In four weeks the third season of Who Do You Think You Are? (WDYTYA) returns to the American prime time television network of NBC. It is set for Friday evenings at 8 p.m. Eastern and 7 p.m. Central starting on February 3, 2012.
This show, which originated in the United Kingdom, has a celebrity embark on a journey of self-discovery as they attempt to uncover previously unknown information on ancestors in their family tree. Just like anyone else starting out on such an investigation, they begin with the known information, usually gathered from a living family relative or document.
For these celebrities it can be quite a quest and an awakening to see how their own family members might have struggled decades ago making it possible for that the person to achieve fame now. The notable individuals range from television stars, movie actors, sports figures, entertainment producers, singers or news journalists.
Full episodes are available online for the two earlier seasons on the WDYTYA web site. Season one had five shows and season two had eight shows. Make it a point in February to watch all the weekly episodes slated for this new season.
If you have not started your own family tree or it needs some additional work on it, use the four weeks before the new season of WDYTYA to jump start your own inquiry into a certain branch or specific ancestor. Many of the celebrities concentrate on one or two ancestors from a particular branch. From there, both you and the celebrity can learn some incredible details and previously unknown information, that in the end all can relate back to you the individual now.
True, the celebrities working with the show’s genealogical experts have all type of resources available to them and even travel to ancestral lands. You, at home, can also find most of the same information using the Internet, local genealogical societies, the Family History Centers and writing to the historical societies and public libraries in the hometowns of your ancestors.
Usually the most integrating finds for anyone seeking out their ancestors involve locating an object, a document, a photo, a newspaper article or any other object that directly related to that ancestor. Coming across a document signed by your great grandfather can capture the very spirit of that person and make them more than just a name.
So select one of your ancestors you have wondered about, just like the celebrities do. Begin with what is known; their name, birth year, death year and where they lived. Next go to any living relatives who might have known that ancestor and ask questions. Check anything written in a family Bible, old photos, journals or family documents.
By having some preparation ahead of time, once you start watching the WDYTYA episodes, additional ideas for research techniques will be provided. There is nothing like the present time to begin your own family quest. You can share in the same joy and excitement of discovery just like the celebrities on WDYTYA.