September 24, 2013
Genealogy Roadshow: Interesting Concept, Great Show
Last night's episode took place in the Belmont Mansion in Nashville Tennessee. If you've ever watched Antiques Roadshow you will have an idea how the show works. The participants submit their questions in advance and then take turns either sitting at a table with one of the two genealogists, Kenyatta Berry, president of the Association of Professional Genealogists (APG), and D. Joshua Taylor, president of the Federation of Genealogical Societies (FGS).
Their expertise rang through but they also showed us that they are both naturals in front of the camera. They were warm and friendly, which provided a relaxed informal atmosphere to the show. If you missed last night's episode, depending where you live, you can watch it online on PBS Videos
Warning: Spoiler Alert!
Participants vary. One was a man who had a photograph of a black man and a small white boy. They were identified on the back as "Uncle Fayte" and ( I forget the little boy's name but the owner of the photo knew who he was). The man's question was who was this "Uncle Fayte" and how was he connected to the family. This was actually my favourite segment in the show. The photo was very poignant as the little boy seemed so happy in the man's arms, and the man himself had a lovely half-smile on his face - very unusual for such early photographs. A lovely surprise awaited the gentleman who owned the photo as the research team not only found out who Uncle Fayte was, they tracked down a living 3rd great grand-daughter and brought her to the show.
Another was a woman whose family lore was that they were related to George Washington. A very touching segment involved a young woman who had never met her father. The behind-the-scenes research team had not only found photographs of him from childhood to adulthood, they found his sister and a living niece. She was brought to the show as a surprise to the young woman, and presented her with a lovely scrapbook of photographs about her father.
Some of the participants were disappointed to learn that they were not related to a famous person. Family lore was shot down but kudos to the show's producers for allowing this! It's refreshing to see a show that is "real" in the sense that often our family lore is incorrect, or mixed up, and beginning genealogists especially need to realize that they may find facts they don't like as they continue their research.
To nitpick, I wasn't sure I liked the "audience" standing around the table watching and applauding while Josh or Kenyatta spoke to the participants. And I definitely did not like the music! But those are two very minor complaints.
All in all, it was entertaining and informative and I will definitely be watching next week's episode. The show airs on PBS at 9 p.m. Eastern.