PBS’ Genealogy Roadshow Season 2 (USA) serves up pirate stories, heroes of the Holocaust and more–all in the context of tracking down everyday people’s family history! The season premieres Tuesday, January 13, 2015, at 8:00 p.m. ET and airs every Tuesday through February 24 (check local listings).
“Part detective story, part emotional journey, Genealogy Roadshow combines history and science to uncover fascinating stories of diverse Americans in and around St. Louis, Philadelphia and New Orleans,” says a PBS press release. “Each individual’s story links to a larger community (and in some cases, national) history, to become part of America’s rich cultural tapestry.”
The show’s new host is Mary Tedesco, a professional Italian genealogist whom you’ll get to meet in the upcoming January episode of The Genealogy Gems Podcast! Tune in here for more with Mary Tedesco and Genealogy Roadshow.
Here’s more from PBS on what Season 2 has in store: “Genealogy Roadshow stars genealogists Kenyatta D. Berry, Joshua Taylor and Mary Tedesco and features participants with unique claims and storylines, including a woman seeking to find out if she is descended from the infamous pirate Blackbeard; a pair of sisters exploring connections to a survivor of the legendary Donner party; a man hoping to recover essential family history that washed away in Hurricane Katrina; and a man learns that the event that drove his family to the City of Brotherly Love changed the course of history.
Over the course of the series, Berry, Taylor and Tedesco work with participants’ anecdotal clues, documents and family heirlooms to unite them with histories and people they never knew existed, as well as to reveal surprising turns and incredible histories….St. Louis, Philadelphia and New Orleans were chosen as representative of America’s fascinating crossroads of culture, diversity, industry and history, as well as for their deep pools of riveting stories. Genealogy Roadshow’s hosts and experts add color and context to the investigations, ensuring every artifact and every name becomes part of solving the mystery.”
Below are descriptions for all six episodes:
New Orleans – January 13, 2015 at 8:00 p.m.
A team of genealogists uncovers fascinating family stories at the famous Cabildo, home of the Louisiana State Museum. A couple whose ancestors hail from the same small Italian town explore the chance they may be related; a woman is desperate to find out who committed a gruesome murder in her ancestor’s past; a home held by one family for more than a century renders a fascinating story; and a woman discovers the difficult journey her ancestor took on the path to freedom from slavery.
St. Louis – January 20, 2015 at 8:00 p.m.
At Saint Louis’ historic central library, a team of genealogists uncovers fascinating family stories from Missouri’s famous gateway city. A mystery writer discovers her mother has hidden a life-changing secret; a woman finds out if she is descended from the infamous pirate Blackbeard; a mother and daughter seek connections to a famous author; and a young man seeks connection to the Mali tribe in Africa.
Philadelphia – January 27, 2015 at 8:00 p.m.
At Philadelphia’s Franklin Institute, a team of genealogists uncovers fascinating family histories. A man learns that the event that drove his family to the City of Brotherly Love changed the course of history; a man may be a Viking descendant; another’s family could have part of one of history’s biggest scams; a young man hopes to confirm his relation to a signer of the Declaration of Independence; and two sisters learn their ancestors were part of the great Irish migration.
New Orleans – February 3, 2015 at 8:00 p.m.
A team of genealogists uncovers fascinating family stories at the New Orleans Board of Trade. A local man seeks to recover essential history washed away in Hurricane Katrina; a woman discovers she has links to both sides of the Civil War; another unravels the mystery behind her grandfather’s adoption; and one man explores a link to the famous New Orleans Voodoo Queen, Marie Laveau.
St. Louis – February 10, 2015 at 8:00 p.m.
At St. Louis’ historic Union Station, a team of genealogists uncovers fascinating family stories from Missouri. A musician hopes to find connections to a famous St. Louis jazz composer; two sisters explore links to a survivor of the legendary Donner party; an Italian-American woman finds out if she is related to Italian royalty; and a schoolteacher who has all the answers for her students has very few about her own past.
Philadelphia – February 17, 2015 at 8:00 p.m.
A team of genealogists uncovers fascinating family histories at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania. One woman’s ancestor may have sparked historic labor laws; a pastor may have an outlaw in her family tree; a woman learns about slave genealogy and, with the help of DNA testing, gets the answer she has waited for; and another woman learns her ancestor may have helped others escape the Holocaust.
