Date: Tue, 9 Mar 2010 15:20:44 -0700
Subject: First Who Do You Think You Are? Episode a Success
The tune-in numbers for the first episode of Who Do You Think You Are? are in, and they look promising! More than 6.85 million viewers tuned in to watch the show (including many of you!), making it the No. 2-rated show that hour.
This Friday – Emmitt Smith
This week’s episode is one you don’t want to miss. Tune into NBC this Friday at 8/7c as former NFL football player Emmitt Smith sets out to discover his slavery roots. In this episode, look for the Monroe County Courthouse in Monroe County, Alabama, and the Mecklenburg County Courthouse in Mecklenburg County, Virginia. Lisa Kudrow calls Emmitt’s episode “unbelievable” and the most compelling of the seven.
Check out the teaser to the episode featuring Emmitt.
Last Week’s Episode
For those who missed it – last week’s episode featured Sarah Jessica Parker, who learns that her 4th great-grandfather John S. Hodge was among the hundreds of thousands who tried to strike it rich by heading West during the 1849 California Gold Rush. Unfortunately, Sarah discovers John S. died soon after settling in El Dorado County, California. Sarah also pays a visit to Massachusetts and meets with researchers at the New England Historic Genealogical Society and Massachusetts Historical Society, who reveal that one of her ancestors was accused of witchcraft in 1692 during the infamous Salem Witch Trials. Luckily, Sarah finds out that the court surrounding the trials was dissolved just before her ancestor was accused, so she was never tried.
If you missed the episode, watch it here.
More about the Sarah Jessica Parker Episode
Interested in learning more about how the team of genealogists involved in the first episode located Sarah’s 4th Great-Grandfather John S. Hodge? Would you like to offer members of your organization or interested newbies a better understanding of the research process? Take a look:
Go-to resources: Census records, obituaries, published histories, more primary records
How they helped: Sarah Jessica Parker’s family tree presented a unique challenge – Sarah herself was certain her family was comprised solely of recent immigrants. Researchers, however, determined this was incorrect, tracing the family of her great-grandmother, Lillian Hodge, back to its early American roots.
Resource #1: census records
Researchers turned to census records to follow the Hodge family back through time. In the 1860 U.S. Federal Census, great-great-
Resource #2: obituary
Who was John Eber Hodge’s father? Researchers located an obituary for John Eber, dated 1908. His father, John S. Hodge, is mentioned in the obituary along with the note that John S. died on his way to California in 1849. Returning to census records, a John Hodge, who matches the description of John Eber’s father, is found in 1850 in El Dorado County, California. Occupation: miner.
Resource #3: published histories
But which is correct? Did John S. Hodge die in 1849 or did he abandon the family to strike it rich out West? Researchers focus on records about 49ers to learn more about the California Gold Rush. And then they strike family history gold: “We found a letter written by someone in Ohio to John S. Hodge, which had been published in a book,” says Natalie Cottrill of ProGenealogists, who appeared with Sarah Jessica in the episode. “One of my colleagues tracked down the original set of letters, which provided more details, including information about John S. Hodge’s 1850 death.”
Resource #4: more primary records
Estate and other documents further confirmed that the ancestral John S. Hodge and the California miner John Hodge was the same individual.
Why the discrepancy?
The 1849 death date is from a published obituary, not a primary source. Obituaries are compiled from information offered at the time of a person’s death, second-hand or even later. It’s likely that details in John Eber Hodge’s obituary were relayed by a friend or relative of John Eber, not John Eber himself. The person who reported the obituary facts may have relied on stories he or she had heard from John Eber Hodge, who himself had never met his father. Slight discrepancies in dates and other information are quite likely in secondary sources, which is why locating original records is so important.
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