Janice’s Review Blog

Archive for January 2009

The Northwest Regional Library, a part of the Maricopa County Library District, offers two free classes on genealogy each month.  During these classes, Susan Smith shares over 24 years of experience and information that she continues to accumulate while searching for her family roots.


Smith distributes free handouts in both classes and gives a list of useful magazines, books and Web sites to help gather information.  Participants in the class follow along with the handouts and the computer presentation on the big screen in front of the classroom.  They ask specific questions about their own family members, and Smith quickly shows them how to search for their existence using different Web sites.


The library maintains three databases that patrons may use to do research: America’s Obituaries and Death Notices, Heritage Quest Online and Ancestry Library.  Ancestry Library must be accessed at the library, but the other two research sites may be accessed by logging onto the library Web site from any location.  Smith hands out a lavender library information sheet, which contains information on these databases.  She also distributes a green handout that gives instructions on Ancestry Library.


Students learn research tricks that only a seasoned genealogy researcher knows.  The beginners’ class runs from 1 to 2:30 p.m. while the Internet class last at least two hours from 1 to 3 p.m. and sometimes later.


In the beginners’ class, Smith supplies students with information and forms on how to begin their research.  She answers students’ questions and suggests possibilities to make their research easier.  In the Internet class, students receive pages of Internet Web sites to do research locally, nationally and internationally.  One site reviews genealogy software, another gives access to the full text of books and others show how to publish family trees online.  Also included are links to blogs, podcasts, videos, cemeteries, prison and insane asylum records and newspapers. 


Smith throws in a bonus by listing the largest genealogy library in the world, the Family History Library.  This Web site contains instructions to download free software and the library’s whole catalog.


In her memoir, Audition, Barbara Walters uses the same thorough and honest interviewing skills she’s used for more than 40 years to document the details of her own life. 

The book begins even before the birth of Walters with a description of her parents and how they met and lived.  Jacqueline, her older, mentally challenged sister, presented challenges to Walters throughout her life.  Dena, her realist mother, confided in Walters even as a young child.  Her famous father, Lou Walters, who used his creative mind to win and lose fortunes in the entertainment industry, shaped the way Walters made choices during her life.  His actions took a toll on his entire family.


After graduation from Birch Wathen High School, Walters wanted to attend Wellesley.   She applied to three colleges, Wellesley, Pembroke and Sarah Lawrence.  Because of her insecurities, she decided to attend Sarah Lawrence after Pembroke rejected her and Wellesley put her on a waiting list.  This decision defined the choices she made for her professional life.


The book follows Walters from her first job at an advertising agency through her successful television career.  She enters the male dominated domain of news anchors, morning show hosts, producers and writers by outwitting and outlasting her male counterparts. 


 Through her honesty, integrity, and hard work, Walters gained the trust and respect of those she chose to interview and many of her colleagues.  Walters documents hair-raising world journeys, but also tells of all of the time and work that went into her research and preparation for every interview.  She relates difficulties with male counterparts, and how she hangs on and prevails even in the most difficult situations.


Walters documents her first meeting with Cuban leader Fidel Castro.  She tells of the work that went into getting a subsequent interview for an ABC news special and her adventures as she travelled with and interviewed Castro.


Prime Minister Began presents Walters with an opportunity to interview himself and President Sadat together after a live ABC broadcast to the Israeli Knesset.  She characterized this interview by writing, “Richard Nixon may have gotten me an interview with Prince Phillip, but Begin had gotten me the most important interview of my career.” 


The interviews that Walters does over the years consist of celebrities, world leaders, movie stars and murderers.  She lists the interviews she never got to do and those she wished she had never done.


Along with the her professional side, Walters also divulges her personal side.  Unlucky in marriage, Walters describes her relationship with each of her three husbands.  She candidly describes her love affair with a married, African American senator and friendships and relationships with other men in her life.  After suffering through three miscarriages and many failed attempts to have her own child, Walters shares the joy of adopting her daughter, Jacqueline, and their subsequent relationship over the years.  In addition to all of her other responsibilities, she continued to support her mother, father and sister financially as well as emotionally.


While maintaining a personal life and caring for her family, Walters forged a path for professional women.  She demonstrates how women can have it all and continues as an outstanding role model.



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