Israel: US-version of WDYTYA air times set

According to YES, the American version of “Who Do You Think You Are?” will air Thursdays at 11pm and Fridays at 7pm on YES Docu (channel 8).

Tracing the Tribe believes the Friday screening will be the repeat of the previous evening.

Set your recorders!

Israel: US-version WDYTYA to air on YES (not HOT)

CORRECTION: Tracing the Tribe indicated the news was on HOT, but it was on YES Channel 8 “Docu.”
Do I need more sleep? Yes! Apologies.

Well, well, well. What a surprise tonight!

In addition to learning that BBC will air the American version of “Who Do You Think You Are?” beginning April 25, Tracing the Tribe was also delighted to see the following announcement on TV tonight:

YES cable’s Channel 8 Docu advertised that the US version of “Who Do You Think You Are?” will be airing soon.

Tracing the Tribe will try to get a start date from the channel and inform readers.

Hooray! WDYTYA-USA renewed!

An NBC press release dated April 5 indicated that the American version of “Who Do You Think You Are?” (and two other shows) has been renewed for the 2010-11 season.

Read the complete press release here, but the relevant parts are below:

Who Do You Think You Are?” from executive producer Lisa Kudrow is averaging a 1.6 rating, 6 share in adults 18-49 and 6.8 million viewers overall in “most current” results for its season thus far. In preliminary results for last Friday, “Who Do You Think You Are?” won the 8-9 p.m. ET hour in adults 18-49, marking the first time any regular competitor in this slot has beaten an original episode of CBS’s “Ghost Whisperer” in 18-49 rating since November 17, 2006. “Who Do You Think You Are?” has improved the time period by 23 percent in adult 18-49 rating versus NBC’s average for the traditional 2008-09 season in “live plus same day” results.

Thomas MacEntee over at presents each week’s stats for the show.

Genealogists aren’t surprised by the ratings – we knew it would be a hit – and we are all hoping that the show will “bounce” interest in our passion and sometimes-compulsive interest.

Wonder who the celebs will be next season?

Now, if those of us based elsewhere on the globe could see the episodes, life would be even better!

WDYTYA: Library feedback and more

Our friend at Ancestry, society partnership manager Suzanne Russo Adams sent Tracing the Tribe some feedback received from libraries and how the Who Do You Think You Are? series is helping them.

Midwest Genealogy Center (Independence, Missouri):

We have seen an increase in foot traffic in our center. We usually don’t start our busy time of year this early. We have had lots of first-time patrons and are handing out many beginning genealogy materials. The television show is hitting people at an emotional level and they, too, want to find out about their ancestry. Our staff has spent many one-on-one hours with these ancestor hunters and has found it to be a rewarding experience.

Denver Public Library (Denver, Colorado):

Denver Public Library has seen a lot of foot traffic in the past few weeks. With the airing of “Who Do You Think You Are?”…our use statistics have spiked. Not only are many of our “regulars” excited by the program but there are many fresh faces coming in full of expectations.

Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Center (Ohio):

We had a meeting Tuesday night, and one member presented an idea about the “Who Do You Think You Are?” series…. An officer of the Seneca County (OH) Genealogical Society thought we could find 3 – 5 “celebrities” of our county and ask them if they would like us to dig into their genealogy…. After we get permission…[we] will do some research and track down what we can on each individual. Then we would have them come to a meeting of the Society and present our findings to them. We have already discussed this with the local newspaper feature writer and she was interested.

Tracing the Tribe thought this idea was particularly useful, and could be utilized by societies around the world. Ask a local celebrity to participate and get a lot of local publicity!

Suzanne also noted a change in the episode schedule. Here’s the new schedule:

April 2 – Brooke Shields
April 9 – Sarah Jessica Parker (Repeat)
April 16 – No episode
April 23 – Susan Sarandon
April 30 – Spike Lee

Here’s some info on this week’s episode with Brooke Shields:

Brooke Shields’ episode is the most royal of the series, taking viewers to New Jersey, Rome, and Paris. In the episode, Brooke seeks to learn more about her father’s aristocratic roots and to learn the origins of the “Torlonia” family name. Watch for Brooke’s visit to the New Jersey State Archives in Newark and the New York Historical Society.