Tell us what you think of the episodes on our Facebook page!
This week’s episode of Who Do You Think You Are? features talented actress Rachel McAdams and her sister Kayleen. I caught a quick preview of it and it doesn’t disappoint! I won’t spoil it for you, but I’ll tell you that I especially love the “sister dynamic,” as they describe it. “We know different stories, we have different versions,” they say. Isn’t that the truth in all families?
I also love the story they discover about an ancestral servant in a grand home (you’ll love this if you’re a Downton Abbey fan!). Another peek into history unfolds their Canadian ancestors’ lives as British Loyalists during the Revolutionary War.
Here’s the description of this WDYTYA 2014 episode from TLC:
“Rachel McAdams and her younger sister Kayleen go on a journey together to unearth their maternal roots, since their mother knows so little about her history. First they follow the trail of their English grandfather’s family, and find an ancestor who sacrificed much of his personal freedom to support his wife and children. Then, while tracking their grandmother’s side, Rachel and Kayleen discover just how deeply connected they are to Canada and a pivotal moment in Canadian history.”
Airs August 6 at 9PM ET/PT on TLC. Tell us what you thought of the episode on our Facebook page after the show!
Have a family mystery that you need the experts to unravel? Get help from the team at Genealogy Roadshow! Season 2 is crossing the United States later this year and your story could be center stage!
Click for more information about Genealogy Roadshow casting in the following cities:
A PBS news release states:
“After participants are chosen, genealogy, history and DNA experts will use family heirlooms, letters, pictures, historical documents and other clues to hunt down more information. These experts will enlist the help of local historians to add color and context to the investigations, ensuring every artifact and every name becomes a clue in solving the mystery….Residents are invited and encouraged to submit their personal stories as ‘Genealogy Roadshow’ will unearth family and community secrets, reveal notable relatives and discover unexpected stories that connect the past to the present. Many answers will be revealed on camera before a local audience, in a historic building relevant to the cities – and the participants’ – histories.”
Listen to the Family History: Genealogy Made Easy podcast by Lisa Louise Cooke. It’s a great series for learning the research ropes and well as refreshing your skills.
Originally published 2009. Republished March 11, 2014
Download the Show Notes for this Episode
Welcome to this step-by-step series for beginning genealogists—and more experienced ones who want to brush up or learn something new. I first ran this series in 2008-2009. So many people have asked about it, I’m bringing it back in weekly segments.
Episode 22: Legend Seekers: A Genealogy TV Classic
Did you ever catch the PBS documentary Legend Seekers? It aired in 2009 and is now classic genealogy TV. Executive producer Ken Marks joins us on this episode of the podcast. He talks about the unique approach of this show for its time: the family history stories he brought to life were from everyday folks (not movie stars or rock stars) who have some very extraordinary stories in their family tree. Ken talks about the Lively Family Massacre in Illinois, which he recreates in the show, and how he went about helping the TV execs understand the mass appeal of the show.
Then Ken talks about the genealogical serendipity that he has his crew found themselves tapping into throughout the production. That’s something we can all relate to! So sit back and enjoy this sneak peek behind the scenes of a genealogy television classic.
Updates and Links
Legend Seekers: The Legend of the Lively Family Massacre was meant to be a pilot in a new series. The series didn’t pan out but the show was nominated for a regional Emmy award in the documentary category, received two Telly Awards (2008) and the Award of Superior Achievement from the Illinois State Historical Society, according to a press release posted at Eastman’s Online Genealogy Newsletter. Click here to watch Legend Seekers: The Legend of the Lively Family Massacre.
Other genealogy TV shows you might enjoy:
Finding Your Roots with Henry Louis Gates, Jr.
Genealogy Roadshow (stream episodes here)
Who Do You Think You Are?
The last post in this year’s series of genealogy gift ideas is all about FUN. Laugh and cry with these great entertainment options:
Family Tree: The Complete First Season (DVD)
This series is brilliantly funny! I loved it! It pokes a bit of fun at genealogists (so get ready to smile at yourself) while capturing what’s in the family historian’s heart. Anyone who loves family history (or has a quirky family or just likes good comedy) will really enjoy this series.
