Friday, September 27, 2013


One of the common critiques of the Who Do You Think You Are? program has
been the use of celebrities. I've often seen comments and posts from people
wishing that WDYTYA would do shows centered around "everyday" people.
Then last Spring PBS announced a new program, The Genealogy Roadshow,
that would do just that. It premiered Monday night.

The format is very much like its sister program The  Antiques Roadshow: there
are several longer segments involving interesting stories interspersed with
shorter segments.  Those longer segments included a few minutes of background
information on the historical figures  to whom people thought they might
be related, such as Davy Crockett and Jesse James.  Just as on Antiques Roadshow,
some theories were disproved and some were confirmed. Two experienced
genealogists, Kenyatta Berry and Joshua Taylor, did a great job of presenting
the evidence and conclusions reached by the show's researchers. Overall, I thought
the show was well done and enjoyable.

Not everyone in the online genealogy community agreed. Some complained there
were too many people covered and thought two or three cases for the hour would
be better. Others wanted more emphasis on showing the research process. And
others just plain out didn't like the whole format. I certainly didn't expect everyone
to like the show, so I wasn't surprised at most of the criticism, but there were a very few
whose remarks were over the line into nitpicking territory.

The Genealogy Roadshow
is a limited run series with three more episodes yet to air.
Whether it gets renewed or not for a second season depends on the ratings and the
reception by the general public.  So while some genealogists want less emphasis on
confirming famous relatives and more on research methods, it's important for us
to remember that the show's future depends on its appeal to that general audience.
They want to be entertained, not educated about every step in genealogical research.
 If the show does its job and entertains it will prompt some viewers to begin their own
research, and that's where the education will begin for them

I'm looking forward to the rest of the first season and hope there will be more to come
for The Genealogy Roadshow.

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