History Detectives is a good term to describe genealogists but it’s also the name of a show on PBS. It’s kind of like Antiques Roadshow in that they take an item and tell its history. Much more in depth than the Roadshow; they solve three cases per show. I like how they show that small things can be part of a bigger theme.
They never solve a case in a direct way, however. I think it’s part of their educational aim, telling us the history of the Wild West or a timeline of board-game development to get to the answer. Although they may want me to learn something about history – which I often do – it’s their methodology that I watch it for.
Often times the processes used in genealogy apply to a case. A recent episode I saw showed them solving all three cases by using the Internet to search for records. They didn’t make it obvious but to someone who spends hours a day there, I easily recognized Ancestry.com. I thought perhaps Ancestry.com had sponsored the show, but saw no evidence of it in the credits. I guess it just happens. Kind of like my blogging about PBS shows.
If you like these type of hunts, check out Megan Smolenyak’s latest quest. She is a pro at solving history mysteries and her solutions are always direct and elegant.