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Did you watch “Genealogy
Roadshow” on PBS last night?
It’s easy to see the “Antiques Roadshow” styling: “Genealogy Roadshow” had the lines
of people waiting to get in, the onlookers watching the expert consultations, a host,
a break to take in a few minutes of local history (of the Belmont
Mansion, where the episode was filmed), and the guests’ surprised expressions.
I loved how the audience members leaned in to hear what genealogists D. Joshua Taylor
and Kenyatta Berry had to say about the guests’ family claims.
I loved how twice, another person related to the story emerged from the audience to
meet the surprised guest.
And I loved how Taylor and Berry quickly dismissed several common family claims, such
as being related to Davy Crockett, George Washington (who had
no known descendants) or Jimmy Carter. They always offered a bright side: The
husband of the woman who wasn’t related to Davy Crockett had a Revolutionary War ancestor,
for example, making their children eligible for membership in the Daughters
of the American Revolution.
we share six common genealogy myths you’ll want to avoid as you trace your family
A couple of wishes regarding “Genealogy Roadshow”:
The show was fast-paced, so there were times I wanted more and slower visual aids
to explain the connections researchers had uncovered. We saw family trees in some
cases, but the show zoomed through them pretty quickly.
I wished to spend more time on some stories. An African-American woman learned from
a letter discovered at an archive that she really is related to white Tennessee governor
Austin Peay. But who wrote the letter, and why?
And I just wanted to hear more about the African-American family who learned their
enslaved ancestor, Dinah Bell, was brought from South Carolina to Tennessee. A dozen
or so family members of all ages were hanging on Taylor’s every word, and you could
see how much the information meant to them.
That story; the one about the tender photo of Lafayette Cox, an African-American man,
holding the little boy of the family he worked for; and the story of Sarah Jones,
a young woman who had never met her father, were my favorites.
I can’t wait to see next week’s show, set in Detroit!
Do your own genealogy detective work to sort out family stories with help from Family
History Detective: A Step-By-Step Guide to Tracing Your Family History and The
Family Tree Problem Solver: Tried and True Tactics for Tracing Elusive Ancestors.