Popular Genealogy TV Programs

November 2013 Update Several existing TV series including ‘WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE’ (see bottom listing) series on cable channel ‘The Learning Channel’ will continue next year with new entertainment and sports stars giving their ancestor stories. You can watch reruns of WDYTYA on their website listed below. Stay tuned for more updates!

Family Tree

Written and created by Christopher Guest and Jim Piddock, this new comedy series FAMILY TREE is a single-camera, documentary-style show. Chris O’Dowd (from ‘Bridesmaids’) stars as Tom Chadwick in the HBO presentation, along with Tom Bennett and Nina Conti. The series also features appearances by Carrie Aizley, Bob Balaban, Ed Begley, Jr., Maria Blasucci, Matt Griesser, Christopher Guest, Don Lake, Michael McKean, Lisa Palfrey, Jim Piddock, Kevin Pollak, Amy Seimetz, Meera Syal, Ashley Walters and Fred Willard.

Having recently lost his job and his girlfriend, 30-year-old Tom Chadwick has a rather unsure sense of his own identity. But when he inherits a mysterious box of belongings from a great aunt he never met, Tom starts investigating his lineage and uncovers a whole world of unusual stories and characters, acquiring a growing sense of who he and his real family are. Be sure to watch this new series on HBO on Sunday nights at 8:30 pm MT.

You can watch Family Tree past series on the HBO website at HBO Family Tree Website

Finding Your Roots


Finding Your Roots with Dr. Henry Louis Gates, Jr., is a PBS-TV series that explores race, culture and identity through genealogy and genetics. PBS-TV hosted the popular series in 2012 with Dr. Henry Louis Gates Jr., host of the network’s past genealogy programs: African American Lives I & II, Oprah’s Roots, and Faces of America (see below), is rumored to be hosting another new genealogy program later this year.

Past guests included Kevin Bacon, Cory Booker, Margaret Cho, Henry Connick Jr., Maggie Gyllenhaal, Sanjay Gupta, Martha Stewart (pictured above), Robert Downey Jr. (pictured above), Samuel Jackson, John Legend, Condolezza Rice, Kyra Sedgwick, Ruth Simmons, Wanda Sykes, and Barbara Walters.

Viewers can watch past episodes of Finding Your Roots on PBS-TV at Visit Finding Your Roots Website>

Faces of America

Dr. Gates presented 12 celebrities in his popular 2010 PBS-TV program, The Faces of America. Viewers can visit the webpage of this program at The Faces of America Webpage. Viewers can watch the videos of this popular series on the different celebrities for FREE. The celebrities included professor and poet Elizabeth Alexander, chef Mario Batali, comedian Stephen Colbert, novelist Louise Erdrich, journalist Malcolm Gladwell, actress Eva Longoria, musician Yo-Yo Ma, director Mike Nichols, Her Majesty Queen Noor, television host/heart surgeon Dr. Mehmet Oz, actress Meryl Streep, and figure skater Kristi Yamaguchi. Viewers can purchase the TV series DVD on their website.

Professor Gates is Editor-in-Chief of TheRoot.com, a daily online magazine focusing on issues of interest to the African American community and written from an African American perspective, and the Oxford African American Studies Center, the first comprehensive scholarly online resource in the field of African American and Africana Studies. He is co-editor, with K. Anthony Appiah, of Africana: The Encyclopedia of the African and African American Experience. With Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham, he is the co-editor of the eight-volume biographical encyclopedia African American Lives (Oxford, 2008).

Genealogy Roadshow

GENEALOGY ROADSHOW will combine history and science to uncover the fascinating stories of diverse Americans. Each individual’s past will link to a larger community history, revealing the rich cultural tapestry of America. GENEALOGY ROADSHOW will air Mondays, September 23-October 14, 7:00 p.m. MT.

