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Spring Brings Great Genealogy Reads and Online Shows! – Wisdom Wednesday

I’m always on the lookout for books, movies, and other fun fictional stuff featuring genealogists.  Hollywood and fiction writers love to place genealogists in a lot of the same stereotypes – namely obsessed research-driven people who glorify the deceased and whilst bumbling around the present with limited social skills.   Occasionally, I do meet these Hollywood envisioned people, but for the most part, I see the ‘driven’ quality in most of the folks I meet.  Persistence is a trait of genealogists, the way patience is a skill for therapists.

The same could said in my capacity as a librarian as well.  My friends think my life is like the TNT Librarian movies with Noah Wyle.  Or I get the ‘Conan The Librarian’ joke.  Which is still funny.

Last year I asked you all for movies and books featuring genealogists in both fictional and real-world accounts, and the suggestions were fantastic!  Now I want to introduce you to a new batch of awesome genealogy read-and-watch-alikes!

I’ve had a few suggestions to read the Suzie Fewings Genealogical Mystery series by Fay Sampson.  There are currently four books in the series: In The Blood, A Malignant House, Those in Peril and Father Unknown.  Suzie Fewings, avid genealogist and devoted mother, is busy lifting the veil off her family history.  Larger mystery lurks behind the genealogical research, and the end result of each book is surprising.  I enjoyed the first book in the series  very much, and I would recommend it to anyone who likes a good British mystery.

Related series: Natasha Blake Ancestor Detective Series by Fiona Mountain; Family Tree Mysteries by Patricia Sprinkle.

A few years ago, I read Erik Larson’s Thunderstruck, and I pushed it on every patron I knew.  Thunderstruck chronicles the flight of murder suspect Dr. Hawley Crippen on a ship that is carrying a Marconi wireless communications system.  Crippen thought he was traveling incognito, but the ship’s crew were able to send daily reports of his activities to authorities in New York and London with their wireless system.  Crippen was arrested, found guilty, and executed in London.  Erik Larson, who would later publish Devil In The White City, was able to create a gripping narrative of Dr. Crippen’s Atlantic crossing and Marconi’s passionate drive to prove his device was a technological advantage.  Where does the genealogy come into play you ask?  Then you need to watch Secrets of the Dead: Executed in Error.  You can watch it online at PBS for free!  During the course of a new forensic investigation into the case, a genealogist submitted evidence that Dr. Crippen may not have been guilty of the crime in which he was accused.  It’s a pleasing and thought provoking idea that a genealogist can provide assistance on a case that’s over a century old!

On the non-fiction front, I’ve pre-ordered a copy of Napoleonic Lives: Researching the British Soldiers of the Napoleonic Wars by Carole Divall.  I cannot wait to read it!  I’ve been tossing around the idea of jumping into this aspect of my research, and when I have a better understanding of how these records work, I’ll be on my way.  Napoleonic Lives will be released in June, so while I don’t have it in my hands yet, it still qualifies as a great spring read!

So get out your notebooks genealogists!  Can you suggest a title, movie, or television show?  Post your suggestions in the comment box on this page!

See You At The Library!


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