WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE? by Suzanne Hilton


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Hilton gets carried away in predicting what one might learn about oneself by tracking down family history, even suggesting that if you like rain it might be because your ancestors came from a dry country. The worst that can be said about her presentation is that it may raise false hopes by underestimating the difficulties of such a search; nowadays, with the average American moving every five years, we wonder how many children have access to old diaries, the relevant historical society libraries, or even the ""memory banks"" of their own grandparents. Certainly few youngsters who fall into the most difficult categories--adoptees, descendants of recent immigrants or slaves--will have either the clues or the resources to match the success story of Alex Haley who traveled all the way to Africa to find his ancestral Roots. Those who won't be put off by Hilton's garrulous and sometimes condescending anecdotes (a whole chapter is devoted to warning readers to be tolerant of their forebears' behavior) will find a useful basic outline of genealogical sources with special help adults might not need or put up with--how to compose letters, use a microfilm reader, and avoid harassing librarians. With a good bibliography and records sources appended, this offers enough help to launch at least half-way serious hobbyists . . . and it might, though one can imagine more weighty inducements than the promise that ""genealogy is like peanuts.

Pub Date: April 19th, 1976
Publisher: Westminster