Check out the teaser featuring Brooke Shields, and tune into NBC for the full episode on Friday at 8/7c.

Last Week’s Episode – Matthew Broderick

In last week’s episode, award-winning actor and performer Matthew Broderick set out to learn more about his father’s side of the family. Matthew begins his journey by visiting battlefield grounds of north-eastern France, where he finds out his grandfather served as a medic in World War I. Matthew is surprised to learn that through his grandfather’s heroic military sacrifice, he was awarded the Purple Heart and recommended for the Distinguished Service Cross. But Matthew’s military roots don’t stop there. On a trip to Connecticut, Matthew discovers his great-great-grandfather served in the Civil War and fought in the Battle of Gettysburg. The last leg of Matthew’s journey leads him to Marietta, Georgia, where he visits his great-great-grandfather’s grave site and also solves a 150-year-old mystery.

If you missed the episode, watch it here. [CAVEAT: The link doesn’t work if your computer is located outside the permitted geographic area of the US and its territories. See Tracing the Tribe’s earlier post explaining the limitations. Tracing the Tribe wonders if those in the permitted area can download it to a CD and send out the CD? Is there some sort of tech coding that would prevent such a CD from playing on an “internationally located” computer? Anyone up for the challenge?]

Suzanne also sent along more on Matthew Broderick’s episode and how the team of genealogists discovered his military heritage. Here’s some insider information:

Go-to resources: U.S. military records, U.S. Federal Census

How they helped

Matthew Broderick knew little about “Joe the postman” – his grandfather – at the start of this family history journey. But a conversation with his own sister provided Matthew with a valuable clue: their quiet, somewhat ill-tempered grandfather served in World War I and was said to have received money because he got “gassed.” What else could Matthew learn about this side of the family – a side that rarely mentioned its past?

Resource #1: 1919 military service record

Searching through military records at the National Archives in New York City, Matthew learns his grandfather was stationed in France and transferred to the medical department while there. But what did Joe do in the war?

Resource #2: Purple Heart citation and Distinguished Service Cross recommendation

On a French battlefield, Matthew learns more about his grandfather’s job in World War I – he tried to save people. Joe the postman was to go through the battlefields and attend to the wounded while waiting for the stretcher bearers and other medical personnel to arrive. Because of an injury sustained while performing his duties, Matthew’s grandfather was awarded a Purple Heart and recommended for a Distinguished Service Cross, neither of which Matthew nor his sister had known about.

Resource #3: 1910 U.S. Federal Census at

Matthew decides to take a look at the family of Joe’s wife, Mary, as well. In the 1910 census, Mary is living in an orphanage, another fact of which Matthew and his sister were unaware. Orphanage records explain how Mary’s father, William, died in a work-related accident. Were there more stories about the family that this generation could uncover?

Resource #4: 1850 and 1870 U.S. Federal Census

Matthew continues his search for this side of the family through the census. In 1870, great-grandfather William is living in the same house with his mother and siblings. But where is William’s father? Searching the 1860 census turns up no trace of the family, but the 1850 census does. In that year, William is living at home with both his mother and his father, Robert. What happened between 1850 and 1870?

Resource #5: Civil War enlistment record

The 1860s raise a red flag: Civil War. Was Matthew’s great-great-grandfather involved? An index of individuals from Connecticut who served in the Civil War indicates that yes, Robert did serve in the Civil War, and enlistment records for Robert go a step further, giving a physical description of him and his date of enlistment. Civil War service records and muster rolls place Robert in the Battle of Gettysburg, but that wasn’t the end of the line.

Resource #6: Inventory of Effects from Final Statements

An Inventory of Effects offers the final details: Matthew’s great-great-grandfather died at the Battle of Peachtree Creek.

Why didn’t the “gassed” story steer the research off course?

Matthew mentions at the start of the show that it’s easy to lose family history connections when you don’t write them down. But you can also lose the true stories to faulty memory and recounting, which may have been what happened over the years as the tale of Matthew’s grandfather’s military service became progressively fuzzier.

