Who Do You Think You Are? Magazine was launched in 2007 to accompany the BBC TV series of the same name.
Although we cover stories from the TV series (including an exclusive interview with JK Rowling), our main aim is to enable readers to access and interpret the records that will help them understand and research their own family history. Our features cover a wide range of subject areas, from the basic cornerstones of practical research – how to unlock birth, marriage and death certificate and census records – to more advanced records such as parish registers, newspaper archives, military records, workhouse and Poor Law records. We aim to take our reader deeper than just finding an ancestor’s name on a record and feature stories that will give them a social or location-specific context for their forebears.
In our popular question and answer section, our experts help readers solve their genealogical puzzles and our practical features offer extended advice on topics that vary from police and crime records to hospital and apprenticeship records. Online research and UK regions (for which we also offer free bonus content available via our website).
Our news pages will keep readers up to date with the latest releases that will help their research, while our social history features provide an entertaining and informative window on aspects of the past (anything from body snatchers to the Victorian cycling craze).
The family history community is full of people who want to share their discoveries and their knowledge and to this end we include reader stories – whether it’s a fascinating discovery, an amazing breakthrough in research or a family hero celebrated.
All the material in the magazine is aimed at family historians and every issue has material that would be useful to genealogists at all levels – from absolute beginners to professional researchers.
Key stories that have been covered in past issues include the release of the 1911 census (in 2009) and the release of the 1939 Register (this year) and every year the introduction to the new series of WDYTYA?.
How was the magazine founded and what are some of the most notable features from the earliest years of the publication?
The magazine was founded in 2007 under licence to the BBC television series Who Do You Think You Are? by BBC Worldwide in the run up to season four of the popular family history series. It was timed to tap into the huge surge in popularity that family history was enjoying among the general public at the time (and still is to a certain extent) – largely due to WDYTYA?’s popular celebrity format. It was initially conceived as a sister title to BBC History, the deputy editor of History Magazine, Sarah Williams, given the role of Editor on the new title.
The desire was to create a magazine that tackled the cornerstones of family history research – birth, marriage and death certificates and census records as well as more advanced records such as parish registers, practical advice and behind-the-scenes type pieces on the celebrity stories featured in the show.
The most notable event that generated features in the early years was probably the release of the 1911 census, which campaigners achieved in getting released two years early in 2009.