Look for another outbreak of “roots mania” to sweep the nation this spring. Public television, which helped spark the current genealogy boom with its “Ancestors” series in 1997, will be airing an 11-episode sequel in April. But this time, the series will go far beyond just TV.
The original “Ancestors,” produced by KBYU-TV in Salt Lake City, broke records for the number of PBS stations carrying a program or series.
“The feedback was positive,” says Marcy Brown, producer of the first series and executive producer of “Ancestors II,” adding, “One thing that came out of it was that people wanted more instruction, and we did that this time around.”
This time, Brown says, the programs will be part of a multimedia package focused on learning genealogical techniques. A Web site, online courses, instructional videos, printed guidebooks and a teachers’ guide will accompany the TV shows.
“Now the stories and instruction are woven together,” Brown says. “This series will be more instructional; the first series was motivational.”
The goal of this multimedia approach will be to teach the five-step research method taught by the Family History Library in Salt Lake City:
- Gather what you know.
- Set an objective.
- Identify a record group.
- Locate and search that record group.
- Record and share the information.
Then “Ancestors II” will show how to apply these methods to genealogical records.
The series will open with an hour-long, prime-time special and then be followed with 10 half-hour episodes. The focus will be on genealogical records and how to use them, including land and probate records, military records, religious records and census records.
“The strongest thing about the new ‘Ancestors’ is the intent to target a very broad audience,” Brown says. “Technology has made huge advances. People can access information about their families in ways never known before.” But the series will also teach these techniques in other media so people who “aren’t comfortable using a computer for everything in their lives” can still succeed at genealogical research.
While there’s no funding yet for more programs beyond “Ancestors II,” the series is being produced so that KBYU could continue making episodes.
Work on “Ancestors II” began in fall 1998. The host will be Scott Wilkinson, a local actor. More information can be found on the KBYU Ancestors’ site on the Web at <ww.kbyu.org/ancestors/>. See local listings for broadcast dates and times.
From the April 2000 issue of Family Tree Magazine