More than 15 years ago, science has gifted us with the possibility of using ancestry or genealogy research to investigate our family history. Fast forward to today, you have shows like PBS’ Finding Your Roots, which follows the journey of some of your favourite celebrities in uncovering their ancestral histories. But what exactly is this trend and why has it become so popular? It’s time to find out.
Genealogy research is the research into one’s ancestral history using both official and unofficial historical records. It involves a full-blown investigation and gathering of information from interviews and records such as birth and death certificates, directories, land records, military records, etc. All of this information is also coupled with family histories such as photographs, antiques, diaries, etc.
Benefits of Genealogy
Genealogy research offers a myriad of benefits. However, it has also now developed into a hobby or favourite pastime. As long as you are ready to do your own digging and are prepared for the outcome whatever it may be, the whole process can be quite addictive. Having said that, here are some of the reasons why you might want to do genealogy research on your own family history:
Discover interesting family stories
Probably one of the main reasons why people conduct genealogy research into their past is to uncover exciting stories. This is due to stories of people finding out that they have ties to royalty or not so positive stories such as uncovering your ancestors were slave owners. More often than not, stories that seem promising along the way turn out to have mundane endings. Nevertheless, it is the journey that makes for great fun and entertainment.
Another benefit of this research is to connect with relatives that you didn’t even know existed in the first place. Rekindling your relationships can be a good way to establish valuable connections.
Celebrity Genealogy Research
Genealogy allows individuals to personalise the past. To help them find themselves, or perhaps a deeper meaning of existence. And when it comes to celebrities, it somehow makes for great television.
In Finding Your Roots, host Henry Louis Gates, Jr. brings you on a journey alongside different celebrities in each episode. He presents them with the ‘book of life’ which consists of their family histories, connections, or other juicy secrets that viewers would love to watch on the telly. These aren’t just random information either but carefully researched by the show’s own professional genealogists.
Airing on BBC, Who Do You Think You Are is another genealogy documentary show where each episode follows different celebrities in unearthing their family tree. Some famous celebrities who’ve been on the show include Martin Freeman, JK Rowling, Sir Ian McKellen, Danny Dyer, and many more. Not only are the celebrities informed of their ancestral history, but the documentary series also follow them doing activities and living through some of their interesting past.
Having said all this, why are we so interested in watching celebrities find out about themselves? It’s simple, with reality TV shows popping up left and right, us viewers just want a sense that we are also participating in their journey of discovery. Somehow, watching them makes us feel closer to them like we have a relationship with them, and this gives a sense of self-satisfaction. In fact, reading about the list of celebrities above is probably also making you want to watch an episode right now!
However, while we love watching celebrities uncover their family histories, you can also embark on your own journey! You never know, what you uncover might even be more interesting than any of the celebrity stories you’ve watched.