Who Do You Think You Are? with Rosie O'Donnell

Rosie O’Donnell appeared on NBC’s Who Do You Think You Are? series last night. Sharing the journey with her brother Ed, the show followed O’Donnell as she traced her maternal line from Jersey City, New Jersey all the way to County Kildare, Ireland.

What prompted the actress and media personality to pursue this course? At age ten, O’Donnell lost her mother to cancer.

Starting with the names of her mother’s parents, Kathryn McKenna and Daniel Murtha, along with a photo of a woman she was told was her grandfather’s stepmother, O’Donnell went on a heart-felt journey filled with discovery.

Along the way she discovered that her grandfather’s supposed stepmother was actually his first wife and eventually ended up meeting new relatives she never knew she had, for the first time. Then, after tracking down additional records at the Archives Nationales du Québec (Quebec Libraries and Archives) and local church records, O’Donnell eventually traced her family’s heritage to Ireland where they suffered through the Irish potato famine while working under the auspices of Ireland’s Poor Law at the local “workhouse”.

These were certainly grueling living conditions that O’Donnell referred to as “like concentration camps”. Fortunately, due to two benefactors, her ancestors were able to escape and emigrate from Ireland to Canada.

Programs such as Who Do You Think You Are? and other family history shows on TV have grown in popularity over the years. Sharing Family History with Who Do You Think You Are? contains a number of suggestions for those interested in getting started.

Comments (4)

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  1. To the person who missed the show. You can watch Full episodes on the internet I do.....just go to NBC.com

    tkseven 07 March 2011
    6:30 am
  2. I missed the show but, have seen others. I think every series broadcast for TV is extremely exciting. Also, very much enjoy the series by Prof. Louis Gates. I got really interested in Genealogy when my granddaughter asked Who Am I ? Heck, I dont know and decided to do something about it. In less than a year I have researched 165 family members dating back to the late 1700s, including four countries. If it werent for family Search dot Org and the local genealogy society , Id still be saying Heck, I still dont know. Thank you family search - you have made it so easy, fun, educational and very much an important part of my life.

    Charles McGarvey 03 March 2011
    4:28 pm
  3. One thing the program did not tell you is that Rosie and Ed had not spoken in years and doing this story got them back to having a relationship again. I think that part of the story is as important as the rest, although, Rosie may not have wanted to include it in the program. I have Irish heritage and seeing the workhouse really made me sad because I know some of my ancestors were there at sometime or other.

    Judy Edwards 23 February 2011
    7:43 pm
  4. hey its fun on here

    spencrer 23 February 2011
    1:55 pm

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