'Who Do You Think You Are?" Episode One Recap
Posted by Diane
We’ll be doing quick recaps of every “Who Do You Think
You Are?” episode right here. So if you haven’t yet watched the Sarah Jessica
Parker episode and you don’t want to know, stop reading this second.
Here are some of my thoughts (and Facebook posts) while I watched:
Sarah Jessica Parker (SJP) and her brother are joking about
being related to a Mayflower passenger. I smell foreshadowing.
SJP's father is Eastern-European Jewish, but she has lots of
questions about her mother’s side. Her mother born and raised in Cincinnati’s
German Community (just like my mom’s dad). SJP visits her mom and learns her
great-grandmother's last name was Hodge.
SJP goes to Cincinnati's Clifton Public Library, about 10
minutes from where I am right now, meeting with genealogist Natalie Cottrill. (Read
more about her visit in this Cincinnati Enquirer article.)
SJP’s great-grandfather John Hodge is reported dead in
1849 in a newspaper article, but appears in the census in California the next
First Ancestry.com commercial.
Now she’s at the Museum Center, formerly Cincinnati’s Union Terminal train station (a great place to visit if you're ever in town), meeting with UCLA history professor Stephen Aron.
Hodge invested $200 in a gold-prospecting company. He
left for California, leaving his wife (whom he may or may not have known was
pregnant). It’s neat to see SJP’s genuine excitement and curiosity. Now off to
I’m concerned viewers will think you actually have to
visit every place your ancestors lived in order to research. That might make it
even more fun and exciting, but it’s definitely not required!
John Hodge did die after he arrived in California. Sad.
SJP says it's “extraordinary” to think your ancestor was part of such
a profound event in history. That’s what I love about genealogy.
Now Josh Taylor from the New England Historic
Genealogical Society is telling her about John Hodge’s family. 1849 to 1635 in
15 seconds flat.
Now we’re on to the Massachusetts Historical Society. (You
can read more about the MHS visit here.)
SJP is looking at an online index and
sees the word “warrant” by her ancestor’s last name. Cut to commercial!
I love the little review after every commercial
SJP’s ancestor Esther Elwell was arrested for performing
witchcraft against her neighbor, Mary Fitch, causing Fitch to die. SJP is so surprised,
Another commercial break!
Whew! SJP’s relative was arrested near the end of the trials, and ended up never having to go to court. She lived
to age 82.
I feel like there should be a disclosure telling us how
many hours and how many people all this research took. But, I really enjoyed watching someone else enjoy the process of genealogy. It was fun watching along with my Facebook genealogy friends. I think the show told a great story, introduced us to (or reacquainted us with) historical events, and got across how meaningful family history research can be.
Update: For more details on how the research into SJP's ancestry was done, see our March 8 post.
"Who Do You Think You Are?" | Celebrity Roots
Friday, 05 March 2010 21:20:21 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)