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.
Here, we share six common genealogy myths you’ll want to avoid as you trace your family tree.
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.