Posted by Kristie Wells on August 12, 2013 in Who Do You Think You Are?

Zooey Deschanel knew her spitfire grandmother wasn’t the only strong woman in her family story. So on tonight’s all new Who Do You Think You Are? she sets out to learn more about the women in her past.

Her quest takes her to Lancaster, PA — a hotbed of abolitionism in the mid-1800s — where she discovers her 4x great-grandmother and her fierce devotion to the anti-slavery movement. In a story packed with courage, bravery and spirit, Zooey finds records, meeting notes and memoirs that reveal surprising facts about her family and her connection to some of the most important events in American history.

Watch this fascinating episode with all the strong women in your life. Tuesdays 9|8c on TLC.


Previous Who Do You Think You Are? Episodes from Season 4:




Kristie Wells

Kristie is Ancestry's former Head of Global Social Media and Online Customer Engagement.


  1. Vicki

    Ancestry is now using free public trees provided by American citizens to make them upgrade if it connects to for example England. What a disgrace. Glad I never gave my tree

  2. Jeff Record

    Good solid program. Zooey Deschanel showed an appropriate amount of aplomb and enthusiasm for the subject matter regarding her family’s ancestral Quaker ties, and to their participation in the Abolitionist movement. I enjoyed the use of local libraries and historical societies being demonstrated as a viable source of information for anyone (willing to look) to use in searching their family history. I like the fact that Zooey was working on an actual family tree line, much as any of the rest of us would. Though the program was little light in technique or method, one still got the feeling that actual genealogy was being done here. My viewpoint of this program might be perhaps a bit skewed since my own family shares common Quaker ancestry with the Deschanels as I share an 8 x great grand father, William Buckman, with this young lady. I appreciate her genuine interest in her roots, and hope she continues down this same road of family and of self discovery. Good program to view overall. It would be nice to see the celebrity have to work a little harder for the answers like the rest of us do. Miss. Deschanel is however a utter delight, and no doubt a credit to her heritage. Her grandmother is no doubt very proud! – Grade B

  3. LaVerne B. Lindsey

    First, I want to thank the producers of the program for the high quality of production and videography. The episodes are always excellently well prepared. I want to make one observation, however, about the series as a whole that probably will not be perceived as positive though I mean for it to be constructive criticism.

    I believe the selection of subjects and their histories is too narrowly focused on people who are descended from slaves, or who know they have U. S. Civil War Confederate sympathizers in their histories. Both of these events are sadly true to American history. They were also true in most of European history. However, most Americans alive today were not alive then and, therefore, not accountable for the “sins of their fathers” if, in fact, they are descendants at all of either of these phenomena.

    By trumpeting slavery and war crimes repeatedly in your programming, you are making progress in the evolutionary culture of this country worse, not better. Nor, are you advancing the causes of religion by dumping all this guilt on people who are not in a position to accept it any longer.

    I suggest that you broaden the selection of future subjects beyond this tragic era and try to focus more positively on occasion on family histories of people of diverse ethnicities and historical backgrounds who have contributed to the growth and development of America as the great industrial nation that it has become.

    Young people need positive role models, not brow beaters, in order to find their productive futures–and the nation’s.

  4. Annette

    LaVerne, there is not one person of color as a guest on WDYTYA this season. There have been in the past, but for some reason no one was selected for this year. I think we need more diversity on this program — Asian, Hispanic, as well as African-American. It can be difficult to find information on non-European ancestors, or on people whose families just arrived in North America a few generations ago. I am working on a tree that is on the family of a man, born in Mexico before WW I, who was a close friend of my parents — he died in 1941 in his early 30’s, and due to common names, and the year the family immigrated to CA, it is hard to know if the data is for the correct family.

  5. observer

    I enjoyed this episode. I wasn’t born there, but I grew up in Lancaster. A couple of notes for anyone reading this:

    1. The Lancaster Historical Society is located right next door to Wheatland, home of James Buchanan the president right before Abraham Lincoln. When Zooey is standing outside, at one point, you can see one of the small outbuildings on the Wheatland property.

    2. Thaddeus Stevens lived and practiced law in Lancaster at that time. Although not a Quaker, most of us are well aware of him from the movie Lincoln.

    3. The Christiana “Riot” still reverberates through the county. The Klan was active there well into the twentieth century.

    It has always perplexed me why Thaddeus Stevens came to Lancaster considering the mindset back then – as evidenced in the wholesale reign of terror after the Christiana Riot. It’s one of the reasons that I admire him the more I learn about the times in the place that he chose to settle.

    All in all a good episode of WDYTYA.

  6. Janice

    I enjoy this show. So far I think the best story was Christina Applegate’s. At first I thought, about last night’s episode, well it’s not uncommon for people to have ancestors who were Quakers. And that lots of whites didn’t approve of slavery and tried to solve the problem on their own and help people. Anyway, it turned out to be an interesting story for Zooey.

    But I have a suggestion for Ancestry (don’t know where to submit it!). I have a truly unbelievable story about one of my ancestors (and I’m sure many amateur genealogists have found some as well) that makes some of the episodes look like …. well, let’s just say I think the story I found on my great-grandfather is quite amazing – and unbelievable and the story isn’t over yet. Ancestry should do a TV show on the discoveries their customers have made on Ancestry!!! And I’m volunteering right now to share my story!

    Is anyone else interested in this idea? Would people watch (being that we’re not celebrities)???

  7. Karen

    LaVerne, a clear-eyed acknowledgement of slavery and its immense impact on our great nation does not equate to “trumpeting slavery”, nor does it somehow impede the “progress” that has been made within the past 40-50 years. On the contrary, only by fully understanding our past, as tragic and horrific as some aspects of it may be, can we insure continued progress and productivity as a nation. There are millions of people descended from enslaved people of African descent, both black Americans and—quiet as its kept–many white Americans also. The monumental achievements of the descendants of enslaved Africans often go unacknowledged and their considerable contributions to this nation aren’t widely known. I see no more positive role models for our youth—of all races/ethnicities—than the sacrifices, contributions and achievements of black Americans—the descendants of slaves—who against all odds have contributed so much to this nation.

  8. Jeff Record

    As a white male in his mid 50’s I look forward to any stories of interest regardless of anyone’s ethnicity. Concentrating on any race, creed, or color is boorish. I look forward to any celebrity’s story -regardless of any of those factors – who might genuinely desire to trace their ancestry to the New World, or the Old World, to a scientist who made a difference, to a Native American chieftain, or to any person of note – or not of note – who made a difference in the lives of others. I have to agree that Christina Applegate’s story was the best so far. I must admit too that I am a bit weary of the Civil War trumpets that still seem to be re-sounding this season – regardless of my own Quaker background. That being said, these celebrities don’t necessarily have to be “people of color” to be interesting or not. They just have to be interesting and involved in real genealogical work. As an aside, the celebrities in any given season didn’t choose their ancestors anymore than the rest of us did. I for one need to keep that in mind.

  9. Megan Cullen

    Missed the show. Wanted to watch the full episode on TLC. Not available; now you have to pay to watch it on amazon! Not a good move by or TLC. Will not watch show any more. Just not worth the hassle. I pay for internet, I pay for TV, I pay for ancestry and now I have to pay again to watch a show that I missed in this day and age? really, really bad.

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