Monday, October 7, 2013

Thoughts on Genealogy Roadshow: Indian Village, Detroit episode

A week late, but what the hey...

  • On connecting to a famous person as a distant cousin in your family tree - if you have to go back to 1630 in order to find that common great-grandparent, it's really not much to brag about. Yes, Abraham Lincoln is your distant cousin. He's also the distant cousin of about a bazillion other people alive today. Okay, his relatives are probably not as prolific as, say, Charlemagne's, but the point is, if everyone you know can claim that same distant cousin, it doesn't make it all that special.
  • That was the cynic in me. The exception to that, I would say, is something like the woman who discovered she was a direct descendant of Ponce de Leon. Direct descendancy is a little more exciting and a little more obscure than the famous distant cousins we can all claim. Plus, descendancy from a famous explorer rather than a European royal is also a little more obscure and exciting, at least in my opinion. That, I thought, was very cool.
  • As much as the famous distant cousin discovery is boring to me, I do find interesting the questions like the guy who wanted to know if Blackman was the name his Eastern European ancestors originally had or if it evolved from something else. Anybody who has a non-English last name can probably relate to some extent - whether it was the guy at Ellis Island who wrote down the last name phonetically or didn't hear it properly in the first place, or the second generation American who changed the spelling/pronunciation of a name to blend in more, it is good to remember that not only can the spelling of a name change in our research, but we might end up looking for another name altogether!
  • The Polish woman who worked for Ford - very interesting that her grandparents were from America! But they went back to Poland, and so that's where she was born. Unfortunate time to return to Europe, though, right before World War II. 
  • I've realized that the reason this show really doesn't grip me or draw me in the way other genealogy shows do is because we don't get to see any of the steps leading us from Point A to Point B to Point C in the research. I don't like just being handed information. I want to know the steps you took to acquire it - first you found this photo, then you looked at this document, then you visited this cemetery, etc. It's the detective work that's half the fun, and even if I'm not doing the actual discovery, I like you to tell me your research journey, for my own curiosity AND for verification purposes.

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