Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Continuing The Debate: Genealogy Roadshow Returns


A couple of months ago I posted a blog about the preferences that many of us have for Finding Your Roots or Who Do You Think You Are? This lead to a tremendous discussion on LinkedIn (in a few groups) about the pros and cons of each and, in many instances, what is missing from each show. Keep in in mind that all of those who participated in this back and forth have been researching their own family history and so many of the sticking points surrounded the lack of process demonstrated in each program.

Another prevalent point made was of the disconnect from those of us actually doing the work. Many of the participants in each of these shows are, for the most part, along for the ride without actually doing the work themselves. We all know the hours, days, weeks, years that this journey takes to make the kind of progress depicted in a 60 minute program. So the back and forth continued regarding these two current programs with a few references made to other shows that were no longer on the air.

One show that was brought up for both its positive qualities and because of the things that it lacks was Genealogy Roadshow. Many of us had seen the program when it was on but many others completely missed it and wondered what it was about. We didn’t discuss it much further than that because, at the time, it was not currently showing and none of us expected to see it return to PBS. Honestly, the conversation continued and I once again completely forgot about the short lived series until a few weeks ago when I got a press release in my email.

Simply put, Genealogy Roadshow is back! New episodes will be airing on PBS beginning on Tuesday, January 13 at 8:00pm ET. In the end, all genealogy shows are going to have faults but the important thing is that they are on the television and people are slowly becoming exposed to the importance of knowing who they are and where they come from. While I am sure there will be continued debate on this subject, for now I will simply leave you with the episode descriptions for each of the six episodes that will air this winter:

New Orleans – Cabildo (January 13th) – A team of genealogists uncovers fascinating family stories at the famous Cabildo, home of the Louisiana State Museum. A couple whose ancestors hail from the same small Italian town explore the chance they may be related; a woman is desperate to find out who committed a gruesome murder in her ancestor’s past; a home held by one family for more than a century renders a fascinating story; and a woman discovers the difficult journey her ancestor took on the path to freedom from slavery.

St. Louis – Central Library (January 20th) – At Saint Louis’ historic central library, a team of genealogists uncovers fascinating family stories from Missouri’s famous gateway city. A mystery writer discovers her mother has hidden a life-changing secret; a woman finds out if she is descended from the infamous pirate Blackbeard; a mother and daughter seek connections to a famous author; and a young man seeks connection to the Mali tribe in Africa.

Philadelphia – Franklin Institute (January 27th) – At Philadelphia’s Franklin Institute, a team of genealogists uncovers fascinating family histories. A man learns that the event that drove his family to the City of Brotherly Love changed the course of history; a man may be a Viking descendant; another’s family could have part of one of history’s biggest scams; a young man hopes to confirm his relation to a signer of the Declaration of Independence; and two sisters learn their ancestors were part of the great Irish migration.

New Orleans – Board of Trade (February 3rd) – A team of genealogists uncovers fascinating family stories at the New Orleans Board of Trade. A local man seeks to recover essential history washed away in Hurricane Katrina; a woman discovers she has links to both sides of the Civil War; another unravels the mystery behind her grandfather’s adoption; and one man explores a link to the famous New Orleans Voodoo Queen, Marie Laveau.

St. Louis – Union Station (February 10th) – At St. Louis’ historic Union Station, a team of genealogists uncovers fascinating family stories from Missouri. A musician hopes to find connections to a famous St. Louis jazz composer; two sisters explore links to a survivor of the legendary Donner party; an Italian-American woman finds out if she is related to Italian royalty; and a schoolteacher who has all the answers for her students has very few about her own past.

Philadelphia – Historical Society of Pennsylvania (February 17th) – A team of genealogists uncovers fascinating family histories at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania. One woman’s ancestor may have sparked historic labor laws; a pastor may have an outlaw in her family tree; a woman learns about slave genealogy and, with the help of DNA testing, gets the answer she has waited for; and another woman learns her ancestor may have helped others escape the Holocaust.