Shaking the Family Tree


"I was looking for Jacksons--my Jacksons--among an ocean of people who shared my name but not my DNA." - Buzzy Jackson, Chapter One

Shaking the Family Tree is one part family memoir, one part investigation into the remarkable world of obsessed genealogists, and one part How-To manual for constructing a family tree.

Join Buzzy in her journey as she makes contact with long-lost relatives, fact-checks those old family legends, and gets cozy with the growing American subculture of amateur genealogy.

Praise for Shaking the Family Tree:

“This is a delightful book -- fun to read, but educational. Much recommended for anyone who has considered searching for their ancestors (or loves someone who does so). Jackson is so friendly, her outlook so generous -- from a cruise ship in the Caribbean to a forgotten graveyard in Alabama to a crowded library in Salt Lake City -- she is the perfect companion for this adventurous trip into the world of genealogy.” Karen Joy Fowler, New York Times bestselling author of The Jane Austen Book Club

“There are many books that will tell you how to trace your ancestors, but almost none that tell you what it actually feels like to do it. Buzzy Jackson captures perfectly the mixture of frustration, astonishment and delight all genealogists feel, and does it with humor, good grace and great narrative skill. Her book is indispensable for anyone thinking of researching their own family, and for anyone wondering what makes family historians tick.”

John Grenham, author of Tracing Your Irish Ancestors

“Part Gen-X guide to genealogy, part rollicking road trip for roots - complete with somebody named Cousin Mooner - Buzzy Jackson's book is funny, illuminating and profound. If your idea of genealogy is grandpa hunched over that tattered ancestral chart he keeps in the back of his suspenders drawer, think again.”

Ariel Sabar, National Book Critics' Circle Award winner for My Father's Paradise

"Shaking the Family Tree will be a tonic for those who already know at least something about their ancestry, and an inspiration to those who don't.”

John Titford, Trustee and Chairan of Examiners, Institute of Heraldic and Genealogical Studies, Fellow of the Society of Genealogists of London

“Buzzy Jackson’s engaging story delights the reader . . . With skepticism, a dose of humor and enthusiasm she discovers the lure of genealogy and more importantly she discovers her own family history. Buzzy Jackson captures the passion that is shared by millions of Americans who seek to know their family histories.”

Sandra M. Hewlett, Councilor for the New England Historical Genealogical Society