Title: Shaking the Family Tree
Author: Buzzy Jackson
Release Date: July 6, 2010
Genre: Non-Fiction, Memoir
Rating: 4 out of 5
In this memoir, Buzzy Jackson chronicles how she became interested in tracking the genealogy of her Jackson relatives. She uses different methods, attending genealogy conferences and cruises in order to learn more about it. She learns valuable lessons about genealogy in her quest to uncover the truth about her relatives and ancestors.
I’m always interested in memoirs that contain a personal story while also teaching the reader about something, so when I was offered Shaking the Family Tree for review, I my curiosity was definitely piqued. I know almost nothing about genealogy, though when I was young, we (of course) learned about it in school in our lesson about Ellis Island. I remember feeling jealous that my ancestors didn’t come through that famed immigration port, and that I couldn’t go there to discover when my family arrived in the United States – after all, I already had that information. With that amusing memory at the back of my mind, I started Shaking the Family Tree, curious and eager to learn.
Though I can’t say that I’m now inspired to go trace my family’s entire genealogy, Shaking the Family Tree was definitely an engrossing read. Jackson did a great job overlapping her personal quest for history with the overall information about genealogy. There is a nice balance between the two, and it keeps the book interesting.
The tidbits Jackson chooses to focus on are also very intriguing. I’ve heard of the rising popularity of genealogical DNA tests; Jackson takes one and takes it upon herself to learn what they are useful for and what they aren’t. She visits the Mormon genealogy archives in Salt Lake City, apparently one of the best sources for genealogical information in the world. Her cruise put her in contact with many of the top genealogical figures, and she relates much of what she learns from that experience to the reader. As a result, the reader gets a comprehensive overview on what embarking on a search for family history might entail, without having to pay the costs. If you have a passing interest in genealogy but haven’t gone all out, this is the perfect book for you because it will help you see where you should take your search, and whether you want to put the time and effort into it.
Whether you’re interested in genealogy from a personal point of view, or whether, like me, you just find the topic interesting and like to learn, Shaking the Family Tree is a book you should seek out. It’s not long and goes very quickly, which keeps it from ever really being dry. It’s a great introduction to genealogy and I enjoyed accompanying Buzzy on her search for her Jackson relatives.