435U.S. Representatives and 100 U.S. Senators, and three for the Districtof Columbia). Each state has the same number of electors as it does Members of Congress -- Representatives and Senators. In most states, each political party selects a slate of electors, and the slate pledged to the candidate who won the most popular votes is elected to the Electoral College. Immediately after Election Day, the Governors of each state and the Mayor of the District of Columbia must prepare Certificates of Ascertainment that identify their slate of electors.The states send these certificates by registered mail to the Archivist of the United States, who is required by law to administer the Electoral College.

As the Archivist and the Office of the Federal Register receive the Certificates of Ascertainment from each state, attorneys check them forfacial legal sufficiency. When all certificates are received, the Federal Register makes copies available for public inspection and transmits certificates to each House of Congress.

On December 15, electors meet in each state to cast their votes for President and Vice President. The votes are documented on Certificates of Vote, and the execution of these certificates is witnessed by the Governor, who sends the certificates to the President of the Senate and the Archivist of the United States. As the Certificates of Vote are delivered to the National Archives, attorneys examine the certificates for legal sufficiency. They then make copies available to the public and secure the originals.

The next step at the National Archives is to ensure the Certificates of Vote have been delivered to Congress. The states are required to send certificates directly to the President of the Senate, where they are held under seal until January 6, 2009, when Congress opens and counts them in joint session. The Archivist is responsible for ensuring in advance that the certificates are properly executed and that all Electoral Votes are accounted for. If the President of the Senate has not received copies of the Certificates of Vote sent by the states, the Archivist provides sealed copies.

After the Certificates of Vote are opened and tabulated in a Joint Session of Congress, they are placed in the permanent custody of the National Archives. The National Archives preserves Electoral College documents dating from 1789.

For more information, visit the Electoral College Home Page maintained by the Office of the Federal Register at: www.archives.gov/federal-register/electoral-college/.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Our Summer Vacation Revisited

Dear Readers,

Now that Summer is over, many of us are going through our vacation photos and videos and remembering the good times. I thought it would fun to revisit an unusual summer vacation I had several years ago in this video appropriately called "Our Summer Vacation" (Hang on to your genealogical hats!)

Enjoy! Lisa




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Visit the Genealogy Gems YouTube Channel

Friday, October 17, 2008

More Yearbooks Available Online

Ancestry has recently doubled the size of their yearbook collection. The collection now contains more than 6,000 yearbooks ranging from 1902 to 2005. You can search the updated yearbook collection for free through the end of October at www.ancestry.com/yearbooks.

In conjunction with this yearbook release, they have kicked off a yearbook scanning project. Ancestry.com is compiling a nationwide collection of school yearbooks starting from the time yearbooks began. These yearbooks will be digitized and the resulting images will be made available on their websites. Their goal is to collect yearbooks and histories from institutions such as schools and libraries, however, individuals with collections are welcome to participate also.
Learn more about this project.

And from World Vital Records, "this week's major collection comes from E-Yearbook, one of WorldVitalRecords.com's premier partners. The collection contains two yearbooks from California: Stanford's University Quad, and the University of Southern California’s El Rodeo.Stanford University’s Quad is funded entirely by purchase, advertisement, and dedicatory sales. Originally started in 1895, the Stanford senior class is highlighted while including information from various undergraduate activities. The Quad on WorldVitalRecords.com contains 17,026 records from 1898-1959. “There are an estimated 180,358 living Stanford degree holders, including 72,284 undergraduate alumni, 90,157 graduate alumni, and 17,917 dual-degree holders.

The University of Southern California’s El Rodeo, was named in honor of fundraising activities by yearbook staff. Originally named the Sybil at the yearbook’s start in 1889, the change to El Rodeo occurred in 1899. El Rodeo on WorldVitalRecords.com boasts 17,200 records from 1898-1960. A few notable alumni include George Lucas, Neil Armstrong, John Wayne, and Frank Gehry. An extensive list of distinguished alumni can be found at the USC Alumni Wikipedia site.
"Stanford Facts: Alumni,” Stanford University webpage.
http://www.stanford.edu/about/facts/alumni.html.."

