Learning from Who do you think you are (US)

Submitted by ian on Sun, 02/27/2011 - 10:24

One of the shows that I like to watch if I get the chance is the American version of “Who do you think you are”.  It’s a show that traces the family history of the subject of the episode.  The American Version of the show to date has focused on celebrities, and the subject of this week’s episode was the actress Kim Cattrall (Samantha from Sex and the City).

Not that I follow Sex and the City at all, but I was unaware that Kim is not an American, rather she was born in England.  The show indicated that her mother’s father had left his family while the children were young, and very little was known about Kim’s grandfather.  The entire episode was spent looking for information on Kim’s grandfather.


For me it was refreshing to see the episode showing that sometimes it takes a lot of time and work to get past some individuals.  It taught us that despite what we see on TV with the Ancestry.com commercials, sometimes Genealogy is not a fast "click on the leaf" and get all the answers kind of deal.  Watching this weeks episode of who do you think you are featuring Kim Cattrall was refreshing.  


The episode showed some of the classic techniques that can be used to get past "brick Walls".  One of the techniques that was used to some success involved switching to a different person in the family.  Often if you can not find information about a specific person in the family, if you shift your focus to someone else in the family, like a spouse, brother, or in-laws, you may have some success in getting around your brick wall.  The show used this technique and switched to tracking down some in-laws, who where then able to provide the final clues needed in tracking down Kim’s grandfather.


I thought that it was a pretty good episode, even if they did not go back more than 2 generations.  Sometimes (lets face it, a lot of the time) genealogy is a slow process, with no “leaf” to click on to get the answers.


If you have not watched the show, I would suggest that you give it a shot.  It’s on Friday nights around 8:00.