Posted by on February 11, 2010 in News, Who Do You Think You Are?

As you may have already heard, NBC is premiering the new TV show Who Do You Think You Are? on March 5 at 8/7c.

The family history-focused series will lead seven celebrities on a heart-warming journey back in time as they discover more about the ancestors who came before them. Lisa Kudrow, who executive produced the show, will be featured, along with Sarah Jessica Parker, Spike Lee, Matthew Broderick, Susan Sarandon, Emmitt Smith, and Brooke Shields.

We hope you’ll invite your friends and family to watch the show. For ideas around how to spread the word about Who Do You Think You Are?, check out


The idea for Who Do You Think You Are? originated from a show that has been phenomenally successful in the United Kingdom for several years. During the last season, more than 5 million viewers tuned in to watch the show. All in all, the UK has seen a surge of interest in family genealogy, and we hope and expect the same reaction from Who Do You Think You Are? in the United States.

If you haven’t already seen it, check out the Who Do You Think You Are? trailer to see what it’s all about.

EXPANDING INTEREST IN FAMILY HISTORY is a partner and sponsor for the show, and assisted in researching  the celebrities’ family histories to be used in the show.

Many of the reasons we partnered with NBC are the same reasons the genealogy community will be interested in the show – because Who Do You Think You Are? brings family history to the general public and presents new opportunities for the entire genealogy community. This means:

  • More people may want to join a local genealogical society
  • More people asking for help finding their stories
  • Increased media exposure for the family history community
  • More funding and resources for organizations focused on family history

What is wonderful about the show is that it will help people everywhere understand what they could discover about their own family stories.

Who Do You Think You Are? could very well be the next biggest family history phenomenon since Roots. America will see a renewed interest in family history.

Let your friends and family know about this exciting new show and get ready watch on Friday nights at 8/7c starting March 5th.

Learn more about Who Do You Think You Are?


  1. Lynn

    I understand the show may be interesting, but I find the headline “Who Do You Think You Are?” very sad. Who I am is totally in my control–what I make of myself and contribute to society.

    Although I truly enjoy my genealogy research, it is because I find is interesting to know what my ancestors did and made of themselves–which may or may not have had a direct or indirect impact on whom I am today. I would find it particularly sad to learn that someone bases their worth on what their ancestors either did nor did not do.

  2. Jamie

    It’s funny because I started out being interested in family history because no one in my family could ever tell me a thing about our past. Now that I have learned how to look it up and have found my family history I think it is absoulutley one of the most important things you can do for yourself and your family.

    Not only does it help you understand who you are but you learn something about your country and the world you may not have known before.

    I am very excited about this show. I think it will bring alot of interest to family history and history itself.

    The only thing that I don’t care too much for is the fact that the show is about celebrities. I can understand that this will draw people but why not have the show about regular every day people? Believe me the regular every day people have some pretty interesting family history too.

  3. Rolland K Hauser

    I agree that it is unfortunate that NBC is concentrating on celebraties. There is too much of that going on all ready.

  4. I have not seen this program but I would not be pleased if you continued to do business with NBC.
    I think I speak for many older citizens when I say we are not happy with how NBC pushes their political agenda on everyone.
    I am an ex college football player and I love to view Pro football; however I will turn off a program if Keith Olbermann is on it.

  5. wgm003

    It’s interesting that I was struck by the same as JAMIE, in that NBC as well as almost all of the news outlets tends to concentrate their programming on the “celebrity” class. Personally, I don’t give a fig who Sarah Jessica Parker, Spike Lee, Matthew Broderick, Susan Sarandon, Emmitt Smith, and Brooke Shields family are. I fully expect that the resources devoted to tracing their trees will be above and beyond those available to the “common man.”

  6. Tom Rockne

    #6 Perry Ballard,

    NO, you don’t speak for many older citizens. If you have an opinion, even an uniformed one, man up and own it yourself.

  7. crohr

    How does a non-star get on a show like this? I have a tree that aalot of people know by my names but have three great big holes. Help please. Carolyn

  8. rye470

    Have any of you seen a
    n episode of ‘Who do you think you are’?

    This series has been airing in the UK for a number of years. They are on series 7 to be exact. The idea of the whole series is How did we come to be where we are today? Nothing to do with who controls your destiny. That is entirely up to you, but had your ancestors not been brave enough to take a huge leap of faith and hope, where would you be now. Isn’t that why you are a member of this community? To find out about the people who shaped your life.

    dklart, I’m afraid PBS much as I love this series, did not do it first, the BBC did with the afore mentioned series. PBS just ‘tweeked’ it slightly.