Thursday, October 16, 2008

iThink iMGonna Like the New iGoogle





Wow! One minute you're going along minding your own business chasing down a census record or listening to the latest episode of The Genealogy Gems Podcast (a shameless plug!) and WHAM!! iGoogle looks NOTHING LIKE the iGoogle you knew ten minutes ago.

If you follow the podcast, then you know that I'm a huge advocate of iGoogle for the genealogist. You are truly working too hard if you don't utilize this free tool. (Listen to Episode 15 to get started now)

No worries my friend, iGoogle just got better! (she said optimistically) And from all accounts that should be the case.

It always helps to understand the rational behind "upgrades" like this. Google says it's meant to provide full "canvas views" for gadget and support for full feed reading. Not all of the Google gadgets support full feed reading, but many of the general popular ones do. (Here's a full list of what's currently available) Chances are you will first see the full benefits of this feature in your favorite gadgets produced by Google such as Gmail which will allow you now to read your full email and perform simple actions like send or reply to emails with the new gadget drop down menu without leaving iGoogle. Click the Maximize button in the upper right corner of the Gmail gadget to instantly see how it works.


The other primary reason for this revamp is that Google is trying to make iGoogle a better platform for gadget developers. This means we should expect to see even more cool and innovative gadgets from talented folks all over the world.

So don't be timid. Play around with iGoogle...click all the buttons...sound all the whistles...and have FUN!

Want to learn even more about how to turn iGoogle into your own personal Genealogy Assistant? Become a Genealogy Gems Premium Member and you'll have instant access to the 7 part iGoogle video series. You'll learn everything you need to know to put iGoogle to work for you by watching this step-by-step on-screen tutorial I created specifically for you, the family historian. And as a member you'll also enjoy Members Only podcast episodes, the Message Forum, and much more. Use the coupon code SAVE20 and save 20% off the annual membership for a limited time only. Sign Up Today.




I'm It - A Game of Tag

Diane Haddad over at the Genealogy Insider Blog has tagged me, (as did Bruce Buzbee at the Rootsmagic blog) in a game of Genealogy Blogger Tag. So I will tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, unless of course it makes me look bad. Here we go...

10 Years Ago I ...
  1. was working in Human Resources
  2. had teenage daughter for the first time (I've survived three now!)
  3. was doing a lot more cross stitching than I do now
  4. had never heard of a podcast - they didn't exist
  5. (with all this trying to remember my brain hurts)
Five Things on Today's To-Do List:
  1. Decorate my middle daughter's birthday cake (she turned 21 yesterday and the party is tomorrow)
  2. Finish recording Genealogy Gems Episode 53
  3. Finish sewing my youngest daughter's costume for her upcoming Choir performance
  4. Prep for speaking at Saturday's conference in Northern CA
  5. Tag 5 more bloggers
Five snacks I enjoy:

  1. Pringles potatoe chips
  2. Coke Cherry Zero
  3. Laffy Taffy
  4. Anything with Carmel
  5. My daughter's homemade Snickerdoodle cookies

Five Places I’ve Lived:

  1. Puyallup, WA (try to pronounce that correctly!)
  2. Stockton
  3. Tacoma
  4. Pullman
  5. Modesto
Five Jobs I’ve Had:
  1. Pizza maker
  2. First female salesperson at Radio Shack in our state as far as I know
  3. Theatre Director
  4. Human Resources Director
  5. Podcaster








Above: Here I am (seated center, wearing pink) and one of my terrific casts!