This genealogy-themed TV show isn’t a research-the-celebrity format. In fact, the fiction of it makes it even more fun. Here’s a plot summary:”Written and created by Christopher Guest, Family Tree is a documentary-style comedy series conceived and produced in the manner of Guest’s feature films. The story revolves around the journey of the 30-year-old Tom Chadwick (Chris O’Dowd), an Englishman in his 30s who has few roots, little family, and a somewhat unsure sense of his purpose in life. Having recently lost his job and girlfriend, Tom inherits a mysterious box of belongings from a great-aunt he never met, triggering a passion to investigate his family lineage. As Tom’s interest in genealogy grows, his life expands and evolves in unexpected directions, as he uncovers a world of unusual stories and characters in the U.K. and the U.S., as well a growing sense of who he is and who his real family are.”
Sweet Land: A Love Story (DVD)
This film has a great story of love and immigration in the early 20th century. I had the director on the podcast previously (Episode 30).
Here’s the plot summary: “Inge (Elizabeth Reaser) is a feisty German mail-order bride who has come to Minnesota to marry Olaf (Tim Guinee), a young Norwegian immigrant farmer of few words. But in a post-WWI, anti-German climate, the local minister (John Heard) openly forbids the marriage. Inge and Olaf fall in love despite the town’s disapproval. But when the town banker (Ned Beatty) attempts to foreclose on the farm of his friend Frandsen (Alan Cumming), Olaf takes a stand…and the community unites around the young couple, finally accepting Inge as one of their own.”
Family Name (DVD)
A listener tells me this is a must-watch, and I have ordered my copy. This Sundance Film Festival award-winning documentary captures the worlds of genealogy, race relations in the Southern U.S. and a man’s search for his family identity.
Here’s the summary: “What does a name signify, exactly? Growing up in Durham, North Carolina, white filmmaker Macky Alston never questioned why all of the other Alstons at his elementary school were black. Twenty-five years later, Alston decides to unravel this perplexity in the award-winning documentary FAMILY NAME.
Alston’s quest to solve his genealogical mystery takes him from New York to Alabama and then back to North Carolina. He seeks clues at family reunions, graveyards, church services, and, eventually, the original Alston plantations. The people he meets vary markedly in race, age, class and perspective, but they all have two things in common: the family name and a compelling story to tell. The biggest question of this investigation, perhaps, is whether it will provide the Alstons with catharsis or create an even greater sense of division. As the revelations mount, FAMILY NAME unfolds an unforgettable emotional journey that transforms our conceptions of the past.”
Family Tree by Venice (mp3 Song)
(from Spin Art by Venice (CD)) is a gorgeous musical tribute to family. Some people sing or play it at family reunions, funerals and other family gatherings that are about remembering and celebrating. The musicians are part of the extended Lennon family – not John Lennon but the celebrated Lennon Sisters. There’s a lovely acoustic version of the song The Family Tree you can download, too. The group were guests on the podcast (Episode 39).
Who Do You Think You Are?: Season One
and Who Do You Think You Are: Season 2
Relive (or catch what you missed of) the unforgettable first two seasons of WDYTYA? from 2010 and 2011.
Celebs discover dramas in their family histories in front of the camera, adding their own discovery process to the story. Their family stories trace larger themes in American history and culture and lead them to reflect on the events and people that made them who they are.
The Season One lineup features Lisa Kudrow (one of the show’s producers), Sarah Jessica Parker, Matthew Broderick, Brooke Shields, Susan Sarandon, Spike Lee and Emmitt Smith.
In Season 2, you’ll meet Vanessa Williams, Tim McGraw, Rosie O’Donnell, Kim Cattrall, Lionel Richie, Steve Buscemi, Gwyneth Paltrow and Ashley Judd.
Who Do You Think You Are? Be a Family Tree Detective
by Dan Waddell offers some genealogy sleuthing fun for kids. Inspired by the show, the book helps kids tools, tips, ideas and activities “to investigate, discover, and preserve family secrets and treasures.”
It’s got kid-friendly language and plenty of colorful illustrations make this a great companion for junior genealogists.