The one obvious exception in this evening's broadcast was the fact that it was videotaped in Austin, Texas, in the historic Driskill Hotel. Many of the stories revolved around Texas genealogy and history. One guest found she was a relative of, although not a descendant of, Sam Houston and also Texas' current governor, Rick Perry. Another found that her Tejano ancestor fought in the Texas Revolution. She also had her DNA tested and it indicated descent from Crypto Jews, one of the groups who settled in Mexico early in its colonial days. DNA obviously doesn't provide names, places, or dates, but does provide connections to documented ethnic groups.
Most of the guests are non-celebrities on Genealogy Roadshow, but this week's episode had one exception: Earl Campbell is a former National Football League running back. He won the Heisman Trophy, and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, the College Football Hall of Fame, and the High School Football Hall of Fame. He was the sixth of eleven children, raised in Tyler, Texas. His father died when Campbell was 11 years old and Earl Campbell knew little about his father or his father's ancestors. The professional genealogists of Genealogy Roadshow found information about Campbell's father's participation in D-Day in World War II, as well as about earlier ancestors who owned farms in Tyler.
This evening's episode was the final one for this season of Genealogy Roadshow although I suspect it will be available in reruns for some time. I certainly hope it gets renewed next year. It is a great addition for PBS.
I like the format of the show, although I have read comments from people who would disagree with me. The format is not perfect, in my opinion, but does a great job of introducing the fun of genealogy to the American public. Luckily, it does not focus on movie stars who jet-set around the world in search of their family trees. Even better, it also does not show the nitty-gritty of how to do genealogy by spending hours looking at original records. While very important for the genealogist to learn, a detailed explanation of the methodogy would require hours and probably would cause most non-genealogists to quickly change channels. Experienced genealogists would appreciate such information but that level of detail would result in a much smaller audience.
Instead, Genealogy Roadshow focuses solely on the results, showing good news and bad news alike. After all, we cannot pick our relatives. Indeed, the black sheep in the family tree are usually the most interesting ones of all!
As an introduction to genealogy, I believe that Genealogy Roadshow succeeds and should be repeated for a few more years. Let other shows focus on the methodology of doing genealogy research. Genealogy Roadshow works well as the introductory program that shows how much fun all this can be. I invite you to look for yourself to see what you think.
As I write these words, this week's episode of Genealogy Roadshow is not yet available online. However, I am sure it will appear within a few hours at http://video.pbs.org/program/genealogy-roadshow/.