NBC’s Who Do You Think You Are? A special connection for me

I remember his call. The excited voice was telling me about helping to research the ancestry of Sarah Jessica Parker and the privilege of meeting her. The results would be on a TV show and I have been waiting for this show since that call. The person who called me is a special part of my family and I call him a surrogate grandson. He is D. Joshua Taylor or Josh as his family and friends call him. I remember seeing Josh in Salt Lake City as a young teenager all excited about genealogy. Over the years this young man has become an important part of my life and that of many others in the world of family history. In January I got to meet his mother and thanked her for sharing him with the rest of us.

Josh is the Director of Education and Programs at the New England Historic Genealogical Society in Boston, and was formerly head of NEHGS’ Research Services.We have done joint lectures and he teaches in the course I coordinate at the Salt Lake Instittute of Genealogy. I serve on the Board of Directors of the Federation of Genealogical Societies with Josh.

Now we all get to see him with Sarah Jessica Parker on Friday, March 5th as the U.S. version of Who Do You Think You Are? debuts. WDYTYA features family histories of celebrities. It has been a smash hit in England for many years. When I was in Salt Lake City in early January I saw a preview of the show that was presented at an Ancestry.com dinner and now NBC has some info and a short preview on its website. 

If you would like to see and meet Josh in person, be sure to attend the Federation of Genealogical Societies 2010 Conference this coming August 18-21 in Knoxville, Tennessee. Josh will be presenting several talks at the conference which also features many other nationally known and local speakers.

Ancestry.com is involved in sponsorship (and some of the genealogy research) of the show. As Suzanne Russo Adams said in a February 3d press release from Ancestry:

“Stock up on the popcorn and get ready for the new NBC hit show “Who Do You Think You Are?” The family history-focused series will lead seven celebrities on a heart-warming journey back in time as they discover more about the ancestors who came before them. Lisa Kudrow, who executive produced the show will be featured in the episodes, along with Sarah Jessica Parker, Spike Lee, Matthew Broderick, Susan Sarandon, Emmitt Smith, and Brooke Shields. Ancestry.com is a partner with NBC on the show.

The idea for “Who Do You Think You Are?” originated from a show that has been phenomenally successful in the UK for several years. Since the show aired in 2004, the UK has seen a surge of interest in family history, and we hope and expect the same reaction from “Who Do You Think You Are?” in the United States.

Typically, celebrities play the role of someone else, however in this show they play no one but themselves. Because of this, “Who Do You Think You Are?” really shows the human side of these individuals, who experience a myriad of emotions as they learn their family history. Viewers can’t help but feel inspired and intrigued as they watch the episodes. Naturally, the show will lead viewers to begin thinking about and asking questions around their own family history.”

4 February update: readers have reminded me that there have been WDYTYA  versions in Canada, Sweden, and one for Norway is in the works. A quick online search also shows it or similar shows in other countries. I love this interest!

© 2010 – 2014, Paula Stuart-Warren. All rights reserved.

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