Friday, March 5, 2010


If you by chance happen to be on Facebook, and if by chance you happen to have the same friend list as I have, you might by chance be wondering what all the WDYTYA'ing is all about. Unless, of course, you happen to know that tonight was NBC's debut of their series, Who Do You Think You Are?, a documentary walking celebrities through their family trees.  Tonight's debut episode featured Sarah Jessica Parker. Did you watch the show? If so, tell me what you thought.

I enjoyed this show much more than the PBS series, Faces of America if for one reason only: WDYTYA spent the entire episode on one person, whereas Faces of America bounces back and forth between several people in one episode. WDYTYA was much easier for me to follow.  To be fair, though, I only saw 2 of the Faces of America shows.

Thomas at Destination: Austin Family posted his thoughts very succinctly on his blog. I shared many of his thoughts, so I won't repeat them all here. But I will repeat one thing that struck me as well as Thomas:  The lack of narrative or explanation as to what goes into high-quality genealogical research.

I realize it was only an hour-long show and that they wanted to relay the story as it unfolded as opposed to how it unfolded, but just a quick statement here and there about the importance of the research process would have gone a long way.  I hope this doesn't sound cruel, because I really enjoyed the show and can't wait for the next episode, but I think it was a bit irresponsible not to bring up the process by which the researchers determined that the John S. Hodge in the 1850 Census record was the John S. Hodge Sarah Jessica Parker wanted to find. I suspect this show, as well as Faces of America, will bring new enthusiasts to the world of genealogy and it's important that we teach the beginners how to analyze data right from the start.  To do otherwise is akin to encouraging people to assume relationships based only on shared names on a historical document.

And we all know what happens when we assume things. 

All the same, I enjoyed the show, can't wait for the next one, and recommend it to any genealogy enthusiast.


Alexisnexus said...

Brooke Shields on Who Do you Think you Are


My favorite quote from this episode was when Brooke said “Being able to find your place in the grand scheme of things, there’s something empowering about it.”

Waiting for the next episode.

Colleen said...

Alexis: I agree, I liked that statement too!