Have you ever seen that TV show called Who Do You Think You Are? It’s a television reality program that traces the family histories of celebrities. It’s based on a popular show in the UK by the same name. In the show, the celebrities come along for the journey as genealogists help them trace their family tree.
Here’s a clip from the show to help you get the idea:
The PBS series Finding Your Roots with Henry Louis Gates, Jr. operates on a similar premise. They use traditional methods of genealogy research along with DNA techniques to discover connections and relationships from the past.
It’s amazing the kinds of things they find out. For example, J.K. Rowling discovered that a family member of hers killed several German soldiers, and Bill Paxton uncovered his family’s role in the American Revolution.
In these shows, we get a glimpse of some of the methods used to trace genealogy. This is the kind of thing I researched intensively for my new series starring Michael Flint, the Heir Hunter. One document leads to a name which often leads to travels… which leads to more questions…. which leads to more investigation.
That type of investigation is Michael Flint’s job as an heir hunter. A real life heir hunter is a forensic genealogist, someone who researches ancestry by means of standard records and more, for profit. It was the “and more, for profit” piece that I’ve used to create the Michael Flint novels. The “and more, for profit” opens all sorts of story possibilities, doesn’t it? My writer’s mind went to work, furiously plotting.
While we’re waiting for my new books on the topic to release, you might enjoy the television show Who Do You Think You Are or Finding Your Roots, or even poking around on www.ancestry.com. If you uncover anything interesting about your family tree, leave a comment; I’d love to hear!