Tag - You're It!
AnceStories by Miriam Robbins Midkiff
Genealogy Traces by Judith G. Shubert
MacGenealogist by Ben Sayer
The Practical Archivist by Sally Jacobs
Genea-musings by Randy Seaver

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Getting the Most Out of WorldCat

To take advantage of everything WorldCat has to offer, consider these free, quick and easy upgrades to your account recommended by the folks at WorldCat:

- Fill in your profile.
- Catch tagging fever. Group things the way YOU find most helpful.
- Make a list. Covers-only view is a great way to browse a long list.
- Write a review. Share your opinions with the world.
- Rate an item. Help others be informed.
- Get automatic citations. Generated for APA, MLA, Harvard, Chicago, Turabian style.

Learn About Lists: You can also learn how to create a List and get some good ideas on fun thing to do with WorldCat Lists by watching this 3 minute video:


Seeking Citations: Still want more? Learn how to use the WorldCat.org citations tool to cite research items and help you create a bibliography in this brief video. (1 min 47 sec)



Wild About Webinars: And finally, sign up for the free Live WorldCat Webinar on Oct. 28 at 2:00pm Eastern, 11:00am Pacific. You’ll get a sneak preview of what’s coming in the future and be able to ask questions and give your feedback. It's all from the world of WorldCat!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

More Biographical TV Set To Hit The Air

Reality Show producer Mark Burnett (Survivor, The Apprentice) is resurrecting the classic TV show This Is Your Life according to a recent report by Reuters.

The show has an impressive genealogy of its own. It was born as a radio show airing from 1948 to 1952 on NBC Radio. It then grew into a television series hosted by its producer Ralph Edwards from 1952 to 1961 on NBC. And it enjoyed a brief comeback in 1972.


While I'm too young to have enjoyed the original
series, I distinctly remember Ralph Edwards honoring Shirley Jones from my FAVE childhood TV show The Partridge Family in 1972

This Is Your Life also had cuzins in the United Kingdom (starting in 1955), and more recently in Australia and New Zealand.

Take the This Is Your Life Pop Quiz:

1) Which celebrity refused to appear when surprised by Edwards?

2) What famous movie comedy team made their TV debut on This Is Your Life?

3) Which honoree was the most annoyed by being ambushed for the show?

4) What was the name of the character played by Flip Wilson who was "surprised" by Edwards on The Flip Wilson Show?

5) On what long running talk show was Edwards himself the recipient of This Is Your Life spoof?

Click here for the answers


Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Buckeye State Gets A Genealogy Boost


The Generations Network, which owns Ancestry.com, just announced the following:

Summit County Ohio Court Receives GrantHundreds of thousands of historic records will be freely available online.

Ancestry.com, FamilySearch, and the National Association of Government Archive and Records Administrators (NAGARA) announced this summer that Judge Bill Spicer and the Probate Division of the Summit County Common Pleas Court in Akron, Ohio, were awarded a 2008 grant for the digitization of Summit County marriage, birth, and death records. The court’s grant was one of only two awarded in 2008. This significant grant will make it possible for Summit County to digitally preserve and provide free online access to select historical documents.

The project targets 1840 to 1980 marriage records for over 550,000 individuals, birth records prior to 1908 for over 46,000 individuals, and death records prior to 1908 for over 22,000 individuals. A free, searchable name index linked to the digital images of the original records will be available to the public through the probate court’s Web site and the grant partners’ sites.

“As a result of the grant, our Website, which was chosen as one of the 10 best in the country by the National College of Probate Judges, will now have the added distinction of being a model for the state and country for accessing historical court records,” said Judge Spicer. “Not only will it improve access, but by reducing the need to see the often-fragile originals, it will make the court’s job of preserving hundreds of thousands of original records easier. The project is a far-sighted and important effort in preserving local history. On behalf of the court and the citizens of Summit County, I thank the project sponsors for selecting Summit County Probate Court as its 2008 grant recipient.”

This is the first year that this national grant was offered. It is sponsored by Ancestry.com and FamilySearch and administered by NAGARA. Under the grant, FamilySearch will digitize the original documents on-site in the Summit County courthouse by the end of 2008, and Ancestry.com will create an electronic index linked to the images. The entire project is scheduled for completion in 2009. The commercial value of the grant is estimated to be $150,000.00.

