Popular Genealogy TV Programs

April/May 2016 Update: From possible links to the accused in the Salem Witch Trials to heroes of the Wild West, PBS’ GENEALOGY ROADSHOW uncovers more family secrets in the series’ third season, which premieres Tuesday, May 17, 2016, at 8:00 p.m. ET and airs Tuesdays through June 28 (check local listings). Part detective story, part emotional journey, GENEALOGY ROADSHOW combines history and science to uncover fascinating stories of diverse Americans this season in and around Albuquerque, Miami, Houston, Boston, Providence and Los Angeles. Each story links to the larger regional (and often, national) history, to become part of America’s rich cultural tapestry. See a season three clip here.

PBS_Genealogy_Roadshow: GENEALOGY ROADSHOW’s professional genealogists Kenyatta D. Berry, Joshua Taylor and Mary Tedesco are matched with everyday people whose unique family claims are explored in each episode. Among this season’s mysteries: A man seeks to find out if he is descended from Boston’s key founders; a woman explores connections to an ancestor’s participation in the Manhattan Project; a couple hopes to recover the true story of their family pharmacy during Hollywood’s Golden Age; and a woman learns of her family’s involvement in the Trail of Tears.

Over the course of the series and from coast-to-coast, Berry, Taylor and Tedesco work with participants’ anecdotal clues, documents and family heirlooms to reveal surprising turns and incredible personal histories, filling in lost family details and in some cases, introducing them to relatives and other important people they never knew existed.

Albuquerque, Miami, Houston, Boston, Providence and Los Angeles were chosen this season as representative of America’s cultural crossroads for diversity, industry and history, as well as for deep pools of riveting stories. GENEALOGY ROADSHOW’s hosts and experts add color and context to the investigations, ensuring every artifact and every name becomes part of solving the mystery.

“Our third season of GENEALOGY ROADSHOW visits six of America’s history-rich cities and unearths engaging stories, dark mysteries and emotional reveals that link to the very founding of our country,” said Beth Hoppe, Chief Programming Executive and General Manager of General Audience Programming for PBS. “This series illustrates that no matter one’s culture and background, everyone is part of the diverse American story.”

Below are descriptions for each of GENEALOGY ROADSHOW’s six episodes this season. For images and screeners, please visit PBS PressRoom.

Albuquerque – The Old Airport Terminal
Premieres May 17, 2016 at 8:00 p.m. ET
A team of genealogists uncovers fascinating family stories at the Old Albuquerque Airport Terminal. A woman seeking a connection to a Native-American code talker learns that a missing branch of her family tree has been searching for her; a man is shocked to find out just how deep his New Mexican roots go; a woman finds out that her ancestor’s life was straight out of a Wild West tale; another questions her family connection to the explosive Trinity Test; one man is linked to a famous comic book heroine; and a woman looks to verify family lore about a connection to Pancho Villa.

Miami – History Miami Museum
Premieres May 24, 2016 at 8:00 p.m. ET
At the History Miami Museum, one woman suspects she is related to Pocahontas; another explores the mystery of her Cuban roots, uncovering her grandfather’s secret past; a man learns more about his Filipino heritage and the impact of World War II on his ancestors; the team reveals how the history of the tragic Tuskegee experiment changed a woman’s family forever; and a woman comes to the Roadshow thinking her ancestor was a villain, only to learn he was a hero.

Houston – Downtown Houston Public Library
Premieres May 31, 2016 at 8:00 p.m. ET
A woman seeks to find out if her roots in Texas are as deep as the character she portrays in her historical re-enactments; at the Julia Ideson Building of the Houston Public Library, the Roadshow team investigates the notorious Andersonville prison; a man wants to know if his African-American ancestors fought for the Confederacy in the Civil War; a woman uncovers her link to a prominent figure in Texas history; another learns of her connection to the Cherokee Freedmen; and one man traces his roots to the conflicts that shaped early American history.

Boston – Faneuil Hall
Premieres June 14, 2016 at 8:00 p.m. ET
At an iconic Boston landmark, Faneuil Hall, a team of genealogists unravels the haunting mystery of one woman’s ties to the Salem Witch Trials. Another woman seeks to understand her family’s connection to the historic orphan trains; a woman seeks to find out whether the Great Boston Fire of 1872 or the small pox epidemic claimed the lives of one branch of her family tree; for one man, the team researches a link to the founders of Boston; and one woman learns that her family’s remarkable route went from the Caribbean through Ellis Island.

Providence – Providence Public Library
Premieres June 21, 2016 at 8:00 p.m. ET
At the Providence Public Library, the passport of a woman’s ancestor reveals how her family survived the Holocaust and ended up halfway around the world; a woman discovers more about an African-American relative who served in World War I; experts unlock the mystery of one man’s Amish ties; a woman discovers how deep her roots run in the New England whaling industry; a Rhode Island macaroni company takes a woman all the way back to Italy; and one man’s search for his ancestor reveals a scandal that made headlines.