GENEALOGY ROADSHOW’s premiere season will feature participants from four American cities — Nashville, Austin, Detroit and San Francisco — who want to explore unverified genealogical claims, passed down through family history, that may (or may not) connect them to an event or a historical figure. These cities were chosen as American crossroads of culture, diversity, industry and history, with deep pools of potential participants and stories. THE GENEALOGY ROADSHOW has been a hit in Ireland, where Everybody wants answers to questions about their own histories to help make sense of their lives today.

Select this link at Genealogy Roadshow Website.

History Detectives

Per Wikipedia, History Detectives is a documentary television series on PBS that started in 2003. A group of researchers help people to seek answers to various historical questions they have, usually centering around a family heirloom, an old house or other historic object or structure. It devotes itself “to exploring the complexities of historical mysteries, searching out the facts, myths and conundrums that connect local folklore, family legends and interesting objects.

Each segment begins with a brief introduction and then shows the “detective” meeting with a person who has brought the case to their attention. The cases always revolve around a physical object which is supposedly related in some manner to American history. Usually these are family heirlooms of some type, although occasionally they are public objects or landmarks or items owned by private archives or museums. The person presenting them with the case then shows the investigator the item in question and relates their understanding of how this item is connected to American history. Often this involves some element of folk history which has been handed down as family or local lore.

The History Detectives series runs during the summer through the fall on PBS-TV. You can watch past episodes on their History Detectives website.

Who Do You Think You Are?

Who Do You Think You Are? is an American genealogy documentary series that premiered on NBC-TV in 2010 and continues on The Learning Channel starting in July 2013. The show is an adaptation of the British series of the same name, aired by the BBC. Each week a celebrity goes on a journey to trace his or her family tree. Lisa Kudrow and Dan Bucatinsky are executive producers for the series, which is a partnership between TLC, Shed Entertainment, and Ancestry.com.

2013 Season Series Info

Although NBC-TV dropped this series in 2012, the good news is the Learning Channel (cable or website access) will broadcast this popular TV series in 2013! Several celebrities including the popular country singer Kelly Clarkson (pictured above), actors Chris O’Donnell and Jim Parsons, super model Cindy Crawford, comedian and talk show host Chelsea Handler, and actresses Christina Applegate and Zooey Deschanel will tell their ancestor stories in 2013. Ancestry.com is again one of the sponsors.

Per Dick Eastman on July 9: The next television program will feature songstress Kelly Clarkson. Clarkson’s ancestry is a mix of Greek, German, and Irish. However, she considers herself to be “mostly Greek” and she even speaks the language fluently. Most of the shows feature the guest celebrity returning to their ancestral homeland so it should be interesting watching her speak Greek, assuming she does visit Greece.

From roots in the Deep South to the slums of New Jersey, “Who Do You Think You Are?” follows the journeys of some of the most well-known names in American popular culture as they reveal unknown details about themselves and their families. Each episode takes an emotional journey and discovers amazing details about a family trees’ deep roots.

“I’ve never stopped hearing about how much people love Who Do You Think You Are? and I’ve always known that we’ve had more great stories to share,” said Lisa Kudrow, Executive Producer in a press release. “TLC is a great home for the series, and we join our excited celebrity participants as we unearth some amazing background and surprising histories.”

You can visit the TLC WDYTYA website at TLC WDYTYA Website for more info and watch past episodes.

WDYTYA History

Season one celebrities in 2010 included celebrities Sarah Jessica Parker, Emmitt Smith, Lisa Kudrow, Matthew Broderick, Brooke Shields, Susan Saradon, and Spike Lee. Season two celebrities in 2011 included Vanessa Williams, Tim McGraw, Rosie O’Donnell, Kim Cattrall, Lionel Ritchie, Steve Buscemi, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Ashley Judd. The third season featured celebrities Edie Falco, Helen Hunt, Blair Underwood, Martin Sheen, Reba McEntire, Rashida Jones, Rob Lowe, Marisa Tomei, Rita Wilson, Jason Sudeikis, Jerome Bettis, and Paula Deen. The series executive producers are Lisa Kudrow and Dan Bucatinsky.