Sharing Family History with Who Do You Think You Are?

Millions of people tuned into Who Do You Think You Are? last year to watch as celebrities discovered unique aspects and insights related to their family trees. Starting this past week, the series launched into its second season with an episode featuring Vanessa Williams.

Suzanne Russo Adams of, which is a major sponsor of the show, encourages genealogy societies to find creative ways to use show's popularity for recruitment purposes and to leverage the renewed popular interest in family history to invite more people to actively participate in the hobby.

In a recent letter to various genealogy organizations, Adams shared that during the first season "libraries, archives, and genealogy societies reported increases in patrons as a direct result of the show." FamilySearch joins the rest of the genealogical community in applauding the success of Who Do You Think You Are? and the wonderful opportunity the show provides all of us to initiate conversations related to family history based on common viewing experiences.

Some suggestions Adams extended to genealogy organizations include sharing enthusiasm about the series with others by inviting them to watch the show, holding open houses and workshops for beginners, and finding local stories related to family history to share with the media.

FamilySearch recognizes that many people around the world have been introduced to family history or have found increased interest in the rewarding and fascinating hobby of family history after watching Who Do You Think You Are?. We want to do our part to help beginners who feel inspired to learn how to trace their family trees and make discoveries in genealogy.

One of the ways you may want to help friends or society members take the next step and start engaging in their family history research is to make them aware of the vast resources available online at sites such as,, and dozens of other quality websites.

Even with these wonderful online resources, starting the journey to discover your family history can be a bit overwhelming. has recently launched a new family history YouTube channel to help people learn more about family history and how they can get started and taste some early success. The first short video of this new series on getting started with family history is now available on

More than 4,500 FamilySearch Centers located around the world also provide a great opportunity for people to get started with their ancestral research. These centers are satellite extensions of the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, where people can receive personal assistance, participate in training, and access genealogical records on microfilm or through digital collections available on the internet.

We invite you to share this video and the others that are forthcoming with your friends to help them on their way to having their unique experiences in discovering who they are.

Comments (8)

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  1. I should have mentioned that on one episode of Ancestors in the Attic one of the researchers visited the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah. They even showed the library on TV.

    Helen 07 March 2011
    1:15 pm
  2. I like to watch this show and find it very interesting. However, I also like to watch Ancestors in the Attic. This show takes ordinary people and researches to answer questions about their families. They have reunited families from here to their families in other countries.. On one episode a teacher gave as an assignment the name of one WW1 soldier whose name appeared on the cenotaph in their city to her students to research. The researchers on Ancestors in the Attic assisted with the research. Also, they talk about the documents they use to solve the mysteries and I have seen them doing research on line. They have traveled to the country where the ancestor was from and looked at the original documents. If you have never seen it you are missing out.

    Helen 07 March 2011
    1:11 pm
  3. The show is very good. I would like to see how the researchers found what they found - that would be more helpful than seeing someone weeping.(1) Where do you find such good researchers? (2) What would it cost an average person to have this done? (3) You make no reference to using the web for research and obtaining documents. mentions you favorably at their site - you could reciprocate..

    Barbara Lake Peters 03 March 2011
    12:57 pm
  4. I think the show should do a contest with The winner from the non-celeberity world would have their family tree done. I think that would be awesome

    Lynn Viveiros 27 February 2011
    3:24 am
  5. I love the show. I have a tree on ancestry and have also found other relatives through other public trees. Makes me want to know even more.

    Winnie 26 February 2011
    7:31 am
  6. The show is interesting, but most of us cannot get a personal appointment with the Library of Congress or some of the National museums, etc. These celebrities did not do their own research. did it all before the show ever aired. Some of the documents they were allowed to see are not offered to the general researcher. And the cost is a big factor for a lot of people. All the information is not online and you really need to travel to courthouses, cemeteries, etc. to really do your research.

    Patricia Marburger 17 February 2011
    12:57 pm
  7. Love the show Am trying to trace my Italian ancestry, but most info requires money.

    e 16 February 2011
    3:52 pm
  8. lousy home page now, cant find anything. who thought up this dumb idea of changing the web pages? Why promote If you want to start charging for information then by all means do so but have the info where people can find it.

    10 February 2011
    2:56 pm

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