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Saturday, February 19, 2011

"WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE?" :ROSIE O'DONNELL

The third episode of WDYTYA was the best so far this season and has
replaced the Vanessa Williams installment as my all time favorite in the series.
Rosie's mother died when Rosie was a child so a lot of information about
that side of the family tree was missing so that was what she focused her search
on. It was a great display of solid research techniques such as starting what
records you already have, what information another family member might have,
and in Rosies's case, a mysterious photograph. With the usual assistance
along the way, she made use of census records, newspaper articles, church
records and obituaries. Rosie took notes and seemed quite comfortable operating
microfilm machines when necessary.

I especially liked that Rosie and the viewers were made aware of multiple
spelling s of names. In her case, the further back she went, her maternal Murtha
line became Murtaugh.It was also nice to see them show how investigating
a collateral line can be just as engrossing and emotional as your direct line.

Rosie's search took her from Brooklyn to Montreal and finally to a poor house
in County Kildare Ireland. Her discoveries touched her emotions and in the
end changed her outlook on her own life.


There were three things Rosie said that rang very true to me. The first was her
remark was that "This isn't going to be as easy as it looks on tv!" Nope, it never is,
Rosie!


The second was a statement to the effect that we Irish Catholics don't like to
talk much about the sad things in our lives. I saw this in my own family in the
way my Mom would rarely say anything about her father who hadn't kept in
touch with his children after he and my grandmother Aggie divorced.

The third was after she toured the poorhouse. Rosie was visibly shaken and
in tears at one point speaking about the horrible conditions her ancestors had
endured there.Then she looked at the cameraman and said "Now get me the
hell out of here!" It was so much like something my Mom would have said.

All in all, an excellent episode . I hope Rosie keeps on with researching the
rest of her family history, because as many of us geneabloggers can tell her
there are many other stories out there waiting to be discovered.

5 comments:

Wendy said...

I definitely agree with you. This episode was the best and most interesting by far this season, and completely engrossing. It was fascinating to learn more about the potato famine, and what I saw on this episode may help me with my research in Ireland.

John G. West said...

This was a great episode... and as Bill says Rosie made some great statements. The ending was kind of neat when Rosie & her brother walked into the Murtaugh Corner pub! I was impressed that Rosie actually went through a microfilm of the census instead of using Ancestry.com (nothing against using the internet)... it showed viewers that this stuff exists outside of the computer. Instead of everything being on the internet, Rosie went to where these documents exist and I suspect do not exist on the internet. I have liked all of them, so far, in both seasons. These are the success stories. In real life, not all of our research is successful, but a lot is!!!

Carol said...

I also agree, the best show so far. I think the writers have finally figured out we want to see the research thoughts/process/techniques too. The parts that Rosie read, explaining the action, the best written so far, THE BEST!!! This show finally appealed to the researcher in me, not just the historian. Show proved that you can appeal to both at the same time.

Ancestry would do well to give those writers a bonus and let them do ALL the rest of the shows!

DianaR said...

I just finished watching this episode online as I was out last night. I couldn't agree more!! You touched on one of my favorite parts of this episode - that she was so interested and spent time researching a collateral line. I loved the fact that she was finally able to identify the picture.

Colleen Degnan Johnson said...

I did love it. The same things rang true to me. However, I'm blown away that she wasn't aware or never heard about the Poor Law or the workhouses. O'Donnell is Irish too. She did luck out with finding Kildare mentioned in the Canadian records. Great blog Bill.