Monday, October 6, 2008

"America cultivates the best Germany brought forth"







"Few people have blended so completely into the multicultural tapestry of American society and yet have made such singular economic, political, social, scientific, and cultural contributions to the growth and success of these United States as have Americans of German extraction."
-President Ronald Reagan, 1987

If you have German blood running through your veins, then you have a lot to be proud of on this 6th day of October because it is German-American Day in the U.S. The holiday was proclaimed by President Ronald Reagan in 1983 in honor of the 300th anniversary of German American immigration and culture to the United States.

German-American Day commemorates the date of Oct. 6, 1683 when 13 German families from Krefeld near the Rhine landed in Philadelphia. They went on to found Germantown, PA, the first German settlement in the original thirteen American colonies.

The origins of this day of commemoration goes back to the nineteenth century. Not surprisingly German-American Day faded away during World War I due to anti-German sentiment. Thanks to President Reagan it has enjoyed a revival.

On August 6, 1987 that Congress finally approved the Resolution and President Reagan was able to sign it on August 18. Proclamation #5719 was then issued on Oct. 2 in a formal White House Rose Garden ceremony. The President called upon all Americans to observe the Day with the appropriate ceremonies and activities.

My German ancestors arrivals span the centuries. My most recent German ancestors landed on November 22, 1910. Great Grandfather Gustav Sporowski had made the journey in September in hopes of getting settled and finding employment. But by November Great Grandmother Louise could wait no longer, recently discovering she was expecting their second child.

As the story goes, she sold the last of their possessions, sewed their remaining money and gold into her petticoats and took her four-year-old daughter Martha by the hand and boarded the S. S. Kroonland in Antwerp, Belgium. Louise later recalled meeting Gus at the Ellis Island “kissing post” with a kiss and her happy news.

When I think back at the hesitation I felt as a young mom just thinking about taking my 4 year old to the grocery store, I truly stand in awe of the woman who brought her 4 year old across an ocean!






(Photo: Gus is holding the dog with little Martha standing behind him, while he and his chums prime the keg in Gillespie, Illinois.)

“America cultivates the best Germany brought forth” Benjamin Franklin

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Google's 10th Birthday: How Has Google Changed Your Research?


Can you believe it? It was 11 years ago on Sept. 27, 1997 that the unusual domain name Google.com was registered. And now the search giant is celebrating it's 10th Birthday. In commemoration, Google has posted a searchable timeline illustrating their evolution. This is a fun and nostalgic walk down Internet memory lane that I think you'll enjoy.

Here's a quick list of what I rely on today that was only a dream in some Google designer's head 10 years ago:

  • Google Alerts - how I find ancestors and websites without even looking
  • iGoogle - and EVERYTHING that it does for me
  • Google Reader - tracking my fave genealogy podcasts and blogs
  • Gmail - how I stay in touch with everyone
  • Grand Central - how I hear from my podcast listeners
  • Google Translate - how I translate those pesky German texts
  • Google Images - which I use every day
  • Google Patents - where I found an ancestors original patent
  • Google Books - where do I start?
  • Blogspot - which is how I publish this blog!
  • and countless more tools...

Where were you in your research ten years ago?
And how has Google changed how you conduct that research?

Become a Genealogy Gems Podcast Premium Member and get the 7 part video series Google Is A Goldmine of Genealogy Gems. Use the Coupon Code SAVE20 to get 20% off the annual price.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

11 New Languages at Google Translate


Have you uncovered some exciting new records only to discover they are not in English? Well Google Translate recently added 11 new languages that just may solve your dilema. The newest additions are: Catalan, Filipino, Hebrew, Indonesian, Latvian, Lithuanian, Serbian, Slovak, Slovenian, Ukrainian and Vietnamese.


