Posted by Ancestry Team on February 23, 2012 in Website, Who Do You Think You Are?

Regardless of ethnicity, when you dabble in family history, you’re likely to hit a wall. And if you’re African American, the “wall” you hit is almost guaranteed to be triggered by slavery. However, on Friday night’s episode of Who Do You Think You Are? actor Blair Underwood’s search demonstrates exactly why it’s always worth looking anyway – even when you think you’ll never get past what seems like an impossible research hurdle. Because, as Blair finds out, there are alternative record sources and technologies like DNA testing, that may help connect back to family in all new ways.

Ancestry.com is a sponsor of Who Do You Think You Are? which airs Friday nights, 8/7c, on NBC. And join us following the show at www.ancestry.com/wdytya to discover other sources you can use, too, when you’re facing a brick wall.

18 Comments

  1. Randy Kilgore

    I couldn’t find any place else to put this after poring over the customer service page, so will add it here in the hopes it gets attention. PLEASE STOP the “share your discovery” sales pitches after we click on and accept “HINTS”. Not only does it waste a lot of our time clicking it off each and every time, it is an obvious ploy to get the emails of our family and friends so you can ply them with sales pitches…and we should be able to choose to allow that on rare occasions as opposed to “at every turn.” It might also help to design an easier way to reach you with ideas and thoughts like this one. Thank you!

  2. Long time member

    Randy #1

    Try calling Ancestry on the telephone. 1-800-262-3787, toll free. You may have a little wait but if you can, just put the phone on speaker and go back to your work. They will get to you eventually. See also “Contact Us” at the bottom of each window for more info if you are not in the USA, and for hours.

  3. Robert Esch

    I too find the “Share on facebook” an annoyance. At the very least we should be given the option of turning it off on our own individual site, since there may be others who might choose to use the link.

    I also miss the convenience of finding the Blog. It seems like there has been a concerted effort to conceal a place to post comments — good or bad. I believe you will find there are many members who found easy access to the Blog a valuable place to learn, as well as to make suggestions. Don’t you want our suggestions anymore?

    Bob Esch

  4. Randy Kilgore

    Thanks to each of you for your responses AND their courtesy. Thanks also for the one from Ancestry.com staff which showed the way to the comments location under Collaborate. (“I only THOUGHT I’d looked everywhere”–I say with a sheepish look on my face.)

  5. tthacker

    We are always happy to assist, Randy! Please let us know if there is anything else that we can help you with.

  6. Thynder

    As a reader, I find it distracting to filter through comments made on blog posts that are not germane to the topic at hand. Customers should use the support site and links like the one provided by Ancestry staff to submit comments instead of using the blog post of the day or week to vent about every technical glitch.

  7. Vera McHale

    RE: Who do You Think You Are for Blair Underwood. I was a bit disappointed by the 1806 Virginia Law that made no sense. The climate of the time was the US government blocking the slaves ships from coming into Virginia. I did not understand either why you would lead him to think his ancestors took care of parents by buying them when they were free if he was. What was that law again? The other part was the DNA cousin being a bit far fetched. By that test method every Negro is his cousin. And you didn’t explore his French side either. Genetically there is no such thing as a European gene or African gene. There are basically only four genetic types, Jew, Negro, Asian and White people. Nothing is ever quite that simple, but I dare you to find a cousin of mine from a 1600s line because it is DNA too far removed to be my cousin. I just felt very bad for Blair Underwood because of the manner of your presentation. It left a bad taste for me. It was not the subject matter. It was the manner of presentation that I found a bit demeaning. I think it is interesting that I do not look like my primary genetic trait so people have always told me their prejudices thinking I am white. I got pretty good at seeing undertones. I hope you see it too. Your idea of presenting these programs is too good to loose. You may not be able to walk in another man’s shoes but you should be able to be more factual. Way too vague !

  8. BobNY

    Vera #10

    Blair Underwood, his genealogy and the DNA testing were not the point of the show, It was one long product placement to entice the gullible into buying their new product.

    From the Ancestry website:
    Our newest DNA test is about to change the way you view family history.Thanks to advances in DNA technology, connecting to your past will be easier than ever, especially when it’s combined with the world’s largest online family history resource.

  9. Paul K

    What I do not understand is why the European branches of the African-Americans has been almost completely ignored. Is no person of African-American heritage interested in THAT part of their history? I think it would have been much more interesting to have Blair meet with a 10th cousin from France instead of the oh so predictable “Roots” connection. My father’s family is from Finland and my mother’s side is mostly Colonial American. I am interested in both histories not just one or the other.

  10. scwbcm

    I would also like to see a show going back with both sides of a family. Most of us have someone or some line in our family that we don’t really admire. Nevertheless, that line may play into our health history. Also, if you get past that one person or even a few people and go further back in a line there may be other things you do appreciate. I have one person in my line that was not a good person and if I look further back I can see that his father was also not great. Her mother on the other hand appears to have been someone I would have greatly admired. We get to pick our friends, not our parents.

  11. I would also like to see a show going back with both sides of a family. Most of us have someone or some line in our family that we don’t really admire. Nevertheless, that line may play into our health history. Also, if you get past that one person or even a few people and go further back in a line there may be other things you do appreciate. I have one person in my line that was not a good person and if I look further back I can see that his father was also not great. Her mother on the other hand appears to have .

  12. donya

    Ok I am not one to jump the gun on race issues but I don’t think I am fully understanding these post. number one: ancestry.com does not produce this show but is affiliated with it so to complain to them about what “they” did seems ridiculous. number two: As a black woman they showed his african roots because it is almost impossible to trace our roots the way that he did. finally I am very interested in my european side as well as any other side I may have but if I had to choose what side I wanted to know first it would be the way they did it. It is very selfish of most of you to make the comments you have made without thinking what he may have wanted to do. Because of my family last name (which is very european) If I meet someone with that name white or black (not negro) they are my family. Watch what you say up here prayerfully when these types of messages are posted you (ancestry.com) give warning and then hopefully suspend the accounts when they simply go to far.

  13. Tami I love this peice. I recently read a book Someone Knows My Name, by Lawrence Hill, which was etritwn from the point of view of a woman stolen from West African and enslaved in the U.S. The story traces her story through her running away and living as a free’ woman (still oppressed by the slave masters that could steal her back into slavery any day and oppressed by racist society) in Canada, Sierra Leone in Freetown, and then London. I was ashamed that I HAD NO IDEA the background behind Freetown, Sierra Leone where my husband’s parents are from. My husband had talked about it a little bit, but this was the first time I read something that really went into the founding of Freetown and how it related to surrounding West Africa. I felt like a light had been turned on in my mind. What a PROUD history that my husband passes along to our son!! His ancestors survived being captured and enslaved and at least two boat trips across the Atlantic! His ancestors got back to Africa and were able to thrive before finally making the choice to come back here to the US on their own terms. And AfAm history is FILLED with those kinds of stories of triumph over disgusting inhumane treatment! But one of the legacies of slavery is that many African Americans can’t access that history. Young AA children deserve to be able to feel proud about the accomplishments of their ancestors (even just surviving that inhumane treatment is amazing) they are too often not given the opportunity to realize how much was accomplished under such terrible conditions. I feel like when I was in school we just talked about some famous Black figures during Feb and it wasn’t placed in the context of oppression so it almost took on a these are exceptions tone. I’m so glad that there is a way to get some of this information so that African Americans can piece together their histories if they choose to.

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