It’s easy to get hung up on the small stuff, but if Matthew had limited his search to battles in which Germans employed chemical warfare in World War I, he may have never discovered the place where his own grandfather was injured. However, using the “gassed” story as a starting point did trigger Matthew’s search into military records and helped Matthew make a very important discovery: that his grandfather was more than Joe the postman – he was also an American military hero.

Check out for materials you can use to tell others about the series.

WDYTYA: Matthew Broderick’s story, a caveat

Geneabloggers learn about each WDYTYA episode and the individual research process from Ancestry’s PR & Events Manager Anastasia Tyler.

CAVEAT:Tracing the Tribe reminds international viewers that although the episodes will be online at until September 18, 2010, the video links do not work for those outside the US and territories. Personally, we believe this is a very shortsighted NBC policy, when so many people around the world are interested in family history. Perhaps Anastasia might want to get involved in rectifying this situation?

The NBC FAQ clearly states:

Can I watch episodes outside the United States?

At this time, full episodes on can only be viewed within the United States and the organized U.S. territories of Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Another section reads:

Can I get NBC Direct outside of the United States?

At this time, NBC Direct is only available within the United States and the organized U.S. territories of Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. If you attempt to connect to the service outside these areas, you will not be able to download any new videos but you can download while in the U.S. and view it outside the U.S. until the license has expired.

And, in case you might have thought of asking someone in the permitted areas to download and send you the episodes:

Can I play downloaded videos on any computer?

NBC Direct videos will only play on the computer where the download request originated.

Here’s what she provided about Matthew Broderick’s episode for vicarious international readers.

Matthew Broderick’s first step in this week’s episode of Who Do You Think You Are? was to talk to his sister, who shared details about his paternal grandparents and started him on his journey. Information from family members can be priceless when researching family trees, but what happens when family members aren’t immediately accessible? That’s the scenario the research team faced when they started researching Matthew Broderick’s tree.

One of the fantastic things about the format of Who Do You Think You Are? is that the celebrities really are starting out with what they know. We watch them on screen learning information from their families or from records for the first time. Likewise, the research team started out only with the information that the celebrity knew.

A Common Ancestor
For Matthew Broderick’s tree, the researchers had the name of his paternal grandfather – Joseph Broderick – and a few other clues about Joseph’s life. Using these facts, the researchers set out to discover more about Joseph Broderick.

They quickly ran into somewhat of a brick wall. “When we started the research for Matthew’s tree, all we knew was that his paternal grandparents were Joseph Broderick and May Martindale,” says genealogist Krysten Baca of “We were quickly stuck; there were many Joseph Brodericks and not enough information to determine who the correct ancestral Joseph was.”

Don’t Overlook Anything
But Matthew was able to provide the research team additional clues – his grandfather Joseph Broderick was a postman in New Hampshire . The occupation was a small, perhaps seemingly insignificant detail, but in this case it broke down the brick wall. Immediately after learning this information, the team found a record for a James Joseph Broderick working in the Post Office in Manchester , New Hampshire .

This record matched Matthew’s tree in three ways: (1) the name Joseph Broderick, (2) the location of New Hampshire , (3) the occupation of postal worker. In addition, Matthew’s father was named James Broderick. Based on these pieces of information, the team hypothesized that James Joseph Broderick was the ancestral Joseph Broderick, Matthew’s grandfather.

Breaking through the Brick Walls
Focusing on this hunch, the researchers looked for additional records about James Joseph Broderick of Manchester , New Hampshire . The records they found matched the few additional details known about the ancestral Joseph Broderick and allowed the researchers to confirm that James Joseph Broderick was indeed Matthew’s paternal grandfather.

The records gave the team another brick-wall-breaking clue – an alternate name for Joseph’s wife. Previously the researchers knew her only as May; the additional records listed her as Mary. This information allowed further discoveries about Mary and her life before she married James Joseph Broderick.

Of course, Matthew’s sister held some of this information all along. But similar to many researchers’ experiences, sometimes research begins before family members can be consulted. “If this case proves anything,” says Krysten, “it’s that even the smallest clue could be the key to unlocking a family tree.”

If you missed this episode, you can watch it online at – but only if you live in the permitted geographical areas. Some have indicated that the episodes can also be viewed on, but that site is also unavailable to international viewers.