Google's machine translation service now supports 35 languages and you can use it to translate text between any combination of languages.

Keep in mind that Google usually uses English as the intermediary language, so when you translate a text from Ukrainian to Lithuanian, Google internally translates the text to English first and then translates the result to Lithuanian.

You'll get the best results when one of the languages is English, and for most of us that works out well.


29 Million More Records Added to Record Search Pilot

From the folks at FamilySearch:

"Over 29 million names or record images were added this week to FamilySearch’s Record Search pilot. Significant data was published from 2 indexing projects (1860 and 1870 U.S. Censuses), 3 digital image collections [Vermont Probate Files, Quebec Parish Registers, and Cheshire Church Records], and 3 enhanced vital record index collections [Mexico and Germany Baptisms]. "

Complete listing of records added the week of September 29, 2008.


The entire collection can be searched for free directly online at http://pilot.familysearch.org/ or through the Search Records feature at FamilySearch.org.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

What Will You Think You Saw On "Who Do You Think You Are?"

Latest update: the new version of Wall to Wall's BBC hit Who Do You Think You Are? is due to air on NBC in January according to a recent article in the Guardian.co.uk, a British online newspaper.

The date has shifted around a bit. I spoke with a source inside the production team last month and they were ramping up and anticipating a Spring release. Some of the fluidity of the launch date can likely be attributed to producers desire to ensure that the family trees uncovered are tantilizing enough to meet their previously stated desire to bring stories of "heroism, tragedy, love and betrayal."

The British producer of this new series (in conjunction with U.S. firm Is or Isn't Entertainment) is Wall to Wall. Interestingly, Wall to Wall was the UK producer of PBS's Texas Ranch House in 2006 in which my family and I were featured. While the historical experience itself was wonderful, the final television product was far less than factual. The producers desire to create a particular outcome dominated the editing, naration, and music, etc.

This concept is concisely and eloquently discussed by Dominic Lawson in his article The camera always lies. So why deny it? in the Independent (31 July 2007 ) As a fellow "reality TV" participant, I can tell you that he really hits the nail on the head. In the article he describes the contrived scenes that the Who Do You Think You Are? producers put forward. Sometimes he went along, sometimes he didn't.

He writes: "What happens in such situations is that you begin to see things from the point of view of the programme maker - who wants drama - and so fall in with his script."

As a participant, you truly don't think you will go along, but in the end you often do. You start to understand how the fish in the fishbowl feels. After a while you just do what you need to in order to get fed. (And for us on Texas Ranch House, that was literally the case!)

Lawson continues..."At one stage she (his sister) and I were meant to have looked up our ancestry on some public record office website and we were filmed apparently making this discovery together. We had done no such thing. The programme makers had stuck the whole document on my computer - and told us what buttons to press: we then pretended to be doing the work ourselves - and also to be startled to find out the truth (which of course we already knew)."

Malcolm Muggeridge, a great print journalist who became a regular television performer in his old age, said: "Not only can the camera lie; it always lies." So if that's a well known fact, what's the harm? Lawson sums up what I have thought for the last two years: "The problem is that a large section of the population seems increasingly to believe that what is on television is reality."

I have experienced this for a fact. Countless people have said to me after watching Texas Ranch House "But I know what I saw!" It's difficult to explain unless you've been on both sides of the camera. But I can give you just one example. In one vital scene of our show one of the cowboys is shown listening intently, when in fact he left the set that week to attend a friend's wedding!

So this poses the question: In January will we "know what we saw?" As genealogists, my hope is that we will keep our cool, watch with a skeptical and logical eye, and still manage to be entertained. If we remember it's entertainment, we'll be AOK. If not, shame on us.

My insider also confirmed that the folks at Ancestry are doing much of the research for the show. I can fully appreciate the desire to be part of the production. I had the same optimistic, "let's further the genealogy cause" attitude back in 2005 when applying for TRH. But knowing what I know now...