Friday, March 05, 2010

How Do I Find My Ancestors?

You may be asking yourself, "How do I find my ancestors?" after viewing the compelling new TV show, Who Do You Think You Are?.   The TV show tells the stories of the family history of celebrities, and unearths connections to the California Gold Rush, Salem witch trials, slave auctions, the Civil War, and other unique slices of American history. 

This show personalizes the family history of celebrities and turns it into a gripping narrative entwined with the history of the country.  The celebrities reflect who we all are -  a microcosm of the United States multi-ethnicity.  All families have a unique story, not just celebrities.  After all, before they were celebrities, they were regular people from regular families.

If you are interested in tracing your own family tree and discovering your own unique family story, it's easy to get started.  Begin with yourself and work backwards as they do in the TV show.

Start your private family tree online to enter what you already know about yourself, your parents, your grandparents, and as far back as you know.  Invite your parents, grandparents, siblings, cousins and other family members to contribute what they know to add to your online tree - fill in names and dates, tell stories and upload photos. will use what you enter to try and find more about your family in the world's largest online collection of historical records and family trees.

Talk to the older people in your family.  You may be surprised what they know but never talked about because they thought no one was interested.  Here are some suggested questions to ask them to get the ball rolling.

After these first steps, learn the additional steps for building your family tree at the  Learning Center. And here are further resources for how to begin your genealogy search.

Your family story is waiting to be found.   "To know who you are you, you have to know where you came from."  Your journey can be as exciting, as emotional, and as surprising as the stories on the TV show because it is your personal family history.  The excitement and surprises happen as you uncover that story

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Who Do You Think You Are? success in the UK

The idea for the new US television show on NBC Who Do You Think You Are? originated from a phenomenally successful show in the UK, which has traced the roots of over 50 celebrities in the last 6 years. During the last season, more than 5 million viewers tuned in to watch the UK show. 

Nearly 12,000 Brits attended the Who Do You Think You Are? Live conference in February 2009. Of those, 84 percent say they started researching their family history since 2004 when the show began.  The show has generated a surge of family history interest in the UK and, hopefully, the U.S. version of Who Do You Think You Are? will result in the same enthusiasm.

I'll be watching Friday night.  Let's hope the show will become as popular in the US as it is in the UK

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

"Who Do You Think You Are?" Episode Schedule

Update: NBC has renewed Who Do You Think You Are for 2010/2011.  They also announced a new schedule for the remainder of this season: 

  • April 9: Sarah Jessica Parker (Repeat) 
  • April 16: No episode 
  • April 23: Susan Sarandon 
  • April 30: Spike Lee


Here is the current schedule for the Who Do You Think You Are? episodes according to NBC:
  • March 5 - Sarah Jessica Parker
  • March 12 - Emmitt Smith
  • March 19 - Lisa Kudrow  
  • March 26 - Matthew Broderick
  • April 2 - Brooke Shields
  • April 9 - Susan Sarandon  
  • April 23 - Spike Lee  
Who Do You Think You Are? in the News

  In the coming weeks, Who Do You Think You Are? is going to be spotlighted in several major media outlets. Among them, Oprah will designate an entire hour to family history next Tuesday!

Here's a list of a few shows to watch for (all dates/times are subject to change):

  • Wednesday, March 3
    • Today Show (NBC) 8-9 am
    • The View (ABC - check your local TV listings)
    • The Joy Behar Show (HLN - Headline News) 9 pm ET
  • Friday, March 5
    • Today Show (NBC) 10-11 am
  • Monday, March 8
    • Martha Stewart (check your local TV listings)
  • Tuesday, March 9
    • Oprah (check your local TV listings)
    • Craig Ferguson (CBS late night)
  • Friday, March 19
    • Bonnie Hunt (check your local TV listings)

Tune into NBC this Friday night, March 5th at 8/7c to find out how Sarah Jessica Parker is connected to the Salem Witch Trials.  Was her ancestor an accused or an accuser?  We'll find out on Friday.