    So, the show is about celebrities. Guess what, they weren’t born celebrities, and they all have family histories which are as interesting as our own.

    Nobody will force you to watch these programmes. I’m guessing you all have a remote control, or an Off button at the very least. However, I would recommend that you watch at least one episode. You may even enjoy it. If not, then you will be able to comment on something you have at least first hand knowledge off.

    I am a Brit now living permanently in the US. I have seen the series whilst home on vacation, so I DO know what I’m talking about, which is more than I c an say for any other post here so far.

  9. dklart


    You’re quite the authority, however I too have lived and breathed the wonder of the series in the UK. I especially loved the riveting episode of the TV presenter, there’s an hour gone I’ll never get back.

    I’m afraid I must one up you. I seen the entire PBS series, a perk of being in the business, and it’s a bit more than slight tweeking of the UK drivel.


    It would be more interesting if you it was about every day people. Celebrities have more assests to have someone do their history and I don’t they would appreciate the joy we normal citizens find in doing the hunt. I love all things about finding my roots and the struggle. I also enjoy the new people I meet and who have helped me along the way with suggestions, info and encouragement. There are so many lessons learned in seeking out ones family and I hope everyone continues their journey with success!

  11. Monte Neece

    I’m glad NBC or anyone is running this program. Using celebrities only assures a larger audience. All of that is good because it means more people getting into genealogy which means more people looking through old family papers and Bibles which means I might someday finally find that elusive ancestor! It saddens me to see a few grinches complain about small matters. If we had blogs in the 1970’s, what would have been written about Roots before it aired?!

  12. GPSimmons

    I’m like Jamie, I knew nothing about my family, didn’t even know if my father had any siblings. Being raised in “boarding homes” as they were called when I was growing up,(1930-1940’s with anywhere from 30 to 350 kids, depending on which one we were in), gave me no opportunity to ask any/many questions of my parents. My sister was adopted, but passed away with cancer before she was able to find who her biological parents were. To me, that is so sad. I did find out she was my dad’s biological daughter a couple of years ago. I wish she had at least known that much. We were born in the ’30’s and am really excited to think the census for the 1940’s should be coming available this year. Certainly hope so.

  13. Les

    Hi everyone,
    I am very excited about the show. I will definitely spread the word about: Who Do You Think You Are?
    I recall combing the BBC on my English Ancestry before I joined
    Especially an article: What’s In a Name? Your Link to the Past
    Which should be helpful to anyone researching Surnames!!!

    Looks like BBC has been airing Who Do You Think You Are?
    Series 1-7 since: Broadcast Fri, 28 Dec 2007 – up until now: Broadcast Tue, 19 Jan 2010.
    Great to see the show airing in the States.

    Thank you everyone at & NBC
    Warm regards

  14. Jimmie

    I think this a great step in motivating more people towards genealogy which will benefit us all. There are alot of people with alot of valuable genealogical info that just haven’t been inclined to share it due to lack of interest or understanding. This may very well add tons of invaluable information. Glad to see something more mainstream about the all the little pieces that all of us are made up of.

  15. I am looking forward to see this show but instead of using celebraties, it might be kind of fun just picking a few people who actually have family websites on and contacting a few of them and do this show on helping the average person to trace thier history.

  16. I got started in researching my first deceased husband, my children father, lineage as my grands wanted to know their backgrounds. Was able to go back as far as the 10th century. They are delighted as I found knights and Sirs in the English side. The Jewish background on my side and I really loved history anyway and now at my age I have the time to leave my grands and great grands something to remember.
    Thanks for what you do. And I will certainly watch the show to get more ideas.
    Bettie Blume Gunter Knight.

  17. Ginny Sommarstrom

    This is all well and good, but what is Ancestry doing to help local genealogical societies leverage this massive new interest in genealogy into new members and programs? Will you provide advertising with links to local genealogy websites? Lists of local societies by geographic area? Anything???


  19. I know who I am

    I am in the UK, have an interest in local and family history. I have watched all the BBC programmes. What I do enjoy, especially in the early series, is that they reveal the many types of archives and documents which are now available to the family history researcher. But it does not show the time and costs involved in accessing those same resources.
    I also enjoy the descriptions of the social history of the ancestors.

    I can put up with the use of a celebrity providing they do not start blubbing when they hear the tale of their ggg grandfather who died of the plague.