WDYTYA: Back to Belarus with Lisa

From Suzanne Russo Adams at, comes a detailed report on March 19’s episode on Lisa Kudrow and her search for information in Belarus and Poland:

Kudrow’s episode was one of the most riveting of the series, says Suzanne. In it, Lisa visits the small shtetl of Ilya, Belarus, where her great-grandmother was murdered during the Holocaust.

Lisa’s father, Dr. Lee Kudrow, always wondered what happened to Yuri, a cousin who had escaped to Poland and who told about Lisa’s great-grandmother’s death. Yuri was never heard from again.

On a visit to Gdynia, Poland, to discover Yuri’s true fate, Lisa is shocked to learn that Yuri was still alive! Despite the tragic history, there is a beautiful reunion between two families separated by the Holocaust.

If you missed the episode, watch it here. (CAVEAT: Unfortunately, the link only works in the US, and not in Hong Kong or Australia, where I most recently attempted to watch it via online links.)

Suzanne provides tips (additional comments by Tracing the Tribe are included) for those curious about how the team of genealogists for this episode found out more about Lisa’s Jewish family.

Here are resources to help newcomers better understand Jewish family history research.

Go-to resources: U.S. passenger lists, Yad Vashem,,

How they helped: Lisa Kudrow’s US family heard about her great-grandmother’s death from a cousin named Yuri who visited Lisa’s dad and grandmother in the late 1940s. Lisa’s research goal is to discover where her great-grandmother was buried and learn more about Yuri. Her visit to Belarus and online resources help her achieve that goal.

Resource #1: List of Jews murdered in Ilya massacre
Lisa’s family knew her great-grandmother was killed, but through a list of victims in Ilya, she sees the proof. Written next to her name are the words “killed and burned.”

Resource #2: Yizkor book: “A Tale of Struggling, Toil, and Tears,” by David Rubin
While visiting Ilya, Lisa reviews a translated Yizkor (memorial) book about the massacre of 900 Jews in March 1942. The town’s Jewish population came to an end that day. Lisa walks the same path her great-grandmother was forced to walk 68 years ago. At the gravesite is a memorial to the murdered Jews.

Resource #3: Passenger list
Looking for some positive news on her trip, Lisa turns her search toward the one relative she knows survived – Yuri – who visited her father in the late 1940s. An Ancestry passenger list shows a man with the same surname but the given name Boleslaw. Are Yuri and Boleslaw the same person?

Resource #4: Registry card
In Gdynia , Poland, Lisa sees Boleslaw’s city registry card. Yuri changed his name to a Polish name for assimilation. His wife and son are registered.

Resource #5: Phone directory
The phone director lists Boleslaw, who is still alive.

Weren’t Eastern European records all destroyed?
The records from Eastern Europe that Lisa’s family found aren’t uncommon. Although millions of Jews were murdered in the Holocaust, records did survive.

Are you following US Jewish lines? Follow step -by-step through the US, including census records, passenger lists, citizenship records, vital records and more at various sites such as Ancestry and Once you’ve found all the US records, then jump to European records.

Learn about your family’s towns and villages, immigration data and clues to other relatives.

Check out sites such as JewishGen for a town’s Yizkor book or its Special Interest Groups (SIGs), Yad Vashem for other Holocaust-related documents, Ancestry’s holdings,’s Holocaust collection (and other records), the Jewish Family History Collection, and, of course, Tracing the Tribe: The Jewish Genealogy Blog.

Never give up, and keep searching.

Summertime: Genealogy on the air

According to a Scottish genealogy blogger, the US episodes of “Who Do You Think You Are?” will be aired on the UK’s BBC after all US shows are screened.

Chris Paton, who writes Scottish Ancestry News and Events, reported on this earlier, indicating that the seven US episodes will be aired prior to the new UK 10-episode season.
He also notes that the US shows will be re-recorded by the narrator who does the UK show, and that some reorganization and editing will be done on each episode.

In any case, it means that 17 episodes will be running from late spring through the summer.

Paton also noted that another 25 episodes of Heir Hunters has been commissioned for BBC1 daytime television – those are set for winter 2010 or early in 2011.

For more information, read Chris’ post (link above).