Sunday, April 10, 2011

What I've learned from WDYTYA

The NBC television show Who Do You Think You Are just wrapped up its second season. It tracks famous individuals as they are paired with genealogists and historians to trace their family roots. I must admit that I really enjoy watching this show, despite some of the leaps in reasoning and proofs. There is something wonderful about seeing someone that is not a family historian or genealogist get excited about the same documents that would floor those of us that are avid researchers.

My family is full of farmers, small business owners and military veterans. There are no famous people, no one that will be remembered 100 years after they are gone. "Salt of the Earth" is what you may call my people. While their lives may not be exciting or fit to print (as I have found out much to my chagrin) it must be remembered that it is just these type of people that make the world go around. My farmers and businessmen and veterans and the women that supported them ARE the world. Famous people, criminals, all the individuals that make up some of the fascinating stories on WDYTYA are only a very small majority of the population. The television show does feature the stories of "everyday" people and for that I am grateful. It is those stories that are the most realistic and the most similar of the families of the viewing audience.

What I have learned from Who Do You Think You Are is that I should continue to celebrate the everyday-ness that is my family. Their lives were important and valid and it is up to me to bring them back to life.


Shelley said...

I agree, Heather! It's important to tell your family's stories--so what if they weren't famous? My ancestor chart is full of farmers, carpenters, and women "keeping house," and I really believe each one of them has a story worth telling. So keep on doing what you're doing!

FrustratedSue said...

My very first brush with genealogy was when I met a children's book that starts something like "My father's father's father…" and ends "They were not rich and famous, but they were strong and good."* (OK, mostly strong and good on the majority of our trees.) I think their stories are important. and I think it's wonderful to try to trace them.
* "And They Were Strong and Good" I forget the name of the Newberry award author. But this book is worth looking up to pass on to a favorite child.