Los Angeles – Union Station
Premieres June 28, 2016 at 8:00 p.m. ET
A team of genealogists uncovers fascinating family stories at Los Angeles Union Station. A woman questions her family’s connection to the legendary Hollywood hot-spot, Schwab’s Pharmacy; another seeks a connection to one of the first African-American college graduates; a woman’s family tree is wrapped in a genealogical web that has captivated the Roadshow team for years; one man’s ancestor lived in the right places at the right times, finding himself connected to historic events and iconic companies; a woman discovers a scoundrel in her family tree; and a Roadshow host shares a unique insight on the Ellis Island immigration experience.

GENEALOGY ROADSHOW is proudly sponsored by Ancestry.

GENEALOGY ROADSHOW is part of PBS’ commitment to high-quality programming highlighting American culture, diversity, history and heritage, which provides viewers with a greater understanding of our communities, our country and our world. PBS history and heritage programs in the primetime schedule have included Finding Your Roots and other titles by Henry Louis Gates, Jr., The Italian Americans, Latino Americans and more.

GENEALOGY ROADSHOW is produced by Krasnow Productions. President and owner Stuart Krasnow is a longtime television industry veteran, having worked for all the country’s top news and entertainment broadcasters, as well as numerous cable networks as a creator and executive producer. Under his banner, Krasnow has developed and produced series in almost every genre of unscripted television. This series is executive-produced by TV veteran Carlos Ortiz, who has produced mega-hits for nearly every major television network. He brings 20 years of development and producing experience to the table and returns to PBS for his third season on the series.

April 2016 UpdateThe new season for the US version of Who Do You Think You Are? will start this Sunday, April 3, at 9pm Eastern/8pm Central Time.

The two-time Emmy nominated series WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE? returns this spring to follow more of today’s most beloved and iconic celebrities as they embark on personal journeys of self-discovery to trace their family trees. The series continues to deliver unbelievable stories from crucial moments in history, including a number of firsts for the series, such as a male witch hunt, and traveling to Portugal, Sweden and Ellis Island. Executive Produced by Lisa Kudrow and Dan Bucatinsky, the new season premieres Sunday, April 3 at 9/8c.

The series’ producers have now released a list of all the guest celebrities to be featured in the new series:

•Scott Foley finds a relative who risked his life for one of America’s founding fathers, and an ancestor who suffered unspeakably during one of this nation’s darkest times.
•Lea Michele nails down where her mysterious paternal ancestors came from, and learns of the dire economic circumstances they endured while trying to emigrate to the U.S.
•Chris Noth learns his ancestors suffered during one of the greatest catastrophes in American history, and a relative who fought in one of the bloodiest battles of all time.
•Molly Ringwald explores family lore of Swedish royalty which uncovers her ancestors’ harrowing lives and a brave woman who forever changed her family’s fate.
•Katey Sagal is shocked to learn of her family’s Amish roots, and digs deeper as she realizes the level of dedication to their faith.
•Aisha Tyler tracks down her 2x great-grandfather, whose story had been lost over generations, and uncovers an astonishing tale of a prominent ancestor whose struggle to keep his illegitimate son a secret made headlines.

Ancestry, the leading family history company, is teaming up again with TLC as a sponsor of the upcoming season. As part of the show sponsorship, Ancestry provides exhaustive family history research on each of the featured celebrities to help make discoveries possible and build out the story of each episode.

The series is produced for TLC by Shed Media and Is or Isn’t Entertainment, and is based on an original format created by Wall to Wall Media and Alex Graham. More information can be found at TLC.com/WDYTYA. ‘Like’ Who Do You Think You Are? on Facebook.com/WDYTYA and follow @WDYTYA on Twitter.

January 2016 Update: Finding Your Roots with Professor Henry L. Gates will start its third season on PBS on Tuesday, January 5. Gates’s lineup this season will include Bill O’Reilly, Shonda Rhimes, Jimmy Kimmel, Dustin Hoffman, Mia Farrow, Julianne Moore, Norman Lear, Senator John McCain, LL Cool J, Puffy Combs, Maya Rudolph, Bill Hader, Keenen Ivory Wayans and Gloria Steinem.

PBS-TV will premiere the third season of “Genealogy Roadshow” on May 17, 2016 with participants from Boston, Providence, Miami, Houston and Los Angeles.

Genealogy Roadshow stars genealogists Kenyatta D. Berry, Joshua Taylor and Mary Tedesco and features participants with unique claims and storylines.

Interest in genealogy appears to be at an all-time high, with a recent Harris Interactive Survey indicating that four in five Americans wish to learn more about their family history.

Roots of Faith

Catholic Life Television just announced a new genealogy TV program, “Roots of Faith Ancestry” last month. It will be hosted by genealogy experts Renee Richard, Judy Riffel and Leonard Smith III. This show explores our ancestral origins to help know more about who we are today. The first series of 11 episodes focuses on basic genealogy records and methods.

