Nice interview with Henry Louis Gates, Jr. in the Fall 2014 edition of NEHGS’ American Ancestors magazine.
The great news is that PBS, Ancestry (main sponsor), New England Historical Genealogical Society (main researchers) have agreed to do another three seasons of his Finding Your Roots! They’ve already got dozens of guests chosen and confirmed.
While I have a few issues with the show (research “shortcuts”, effect on professional clients’ expectations), I find it extremely interesting and well done. I’ve learned a lot, a good chunk to do with DNA. We’re even much more mixed up than I originally thought!
You’d surmise that a former programmer such as myself would have no problem understanding all of that, but not so. Programming is structured while DNA as a whole seems abstract in comparison. The DNA itself is obviously structured, but the interpretation…
Actually, genealogy and computer programming are similar in many ways. The debugging of programs highly resembles attacking a genealogical brick wall.
Mr. Gates also said that NONE of his guests regretted discovering their ancestry OR were sorry they were on the show. He was being very modest here, as I’m sure MOST of the guests have been affected quite profoundly by their experience.
Said Gates, “It’s been very rewarding. It makes me feel like Santa Claus, like I’m making it Christmas every day for the people lucky enough to be chosen as guests…”.
Researchers also feel that way upon finding a long-hidden genealogical gem. When we DON’T, it’s time to hang up the RootsMagic and try crocheting or stamp collecting.
You can check out Season Two episodes here…
Yep, just like unwrapping a present from “Skip”; as he is often referred to in the interview by NEHGS President Brenton Simons. They even did it where some of the show takes place – in NEGHS’ Treat Rotunda, which I’ve yet to visit. Because I’m usually running right to their manuscripts, microfilm or books!
I’m sure the main rush of being on the show is getting that ancestral information – all at once! As researchers, we tend to unwrap a number of small presents over a period of time, while Mr. Gates’ guests open up a giant one during the one-hour show!
Anyway, props to “Finding Your Roots” and the informative American Ancestors article. Henry Louis Gates, Jr. seems like a guy you could just hang out with, chatting for hours about genealogy.
And I’m still working on the concept of an Instant Connections game show, mentioned in my last post. It’ll be a combo of Love Connection, Joker’s Wild, Name That Tune and instant oatmeal. Uh, for the instant part. No takers yet, but give it time. I’ve got 11 years!
Well, if I can’t create game shows, I CAN research your family history, as I am… The Online Genealogist!!