Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Did You Watch Genealogy Roadshow?

Genealogy Roadshow placard, photo by K. Hogan, July 2013.

Last night, PBS premiered its new genealogy television series, Genealogy Roadshow. I had the pleasure of watching it. I think the show is a blend of Antiques Roadshow, History Detectives and a little bit of Who Do You Think You Are?  Fast-paced, Genealogy Roadshow covers at least six different segments in each episode. The first episode was in Nashville, focusing on the history and people of the music city and its surroundings.

Kenyatta Berry, President of the Association of Genealogical Professionals, and D. Joshua Taylor, President of the Federation of Genealogical Societies are the presenters. The producers of GRS were spot-on choosing Kenyatta and Josh. Both are professional, personable and knowledgeable.

There are a number of things I liked about the show. Firstly, I liked that the guests were ordinary people, just like you and me. Further, like many of us with stories of famous ancestors, some of the guests learned their family stories were just that - stories.  It was disappointing for some of them to learn their family history provided no evidence to prove their relationship to famous people. Nonetheless, each guest did learn something new about their ancestry.

Secondly, I liked how the research was presented to the guests. Records were displayed on a large screen. Either Kenyatta or Josh explained what was found and the details of the guest's ancestor or relative. Great connections were made. Some guests learned they were related to famous people; others learned the important roles their ancestors played in the American Revolutionary War, Civil War or other aspects of American history.

Thirdly, I liked the historical background which was presented about Davy Crockett, Governor Peas, Jesse James and William Anderson "Devil Anse" Hatfield. It helped put the guests' ancestors into historical perspective. The historians and genealogists who worked behind the scenes researching and collecting this information did a fine job.

Now, I did have a problem with the Davy Crockett segment.  When Josh  presented the guest with the information about his particular line of the Crockett family, he stated that the guest was probably related to Davy Crockett. Probably is not the same thing as definitely. And yet, when interviewed by the host, Emmett Miller, he said he was related to Davy Crockett. I would have liked to have heard the guest was going to pursue more research instead of taking that leap of faith.

Overall, the first episode of Genealogy Roadshow was terrific! If you missed it, it is now available online at http://video.pbs.org/video/2365079236/

Next week's episode is in Detroit. You won't want to miss it!

Copyright by Kathryn Lake Hogan, 2013.