Saturday, February 5, 2011

A few quick thoughts about last night's "Who Do You Think You Are?" episode

* Long Island shout-out! Vanessa Williams' father was from Oyster Bay, about a 25 minute drive from me. That whole area is dotted with tiny, old cemeteries like the one her father is buried in.

* Didn't cry for the first 20 minutes or so but did finally break down, so my record remains intact...awesome!

* The National Archives, where she went for her great great grandfather's Civil War records, is where I went for my 4th great grandfather Charles Haase's Civil War records - they are a great resource for military records. Vanessa Williams was lucky to find so much information in her relative's file.

* It was interesting to see how each generation of her family was integrated white, African-American, mulatto. It was have been hard for them in post-Civil War America and early 20th century America but it was interesting to see that being color-blind was a sensibility passed down through the family.

* Watching this show again reiterated for me the need to do more field trips and field work...I do some, like visiting cemeteries, but I don't do enough non-computer based research, which I think means I'm missing some research opportunities.

* It also reiterated that when I need help, I should ask for help. If I don't know the answer, someone else might. For example - now that I have a date and place of death for my 3rd great grandfather John Ricklefs, why haven't I gone to the Patchogue village or Brookhaven town clerk/historian/archivist to get a copy of his death certificate and find where he's buried?

* I think I really lost it in this episode when Vanessa was saying how researching her father's family made her feel close to her father, how reading the story of one of her ancestors was like reading a story about her father, that they both stood for the same things and were the same kind of man. I think that's absolutely one of the best parts of genealogy, is how it can bring us closer to not only our ancestors but our immediate loved ones, those who are still here and those who are gone.

* Love that in the end she did the second most important thing you can do besides researching your family tree - pass it on to your family, most notably the next generation!!

So, so glad this show is back! :)


  1. That is funny about crying. My husband was in another room working on his computer when he said: "What are you watching? It sounds so sad."
    I just laughed.
    Theresa (Tangled Trees)

  2. I think it's partly the fault of the music they use - the producers/editors *want* you to cry, and I am nothing if not a sucker for family history discoveries accompanied by emotional musical cues! :)

  3. Yes - and our brain is wired to react to music...and here I am trying to suck it up. :-)