Who Do You Think You Are Magazine

Archived since July 2010 Modern Archive Monthly
182 issues
Established in 2007, Who Do You Think You Are? Magazine is the best-selling family history magazine in the UK.

Above all we try to give our readers the knowledge and the wherewithal, whatever their level of expertise or budget, to break down brick walls and add not just names to their family tree but to flesh out those names and really get to know their ancestors and the times they lived in. With close links to the experts linked to the Who Do You Think You Are? TV programme we are in an ideal position to be able to do that. 

We offer practical advice to researching your ancestors from roughly the start of the 16th century to the 1950s. Our aim is to “inform, educate and entertain” the readers, keeping them abreast of the latest releases and research techniques – and springing a few surprises on them along the way. Contributors to the magazine include some of the biggest names in family history today including researchers for the TV series as well as historians such as Virginia Nicholson, Amanda Vickery, Jad Adams, Lucy Worsley and Michael Wood.

Subjects: Ancestry, Family, Geneaology, History

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  • First Issue: July 2010
  • Latest Issue: August 2024
  • Issue Count: 182
  • Published: Monthly
  • ISSN: 2514-4464

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.

When did you first get involved and who were the key figures working for the publication at that time (editors, publishers or contributors)?
I joined the magazine in 2007 just in time to work on issue 2. I started as production editor and worked my way up to deputy editor (although I am standing in for the editor Sarah Williams at the moment ). Sarah has been at the helm right from the first issue. The Publisher when I joined was Andy Benham and other notable names who have been involved with the title include Nick Brett (former Radio Times editor) who was Group Editor. Historians Alan Crosby and Jad Adams have been writing for the magazine from its inception and we’ve had contributions from a range of military and naval historians such as Saul David and Roy and Lesley Adkins and social historians such as Virginia Nicholson and Lucy Worsley. We also feature experts in the field of family history and have always included regular first-class material from researchers linked to the series including Jenny Thomas, Sara Khan and Laura Berry, as well as assistance from the show’s producers with putting together celebrity features and other series-related pieces, such as Alex Graham, Colette Flight and Sarah Feltes.

How would you characterise the strengths of the magazine over the years, and how has this changed (important contributors, scoops, controversies, landmarks)?
One of our strengths has been our close ties with the BBC TV series. We were the only publication JK Rowling would reveal the inside story of making her episode to.
More recently, we have forged close relationships with the major subscription websites and have managed to get inside information on big releases before anyone else. We were the first to be told the release date of the eagerly-awaited 1939 register and were quick to cover the response to its release and the costs involved in the magazine and online.
Which disciplines will be particularly interested in the resource (e.g. Oenology, Agriculture, History)? And why, if it’s not obvious?
Family history and also local, social and military history.