Tuesday, March 30, 2010

TV: Who Do You Think You Are?

Ancestry.com has been heavily supporting? pushing? advertising? a new TV show on NBC called Who Do You Think You Are? The show, produced by Lisa Kudrow and an adaptation of a British show, lets us in on the ancestry of some famous people as said famous people look into their background with the help of Ancestry.com and lots of money. I've watched 4 Friday night episodes of the 7 NBC has slated. The celebrities actually visit the places their ancestors lived and died during the research process. They marvel over their discoveries and talk about how they've changed or grown as a result.

It may sound like I don't like the show (maybe it's just the sarcastic sounding voice in my head when I reread my post), but that's not the case. I guess you could say I'm just a little jealous. I'm the genealogist in my family. Either the members of my family aren't interested or they're dead. I find my ancestors fascinating and have made real connections between their lives and the history of this country that I never would have connected to otherwise (because remembering my history classes is torture).

Through census records and visits to libraries around my hometown, I've found out that my paternal great great grandmother was from Ireland, coming to America during the Potato Famine. My paternal great great grandfather has a building named after him at one of our many great higher learning institutions. My maternal great grandmother married a man ~40 years her senior when she was in her early twenties. What I wouldn't give to travel all over the U.S. and find more links to my ancestors. At the moment, many of my trails are dead ends.

So I watch, hoping that I might get a sliver of information from the celebrities' searches that could help me with my own. And as I watch I try not to wish I had a boatload of money to do what they can. If you were ever thinking about looking into your ancestors, this is the show to get you motivated. If you were already looking... well, you can sit in on my pity party.


Cheryl Clarke said...

you know i heard about that show but never paid attention to when it airs. maybe i can catch it on hulu or something.

i only know my ancestry through some old stories my mother tells during holiday get togethers. it would be nice to know more, but i don't have lisa kudrow money.

great that you found out so much about your family!


PurpleNepenthe said...

Thanks, I love looking up my genealogy.

With a good connection, you can watch it online here
I would recommend Emmett Smith for your first episode followed by Sarah Jessica Parker.

An ancestry.com subscription for just U.S. runs about $200 I think. Since I'm already on it I can't see how much a regular subscription is.

If you ever get serious about it, start with family members' names, locations, and birthdays on or before 1930. Census info for 1940 doesn't come out until 2012. And you can look this stuff up at any Mormon church that has Internet. The one in my area just makes me sign in and pay for copies. You don't need to be a member.☼

Jo said...

Great show...I started with Emmett Smith, but need to go back and catch Sarah Jessica Parker's story. I loved that Lisa Kudro found a family member alive and that Brooke made the connection as to why she's always felt at home in France.

Take Purple's advice on where to start. My mom does our family history and when she gets stuck Purple, she tries to make a trip to the location where her trail runs cold, or calls the local jurisdiction and asks about their records. Her latest find was from a cousin who discovered one of their relatives that took the Oregon trail West and happened to end up being buried in a small cemetary not far from my brothers. When her distant cousin e-mailed her to tell her about it, she was able to tell him that she was at my brother's only a few miles away and went to take a picture of the grave stone to send to him. It's nice when you can link up with a distance relative and all work together to put some pieces together.