Our Obsession with Ancestry has some Twisted Roots

Yesterday I mentioned the book Ancestor Trouble by Maud Newton. Now Myra Jasanoff has published an article in the New Yorker inspired by Newton. Worth reading, even if it makes you uncomfortable.

2 Replies to “Our Obsession with Ancestry has some Twisted Roots”

  1. I am about 1/3rd the way through that book, and so far I find it fascinating. So far it is just describing the mysteries that surround Maud’s family, such as one grandfather who allegedly married 13 times, and how and where she found information. Yes, she wanders off into DNA discussions and its implications but so far it’s very good and very entertaining.

  2. This is an excellent review of the history and development of genealogical searching. It reminds me of the recent book RootsQuest which was in the Ontario Genealogical Society recent Families journal. But it goes much further.

    For me, the development of behemoth global companies like Ancestry have muddied the waters. In the 90’s Ancestry.com produced bogus books with titles such as ‘The Reid Name in History’ ‘The Jackson Name in History’. They produced both American and British versions filled with trivial U.S. or U.K. history and tried to force a surname into historic facts. Ancestry sent me a couple gratis because of my calling them out on this tactic.

    Ancestry hunting is fraught with issues, and I am glad to see this article and will forward it to friends. The growth of the ‘big four’ genealogy global firms is distressing to some.

    These, of course, are entirely my personal views.

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