What I'm doing instead of packing

Have you seen that show "Who Do You Think You Are?" on NBC? I am RIVETED. I love it. It's a sort of random assortment of celebrities, and each week one of them researches their family history. Whether I like the celebrity or not, the show itself is fascinating. I'm a geek. Whatever.

First the celebrity starts with their own family and gets a few names. Usually no farther back than a great-grandparent. Then they head off to whatever location they know for those names. They have the help of genealogists and historians. That's what I think makes the show so interesting. They incorporate historical reference (geek. I already said that.). It's one thing to look down a line of names, but it's so much more interesting when there's an expert who can explain what those things meant at the time. For example, Emmit Smith got a name of an ancestor, but the historian was able to tell him that her last name indicated that although she was a slave, she was the daughter of the slave trader.

One thing that's amazed me watching the show, is how few generations most people have been able to go back on their own. I come from a long line of genealogy nuts. So I've already got a lot of that information, and I'm really thankful for that. I already know that I could be a legit Daughter of the American Revolution twice over. I know I'm a descendant of Lucy Stone, the first woman in the United States to keep her surname after marriage and the woman credited with getting Susan B. Anthony involved in the women's movement. We have a diary of an ancestor from the civil war. I've got a binder of family tree information with people as far back as at least the 1600s (I can't verify because it's packed - good for me!).

The other thing that makes it fun to watch, is the celebrity gets to visit the places involved. Lisa Kudrow traveled to Belarus to see the place where her great-grandmother was killed by Nazis. I've always been kind of a history nerd, and you can see how much of an impact it has on them to visit the locations. It becomes less of a story and more real. There's something to walking the literal paths your ancestors walked.

It's definitely made me want to escape my real life of needing to work and pack, and dive into some sort of family history journey. I wonder if I'll still find it as interesting when I'm not supposed to be doing other things.


Scotsman said...

I haven't seen the NBC show but I have seen the BBC version from the past few years. The UK version probably is a little different from the show in the US in that the UK has had less immigration over the years and more emigration. But it still makes for a fascinating viewing experience. Its amazing how just going back a few generations we are so interconnected.

gretchen said...

I'm totally with you! It's my new favorite show. So fascinating. I cried throughout the Lisa Kudrow one. Don't you want to get that DNA testing thing that Emmitt Smith got? I actually looked into it and it costs $150. Not bad. A while back, I obsessed over Ancestry.com for a while, but I'm not really sure how accurate the info is after you go back a few generations. Pretty damned fascinating though.

Now...go pack.

andy (Your Life, Organized) said...

I have been recording this show but haven't had a chance to sit and watch one! You have me so excited about it! Can't wait!
I love family history and need to find out more about mine. I love to scrapbook to help tell our story for years to come.

Also the company I have been working for helps me to keep my day to day stuff organized so it is easier to put on our family blog, send a family letter or scrapbook it! :-) www.aboutone.com

Go get your packing done.......... like i am one to talk I have lots to unpack as we just moved!

Beck said...

I like that show so much.
I know everything about my family for GENERATIONS EXCEPT for my father's grandmother - a women he KNEW! Our knowledge of her stops THERE. And I find this haunting.

gretchen said...

Hey honey, there's an award for you on my blog today! Go by and grab it.

Tor said...

so i've finally decided to try your blog again and hope that it doesn't crash my computer! it didn't! yay! i've got a lot of catching up to do.

i LOVE this show!! love it. i recorded the first episode just to see. i was hooked. how cool that they all have such great stories. it makes me wonder if they didn't cast a wide net amongst celebrities and do the research, then only invite the ones with good stories to air. i don't care, it's great.

and is it wrong of me to be looking forward to the one with spike lee, knowing that he will find out he has white ancestors? (at least according to the emmitt smith one...) it's just some poetic justice, i think. not in a mean way.

Tor said...

oh ps...it got me excited about genealogy as well, and, like you, family is finished. my grandma did LOADS of research and published it into a book going back to the 1600's. i don't think i have as many cool ancestors as you and i'm disappointed that it's already been done!