  20. Bromaelor

    I agree with “I know who I am”. The earlier series of WDYTYA in the UK were far better than the later ones, when that sad cult of personality did appear to take over. But perhaps this is what is wanted by those people who believe that it is actually important to have presidents; billionaires and movie stars in their trees?
    Ancestry, wake up at that “WHELL”!!!

  21. Elle Litist

    The series is another marketing arm for, an hour long infomercial.

    As evidenced by some Ancestry blog and message board posts, the masses are already being sold instant genealogy. This series will enable a new wave of the barely literate finding their way to One World Tree, the resting place of Knights and Knaves, Kings, Queens, and Movie Stars. They will deposit more inane clutter on the message boards and build their trees in break neck time courtesy of shaky leaf click n’ copy.

    You can’t learn how to research from a TV show. People should support their local libraries, genealogical and historical societies. Many offer classes on how to research. There aren’t any shortcuts to historical research. It requires time, investment and a skill set that includes reading, writing and critical thinking beyond a 5th grade level.

  22. wgm003

    I must agree. It is refreshing to see that someone else recognizes that the majority of One World Tree entries are nothing more than plagiarism aided by the cut and paste tools. I noted recently that one set of comments on wwt were nothing more than copies of entries from a hard copy (and copyrighted) book detailing the Lauderdales in America. One person had done the copying from the book and ½ dozen more had copied the original plagiarism. I have a signed copy of this book and it was not cheap!

  23. Elle Litist

    Please don’t get me wrong, the ability to research databases on-line is more than worth the price of subscription.

    Like Microsoft, Ancestry has a product to sell. This type of series is a cheap to produce hybrid of reality TV and advertisement. They focus on people who can sell their product to get the most bang out of their advertising buck. The hope of them knocking on some no-name dullard’s door to search their history is absurd. They don’t care if you know how to use it, or if you’re successful. They are selling a product, that is all they are contractually obligated to do. is a commercial, publicly traded enterprise, not the Mother Theresa of Genealogy.

  24. I think the show is going to be a fantastic success as it was in Ireland and Great Britain. The only problem is starting the next day after the show you cannot get into the various archives because they are full, on-line certificate services cannot cope with the number of applications they receive, the whole system slows down because of the volume of people searching their roots. Great for Ancestry, you better tune up your servers.

  25. Bob Esch

    In regard to One World Trees, they have their bad points, but they also have their good points. I look at them as an additional possible source. One must look carefully at the information, checking it with other sources, but I found an ancester that I would not otherwise have found without it. The surname was misspelled, but I was eventually able to get to the truth, and once I found her, I was able to talk to a living descendant who had saved all kinds of photos, old post cards, etc. It was a gold mine I had never expected to find.

  26. Jeff Ford

    #8 Tom Rockne,

    Perry may not speak for many “older” citizens, but he does speak for many others.

    The involvement of NBC and its decision to focus on celebrities is unfortunate. I really don’t give a rip about any of those people or their family histories. I think it will be nothing more than a People Magazine info.

  27. Jeff Re: 34

    I don’t mind the celebrities as long as they don’t keep reminding us of the fact… but I want to see explicit research done and the methodology thereof- not “we found this record in blah, blah, blah” I want to see them doing the actual research to find the darn record to begin with.

    If it doesn’t do that- as well as show the dead ends they ran into before finding the right record then it is a complete waste of time.

    It is the research I’m interested in- not their life stories.

  28. Tom Rockne

    #24 Jeff Ford,

    The post I commented on said nothing about celebrities. It was a rant on the imaginary liberal media.

    NBC and Ancestry can produce anything they want with whomever they want. Put that in your free market pipe and smoke it. As someone else pointed out, this is about marketing a product.

    #35, Network TV doesn’t work that way, I cite Extreme Home Makeover as an example.

  29. Mary Beth Marchant

    I clicked on the promo and what I saw was simply a resume on the accomplishments of one of the “celebrities”. If trumpeting their life history is what this is all about, then it is not worth watching. Only time will tell. Starting off with celebrities might be alright if the program actually does the genealogy history including showing the methods used but if all the program continues to do is trumpet celebrities then I will not be watching. Some ordinary people should be researched. Some of us, though ordinary, do have historical people in our family history. I just found out my distant connection to a Belgian Olympic gold medal winner from 1976. His father came to the US in 1927, married, and moved his family to Sweden, then from there to Belgium. Even ordinary people have interesting relatives.

