An earlier posting suggested the Public Broadcasting System(PBS) series Who Do You Think You Are as a worthwhile dive into genealogy as seen through the eyes of famous people in entertainment, such as Meryl Streep, Sarah Jessica Parker, Yo Ma Ma and Eva Longoria Parker.
I am coming back to this now having seen several of the series with high enthusiasm and to share some thoughts.
First, the series is really not about these famous people, but rather how little they knew about their ancestral background and in many cases the impact such findings had on their self-image. An example: Sarah Jessica Parker (who admittedly overacted a bit here yet ended as a motivator) always considered herself an 1800s European Jew. But by tracing her background from Ohio to the gold rush in California she found her family had been in this country since 1635 and even participated in a famous historical event – the Salem witch trials of 1692.
Another example: Eva Longoria Parker of television’s Desperate Housewives. Her background is described on Wikipedia as a Mexican American born in Texas. The PBS research offered a remarkably different picture. Her family was Spanish (as are many Mexicans) living in Mexico and in 1610 (as I remember) was given considerable acreage in a Grant by the Spanish King for land in what was Mexico but now the United States. Eva’s people got to our country before the Mayflower!
Meryl Streep determined her forefathers had founded Pennsylvania as a State in 1607, to her complete surprise.
The point of all the research on this wonderful series is to suggest several thoughts:
• In many cases we are not who we think we are nor do we come from where we may think;
• You must travel to where your family originated or moved to locate some truly mind-opening data, the Internet will not do it all;
• Genealogy is hard work, but both fun and exciting – especially when you locate a serendipity which changes the course in your mind of the family’s history.
If you are lacking in incentive to dig deeper into genealogy, this series should be a real motivator for you.
If you missed earlier showings, you may find them at http://www.nbc.com/who-do-you-think-you-are/video/episodes/#vid=1206958.