Who Do You Think You Are?

For those of us working in the World Archives Project we often ask that question about the names we key everyday.  For example, Ernest Simpson whom I keyed recently from the Michigan Passenger & Crew, lists.


Ernest Simpson was a sheet metal worker born in London, England.  He was 5′ 51/2″ tall with brown hair, green eyes and a scar on his left wrist.  He came from Canada and was going to Flint Michigan.  That is all I had from the Michigan Passenger list.  But when I started a tree on Ancestry with this information I quickly found a 1901 Canadian Census record and a WWI military record on Ernest that gave me more pieces of the puzzle. 


In 1891 he immigrated with his family to Canada and in 1901 at age 13 he lived with his family in Kingston, Ontario, Canada.  His parents were Charles and Alice F Simpson and he had eight other siblings.  In 1910 he made a trip to Michigan apparently living there until returning to Canada in 1917 where he enlisted into the Canadian Over-Seas Expeditionary Force for WWI; he was not married at the time.  The Michigan Passenger list shows that he returned to the United States in May of 1919 to settle in Flint Michigan.  I’m sure there is more but how interesting to step into the life of Ernest Simpson for a brief moment.


What other interesting finds are out there?  Share with us the stories you are finding from the collections you are keying or even from your own family history.


Also, I want to share with you a new series called “Who Do You Think You Are?”   Ancestry.com and NBC along with others have partnered together to bring you seven episodes of heartwarming stories and family history finds in the lives of prominent celebrities.  The series is patterened after the successful BBC series with the same name that has been running since 2004.


I invite you to check out the NBC site and watch the video preview to give you a taste of what the show is about.  Then on March 5th, 8/7c time on NBC, take a break from keying, grab your popcorn, kick up your feet and join the rest of us at Ancestry while we walk a historical journey with celebrities such as Lisa Kudrow, Sarah Jessica Parker, Emmitt Smith and others.


Happy Keying! 




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Reader Comments

I am so excited for that progam to air. I hope it does spawn a series here that gets lots of folks adding family trees online. I know there are lots missing branches on my tree that I’d love to find!

I am totally addicted to keying in on the World Archives Project. It got me through 2 days of 20″ of snow.

I was keying a street directory for Elyria, Ohio from the 1950’s. Some of the people had their occupation or their employers listed. I came across a woman who worked for a company that is still there in Elyria and has since been bought by the large corporation that I work for now in California.

Living in the UK, I have been watching “Who do you think you are” from the beginning. It is very exiting to watch and teaches a lot about researching and what kind of additional records they are out there. Also the historical events at the time and how it effected the population.

At present I am working on the Luebeck Census 1851 after I found the 1845 exciting and realised that that all of a sudden a came acorss an awful lot of railway workers. I checked on the internet and found the timeline for the Railways in Luebeck. It was opened after the Census was taken later that year.

What I would really like to see is a program tracing the trees of “regular” folks, instead of always being “celebrities” who can well afford to hire researchers. How about randomly picking some Ancestry.com subscribers and having an expert research their trees? There are a lot of us who get “stuck” while doing this on our own, and cannot afford to hire someone!

My brother and I are both looking forward to this program. We would also like to see you pick someone other than just the celebrities to follow. There are a lot of us who are stuck and can’t afford professional help, so even if it isn’t us picked, it would be nice to see someone else in the same type of position being helped.

I echo the “regular people” aspect of the new show. The Ancestry community of subscribers and keyers are a small family too.

I agree with Dale, Kathy, and Patti – you should run contests or lotteries and pick random “regular” people to do this for! While I’m sure the histories of the famous people are interesting, us average joes could have fascinating histories, too!
(But I am looking forward to the series!)

Christine, what a small world it is. I wonder if you had a chance to talk with this woman and compare notes how surprised you would be in how different life working for this company is now and how many similarities there might still be.

All, I know how you feel wanting stories on “regular people”. Although Ancestry does not have a say regarding which individuals the show highlights, I recently read an interview with Lisa Kudrow, producer and Dan Bucatinsky the executive producer of the show. This same question was asked of them, they indicated that they have considered it and continue to think about it. Click on this link to read the full interview.

I just saw “Who Do You Think You Are’ featuring Jerry Springer, and his tragic family story of his Jewish grandparents and their fate at the hands of the nazies during WW2, if that show does not bring a tear to your eye, I’m sorry to say you have no heart, Jerry had a lot of tears to sheed very openly.
The show has been running in Australia for a couple of years and has featured some very prominent Aussies i.e. International celebrities & also local celebrities, over all a great series, anything that gets the next generation interested in this most rewarding hobby has to be good.

So excited to be watching “Who Do You Think You Are”. I have never been able to find out much about my family tree so I am hoping that the World Archives Project will help. I have an Apple at home but I key at work on lunch and when I need a short break. I am happy that I can make a difference even though it is probably small.

I am another who think regular people living daily normal lives should be featured. People in general find some of my own family history quite interesting–my grandmother was an Olympic hopeful for the 1914 Olympics, for what they called then “fancy diving” My grandfather had been a writer for the New York World (newspaper) and had been assigned to interview her for a feature article. (I have the article!)The olympics were cancelled, he went off to war, wroyte her from around the world (I have a lot of those letters, too!) He came home, they married… Anyway, the rest ofstory is quite intriguing as well.

This is the kind of story that would make a good movie! And who knows what I could learn about ancestors I’ve never even heard of–yet?

my grandfather was born in france, i have hearded many stories over the years, but none seem true, he came to america as a young teen,oryoung man, so who am i.