  30. Marie

    I am looking forward to the new show…and for all of you who seem so negative about and it’s marketing practices, I notice it hasn’t stopped you from getting on and posting to this blog.

    I, for one, am very thankful for the information I find on this website. I find it well worth what I have to spend on it each year. I cannot afford to travel around the country and dig for records and maybe not find anything.

    I agree that some of the ancestry world tree trees have alot of plagiarized information…so verify it for pete’s sake. I, too, have found information on those trees that has helped push me in a direction I might not have went had it not been for the information I found in a tree.

    Thanks, Ancestry. I look forward to viewing the program. I do hope it focuses some on the research and dead-ends and not just what was found.

  31. l.Horner

    I think the show should deal with everyday people…i have some interesting people in my family..a circus owner..a big hotel owner…a great great grandfather killed by the knights of the golden circle…these are as important as celeb….

  32. David

    I look forward to seeing this show. I am particularly interested on the segment with Brooke Shields. We are distant relatives through the Shields line and I think it will be very interesting to learn more about her and see some of the research that has been done and maybe learn a bit more about my own heritage.

  33. Heather Erickson

    Ginny #22 – Thanks for your comment. We absolutely recognize that Who Do You Think You Are? presents the genealogy community with a golden opportunity to grow and strengthen genealogical societies. In fact, we’re currently working closely with societies to help them benefit from the show, and have even provided societies with the following 10 ideas to help leverage the show’s popularity for future growth:

    1. Post flyers, wallpaper, and other communication tools available on
    2. Host a Who Do You Think You Are? premiere party.
    3. Hold a society open house or workshop for beginners.
    4. Invite local media to your society’s premiere party, open house, or workshop.
    5. Send an email to society members to let them know about the show.
    6. Encourage society members to invite their friends to society events and workshops.
    7. Prepare getting started materials for beginners.
    8. Share the Who Do You Think You Are? trailer through your society’s communication tools and social networks.
    9. Highlight the benefits of society membership at Who Do You Think You Are? events.
    10. Brainstorm more ideas with your society members.

    If you are a leader of a genealogical society and are interested in receiving updates from on ways to leverage the show, please email us the name of your genealogical society, along with your contact information to

  34. We are all interested in this subject. I look forward to being able to gather in one place all1,000,000 descendants of Joris Jansen Rapalje and Catalije Trico who were among the first arrivals in the New Netherland in 1624. Anyone who is connected –no matter how distantly–to this couple, please post to my blog:

  35. Zoe

    I hope that the program will be educational, and that the authors will present us with detailed explanations of how they undertook their geneaological research. I noticed that most of the guests invited to the program are celebrities in the entertainment business. Although, I understand that celebrities draw viewers, it would be nice to see a variety of guests from ‘all walks of life’ on the show. Famous authors, factory workers, my neighbor, your postman. As previously mentioned, one doesn’t have to be famous to have famous ancestors. The opposite is true as well. On a personal note, I wish would obtain more records from other countries as both my parents are immigrants. I check in from time to time and remain hopeful.

  36. Jeff Ford

    #36 Tom Rockne

    >Put that in your free market pipe and smoke it.

    Are you always this rude or were you born this way? You really need to take some anger management classes.

  37. eviemom1938

    I don’t know why people are so rude and judgmental about this up-coming series. I have seen “Faces of America” and thought it was intriguing (sp). I don’t care who was selected, it was fun to watch with many mysteries exposed. I also watched “The Human Family” and that was wonderful,too. I am looking forward to watching “Who Do You Think You Are?” It’s not about celebrities; it’s about people. Haven’t you wondered about what happened to an Aunt Minnie? My aunt, now 91, has been searching for her grandfather for 40 years. I went to a small genealogy library in a small town and had the answer in 5 minutes. I was thrilled to tell my aunt while she is still alive that her grandfather had not run off, he had been run over by a car and was killed. This is something to have fun with and maybe, finish knowing about why the men in your family die to early. Medical clues from Ancestors can be boon to some families. Lighten up and have a good time. I never was interested in genealogy until the last 2 years. Now that I’m 71, I’m sorry I didn’t ask more questions about family members I never knew. Good luck!

  38. Karen Baker

    Who Do You Think You Are? is great. I live in Australia. We have had 2 Australian series and seen 3 from the UK. It does not matter who the person is, it’s their family story that is compelling, how one decision can totally change the outcome for a family. I have seen one episode of Faces of America. Both genealogy programs are interesting and may provide clues about where to look to find answers about your own family.

