Genealogy in the Mainstream

Last night brought us the conclusion of Genealogy Roadshow on PBS. We were excited to have the four episodes based in Detroit, San Francisco, Austin and Nashville. Though, I personally wished they had come to Chicago, I was just happy to see that genealogy is staying in the mainstream with another television series. The fall line up started with Who Do You Think You Are and will end with African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross (Starts Oct. 22 on PBS). Really, what more can we ask for. Three different series this season all based on genealogy.

While I like to offer an opinion here or there, I have not really had much to say about Genealogy Roadshow. Not because I did not like it, more because its season one and we don’t know where it will go. Many stories are covered in each episode that is fast paced. I believe the people behind the show tried to bring the general public a little bit of everything in the short time frame they had.

Some of the segments seemed forced and maybe a bit displaced. In the first three episodes, each segment on DNA testing really were lacking. One episode they had the results for an autosomal DNA test that advised the gentleman was about 94% African-American and about 6% European. For me, that really was a no brainer. There was a reason this man submitted to this test and hopefully he got the answer he was looking for. I would have liked to know why he wanted this test. But, this was not the only instance. There was one for the next two episodes as well.

Last night, I feel that the best segment (for the season) on DNA was with the lady who was looking into her family’s story that they might be Jewish. From the DNA test, they were able to tell her that yes her family does have Jewish ancestry. The test answered her question and we got to see it play out.

Now don’t get me wrong, I liked the series. I just think that most of the DNA segments needed some help.

As for the stories. I truly enjoyed how in each episode they would give a bit of history with the questions that were asked. Watching the faces of each person find out the truth behind their families stories is powerful. Hopefully, this series was able to move more people into looking into their families history and leave them wanting more information on the generations before them.

As avid genealogists we must not look for the research behind each of these series (because we know it happens and that it takes a long time). Yes, it would be great to see at the end of each family segment (on any show) a blurb about this story took so many hours of research by so many people). But, I am ok with it just how it is. I beg each show provider (TLC and PBS) to please keep these shows on the air. We need more genealogy and less crazy reality shows, lets educate the public and not fill the viewers heads with needless information.



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