Last night’s episode from the American Who Do You Think You Are? series was both emotive and inspiring. Film director Spike Lee delved into his slave roots to uncover stories of hardship, toil, but most of all courage.
Slavery is a topic we don’t hear much about in this country. In the context of a modern Western society, it’s incredible to think that people not only believed this way of life was acceptable, but fought hard to protect it. As Lee himself said, the idea of owning another human being is simply an alien concept to most people these days.
We have millions of records investigating America’s slavery past, and the people who shaped it. These include some brand new slave certificates, petitions and emancipation records from different states. Just try searching for the words ‘slave’ and ‘slavery’ in our Card Catalogue – and rememember to untick ‘Only records from the UK and Ireland’.
Outside the issue of slavery, it was fascinating to see Lee delving so far into his past. In the UK, we’re used to seeing WDYTYA? celebrities focus on one ancestor, or a small group. I enjoyed watching his journey through the generations, and seeing the new questions each step raised.
That’s the beauty of building your family tree, rather than just searching for individual ancestors. It puts each new discovery in the wider context of your complete family story, so they mean much more. If you haven’t yet created your tree at Ancestry.co.uk, I would definitely encourage you to start now.
While we’re talking about Who Do You Think You Are?, don’t forget the Live show at London Olympia starts this Friday. If you haven’t got your ticket yet, you can choose between our two special offers: 1 ticket for £13, or 2 for £25.