  39. Susan

    This show has been in Enland and Australia for quite some time. I recommend it for anyone that is interested in family history. They only have decendants with very interesting stories and you can get a few hints on how to break through some of those brickwalls

  40. Debbie Surrey

    I agree with Zoe #43.

    I hope the program will be educational, and that they share research tips.

    Watching the PBS series and don’t like the way they jump around between people. It gets very confusing. Stick with one person at a time.

  41. jane king

    I have been a member of for many years and recently purchased the newest Family Tree Maker. I would be interested in taking a class on using the above program as I do much better being shown than reading about it. My comprehension level is adequate but I prefer hands on learning. You learn more “tricks” with an experienced teacher. I am also interested in finding a reasonable geneaologist to help me with my “brick wall” on Canada. Any help in finding a class in the San Gabriel Valley would be appreciated. Thank You Very Much

  42. AHMIowa

    (To counter Perry Ballard’s comment – I will watch a show specifically WHEN Keith Olbermann is on it – he’s wonderful!)

    Anyway – This show is interesting, and I am a member of

    But shouldn’t this show be accompanied by an effort to open adoption records, so that ALL can find out “who they are”? My father was adopted in 1927. This fact, along with any actual birth records, was hidden from him. The anguish of not knowing your heritage, and of having that secrecy enforced by the state, is unconsionable, and makes the airing of this series along with the PBS series particularly cruel to adoptees and their families.

    I firmly believe that this series should be accompanied by a political initiative to open the records of (at least) adult adoptees, to give them the same psychological comforts as well as medical history information that is available to most Americans.

  43. Sharon

    I hope that more people, no matter where they are “from” get excited about their own family history. It is a joy to me to make a “discovery”, connect with relatives I didn’t know existed, and pass the information on to family members and others who are curious about their ancestors. So, that said, I will watch and learn, from PBS, NBC or from any other channel that supports learning about genealogy.

  44. Roger

    Really baffled when I finally get on to my program and see this blue info regarding the new series on NBC. When I highlight to watch, I’m now out of my log-on with…


  45. lorenzo kibler

    Being a senior (somewhat),whom has had the dna test ,LOL,I would love to sponsor a A program On a smaller basis here in the senior complex where i am Living, i imagine some would just love the discovery of past ancestors.Its A Great show and Name !

  46. i hope that this will encourage others to learn more about and value tiny pieces of our past which they may posess….. like a letter from a soldier or family bible record or an immigration record like a ships passenger ticket…. and perhaps share it on ancestry or the web in some way…. i’m looking forward to the show

  47. Tanya

    I think this program is going to be terrific. I look forward to catching each and every episode. Not because I want to know the background of these celebrities but because I love to see the expressions of a fellow human being when they learn of the lives of their ancestors. The wonder, the awe..isn’t that why we all do it??? I’m so glad there is programming on main stream television that brings my favourite pastime into the limelight. Everyone else has TV shows about their interests they love to watch. I’ll have mine!!! For all those neysayers…who cares how people find an interest in their history…just as long as they find it! If it takes this type of show.. by all means… bring it on!



  49. Maranda

    I agree with the post about adoptees being able to open their own adoption records as adults. I just recently found my sister and birthmother thanks to (and possibly another sibling that we were unaware of) but I realize not everyone is that lucky. My sister and I had a hard time finding each other because of rediculous state laws and we lost many precious years as a result. Where is the humanity in not letting people have important information about their families!! And our sister in question has to PAY the state to get her information…

    Im glad that services like exist and I hope they continue to improve with more information and help people. It would be nice if they would at least let you view peoples trees for free instead of paying $100+ dollars

  50. Dawn Wright

    I couldn’t agree more with the celebrities who said that this information made them feel and think differently about themselves. I recently began this genealogy adventure and haven’t stopped. I can’t believe the people who are my g-grandparents (+15 and +29) generations away from me. I feel so close to them now. I’m so proud.

  51. MichNative

    Knowing your past helps you to understand your future, I look forward to seeing every episode and sharing it with my family.
    PBS did do the Faces of America and they did it well, but tell me that there is no room for another program? There is no way the stories will be remotely alike, and why do we have to compare apples and oranges? They each are good even though they taste different.
    Stop being so judgemental and accept or leave behind what is being offered.
    Life is too short, accept or reject but always examine why you feel the way that you do.

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