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  • This is a fascinating series on the genealogy of famous people. I love the way these stories unfold layer by layer to reveal the drama that is humanity from the great wars, massive migrations, and religious persecution to stories of everyday life. Birth, census, marriage, property, court and death records provide factual information of those that came before us and are woven with general historical information that is known about the time period to bring to life ancestors who were not previously known. These stories are often poignant and emotional as we come to know personal struggles. They educate us today of the way life used to be; where young children often died from diseases that today are easily prevented, where prejudice was accepted as the norm and a lack of social safety nets led to destitution. It reminds us how far we have come. How medical advances such as vaccinations and contraception have improved lives by saving children from horrible diseases and helping families plan the size of families in order to better support them. For all that is wrong with media today, it can put a spotlight on abuses and human suffering which lead to social change today. It brings to mind that great quotation attributed to George Santayana and repeated by Winston Churchill "Those that fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it."

    Although I really enjoy this series, it sometimes has a scripted feel and is a blatant commercial for Ancestry.com. I rate this series an 8 out of 10.
  • This show was first shown on NBC for 3 seasons, and is now continuing on TLC. I'm happy that they're continuing without much decline in the production value. I doubt it costs much, and the most important ingredient are the celebrities.

    Each episode, one celebrity investigate his/her ancestral history usually concentrating on something they're interested in. That's really the only rub I have against this show. The celebrities could certainly hide things they don't want to air in public. But most importantly, they might be interested in a really boring ancestor.

    That doesn't happen a lot. Most of the discoveries are quite fascinating. Not only does it reveal personal history, but sometimes it reveals little known world history events. It brings the past worlds to life in the most personal ways.
  • Humans love stories, and this show does an excellent job of using television to tell the stories of real people, without being maudlin or mawkish, or throwing them into contrived situations for comic or dramatic effect.

    While we are dealing with the ancestors of a very select group of people (after all, how many would watch a show about *my* family tree?), the stories they tell are the stories of all of us: the former German POW who loved his time in an Iowa POW camp so much he came back to the U.S. after WWII. The story of a family torn apart by alcoholism and abuse. The story of people fighting for justice, sometimes at the risk of their own lives.

    To get stories told this well, I am willing to put up with the heavy handed references to ancestry.com, and the smiling, infallible librarians and archivists who seem to always have just the right document.

    Lisa Kudrow was great in "Friends" but I think this is the show should should put at the top of her resume
  • If you're a person who's interested in seeing where people came from and what made them what they are today then this is definitely the show for you.

    The show focuses on a different celebrity each episode whether if they're an actor, musician or athlete. You have them go around the country and sometimes the world looking up birth certificate, death certificates or whatever to find out what took place in the earlier generations of your family. A lot of times the ancestors of these celebrities were involved with some fairly significance moments in history.

    Not the best show ever but it's an interesting watch for an hour at a time.
  • As a genealogist, I've gotten ideas from this show on locating info on my relatives. Also, it's fun to see where celebrities have come from.

    However, I do wish they'd do this same thing for "not celebrities" and us common folk. Celebrities can afford to pay someone to do their genealogy. Regular folks can't, and it would be nice if this show would occasionally choose someone from the world and do it for them for free (including what they do for the celebrities, flying them to different cities to meet with people and see from whence they came)
  • Who Do You Think You Are

    Series 17

    Jodie Whitaker, a really brilliant and revealing show, John Walter, why the BBC thought the content needed parental guidance is a mystery, war is brutal war. Two observations that show unfortunate bias in Jodi, to get on a train as a pregnant woman on your own is not an act of female bravery of note. Secondly Jodi seems determined to have some working class credentials, when she is in fact privileged middle class, to use these outdated sociological describers. Jodi needs to accept she has moved upwards. With regard to her preconceived judgements on her family of mine owners who ran a risky business in a difficult economy, she gasps in amazement when her relative leaves 1.5 million in today's money, she herself is worth three time that in today's money, and two council houses in Plaistow add up to that. Either way I really enjoyed this slice of history as Jodi was entirely genuine and it is her story after all.

    David Walliams, this was brilliant stuff from start to finish, I would just make one observation that the mistrust of travelling people does not come from nowhere and David states they were "othered" without appreciating that this might not stem from discrimination but actions and behaviours by travellers themselves. The coverage of the First World War was so interesting but some of the "experts" added little.

    Ruth Jones, this was really quite brilliant TV, a total delight from start to finish. It was great to understand some Welsh history.

    Liz Carr, this was heady stuff I was on the edge of my seat, brilliant!

    The BBC at its best and can we have someone that covers some American history as this was quite fascinating before.
  • This is one of the better "reality-based" shows on network TV since it has to do with learning about yourself and where you originally came from, but not the best.

    Since celebrities are used in each episode, this show needs more diverse people to discuss their genealogy with. There are approximately 10 episodes per season and out of all of the episodes, only ONE person depicted is non-white. We live in a melting pot of ethnicities, and there are hundreds of actors that are non-white that have fascinating genealogy stores to be told.

    "Finding Your Roots" on PBS is MUCH more diverse in who's history to follow whether they are black, hispanic, Jewish, or homoesexual. Check your local PBS stations of when it will air. Generally "Finding Your Roots" starts airing in Sept. It's more worthwhile to watch.
  • Respect tyhe privacy of the dead

    This show talks about the private lives of generations of relatives. The show I watched yesterday about a woman who dug up the 3 marriage contracts of her great great grandfather just to be able to say and chuckle that "he was married 3 times" raises the issue about the privacy of the dead.

    At present time, NSW laws do not allow people who are not party to the marriage to get copies of marriage certificates. But if they are 30 years old, anyone, not even those related to them can. There is here a certain irony.

    Likewise from a certain ethical point of view, just because they are dead doesn't mean you can do whatever you like just because you can. If they were living, do you think those people would have allowed very distant relatives to pry into their lives, let alone dig up and get copies of their marriage contracts? Put yourself in the place of the dead. See how it goes.

    Furthermore, Article 17 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights provides "Article 17 1. No one shall be subjected to arbitrary or unlawful interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to unlawful attacks on his honour and reputation.

    2. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks. " Just because they are dead 30 years or 100 years does not mean that have become less than "everyone". They were someone once, as we are now.

    Likewise, the OECD Guidelines on the Protection of Privacy and Transborder Flows of Personal Data provides that "although national laws and policies may differ, Member countries have a common interest in protecting privacy and individual liberties, and in reconciling fundamental but competing values such as privacy and the free flow of information; ".

    Sometimes its not what we want to do with other people's lives but its what they would have wanted had they been alive