The episodes are available on the Catholic Life Television website at Roots of Faith Ancestry Website and also are available through Vimeo.com as well as through Roku.

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 hosts the popular series 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.

Finding Your Roots with Professor Henry L. Gates will start its third season on PBS on Tuesday, January 5. Gates’s lineup this season will include Bill O’Reilly, Shonda Rhimes, Jimmy Kimmel, Dustin Hoffman, Mia Farrow, Julianne Moore, Norman Lear, Senator John McCain, LL Cool J, Puffy Combs, Maya Rudolph, Bill Hader, Keenen Ivory Wayans and Gloria Steinem.

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 is an exciting and groundbreaking PBS documentary series that aims to reunite people from all walks of life with their past, present and future. The show 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.

The show, part “Antiques Roadshow” and part “History Detectives,” has genealogy experts Kenyatta D. Berry, D. Joshua Taylor and Mary Tedesco explore guests’ family history mysteries and legends. It’s shot in talk show format: We see an introduction to the guest, then the guest sits down with the expert and the expert reveals the truth behind the family story. A live audience (composed of both family history enthusiasts and hired extras) looks on.


Josh Taylor, (pictured above) a popular professional genealogist, is one of the hosts. GENEALOGY ROADSHOW will feature participants from several American cities,  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.

You can see photos from each filming event, which also included a family history fair with vendors, on the show’s website. Guests were cast earlier this year, after a call for genealogists to submit their family mysteries.

Taylor reveals the research strategies experts used to unravel family mysteries during the season in our on-demand webinar, 11 Essential Research Tricks from Genealogy Roadshow. It’s available in ShopFamilyTree.com.

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.


A 2014 episode included “The Disappearance of Glenn Miller.” As Glenn Miller’s musical career soared, he traded in his commercial success for a military uniform (pictured above) to entertain US troops during World War II. Then, on a foggy afternoon, December 15, 1944, he took off from England heading for France. His plane vanished over the English Channel. Glenn Miller was never seen again.

Since that fateful day, Glenn Miller’s disappearance has remained a mystery. Did friendly fire destroy the plane? Was Miller involved in espionage? Was he on a secret mission to end the war?

Recent discoveries including an intriguing entry in an aircraft spotter’s log give the History Detectives fresh leads and new clues to explore. Along the way, they learn of the unusual role Glenn and his music played in winning hearts and minds during World War II. Ironically, experts deducted his plane crashed due to the plane’s carburetor well known icing problem during the flight across the English Channel.

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 continued in July 2013 on The Learning Channel (TLC). 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.


2016 Season Series Info

The contributors featured in the 2016 season include:

Scott Foley finds a relative who risked his life for one of America’s founding fathers, and an ancestor who suffered unspeakably during one of this nation’s darkest times.
Lea Michele nails down where her mysterious paternal ancestors came from, and learns of the dire economic circumstances they endured while trying to emigrate to the U.S.
Chris Noth learns his ancestors suffered during one of the greatest catastrophes in American history, and a relative who fought in one of the bloodiest battles of all time.
Molly Ringwald explores family lore of Swedish royalty which uncovers her ancestors’ harrowing lives and a brave woman who forever changed her family’s fate.
•Katey Sagal is shocked to learn of her family’s Amish roots, and digs deeper as she realizes the level of dedication to their faith.
Aisha Tyler tracks down her 2x great-grandfather, whose story had been lost over generations, and uncovers an astonishing tale of a prominent ancestor whose struggle to keep his illegitimate son a secret made headlines.

Ancestry, the world’s largest online family history resource, is teaming up again with TLC as a sponsor of the upcoming season. As part of the show sponsorship, Ancestry provides exhaustive family history research on each of the featured celebrities, which is used to build out the story of each episode.

The series is produced for TLC by Shed Media and Is or Isn’t Entertainment, and is based on an original format created by Wall to Wall Media and Alex Graham.

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.

Season three 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.

Season four (2012) celebrities included the popular country singer Kelly Clarkson, 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.

Season five (2013) celebreties included Cynthia Nixon (Sex & the City), Rachel McAdams (The Notebook), Valerie Bertinelli (One Day at a Time), Jesse Tyler Ferguson (Modern Family), Lauren Graham (Gilmore Girls), Kelsey Grammer (Cheers, Fraiser) and Rachel’s sister Kayleen McAdams.

Season six (2014) episodes included Julie Chen, Josh Groban, Angie Harmon, Sean Hayes, Tony Goldwyn, America Ferrera, Bill Paxton, and Melissa Etheridge.

Season seven (2015) episodes included Tom Bergeron, Bryan Cranston, Ginnifer Goodwin, Alfre Woodard, and J.K. Rowling.

Updates courtesy of the show producers and Larimer County Genealogical Society.

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