Thoughts About the First Episode – Second Season – of “Who Do You Think You Are?”

Vanessa Williams & Natalie Cottrill I’ve been looking forward to last Friday evening for quite a while. That was the scheduled evening for the second season of NBC’s Who Do You Think You Are? to begin. Granted, I wasn’t necessarily looking forward to that specific program, but just the start of the second season of the series. I’ll admit to the fact that being a hard-core country music fan, the episode that got me charged up the most is the one coming up next Friday featuring Tim McGraw. However, last Friday’s episode featuring Vanessa Williams was one I’m certainly glad I didn’t miss.

The 1-hour program highlighted Ms. Williams delight with finding out about her family’s past and learning that she had ancestors who were very much involved in breaking the “color” barrier. They even married interracially, fought in the Civil War, and her second great-grandfather even stayed on in the South with the Army to get the word out to the freed slaves that they actually were free. A tin type photo of her civil war ancestor was found in her second great-grandfather’s pension file – a very unusual find. She also found that education was important within her family for a number of generations. Her parents were teachers, but she found that teaching went back much further than that… All in all, Ms. Williams seemed to be pretty pleased with the discoveries that were made.

I noted that Natalie Cottrill, of ProGenealogists (now owned by, had an appearance in the episode. In season one, none of the ProGenealogists folks were on film at all that I remember – although they did a lot of the research for the series.

Although there is never enough time in a one-hour program to lay out the research process, I thought that the episode did a decent job of pointing out quite a number of different types of research sources, and giving an inkling into the research process. The major complaint that I’ve heard about Who Do You Think You Are? is the lack of a step-by-step outline of how the genealogy research is done. We all know that this just isn’t possible, as the program is limited in time, and MUST be entertaining, not just educational. However, I think the episode was just that – and very entertaining besides. My first comment to Patty at the end of the program Friday evening was that I thought it was “very well produced.” It’s obvious that a lot of work went into this thing. Lisa Kudrow can be very proud…

If you missed the program on Friday, you can still watch it at the Who Do You Think You Are? website. In fact, even if you saw it Friday, watching it online can be worthwhile. I just watched it again, and enjoyed every minute.

Now we wait for the Tim McGraw episode… Can’t hardly wait!

2 thoughts on “Thoughts About the First Episode – Second Season – of “Who Do You Think You Are?”

  1. I don’t remember hearing Ms. Williams thank any of the historians or genealogist for the work they had done on her behalf. Hopefully this was because of editing, and not a lack of gratitude.

  2. I’ve really enjoyed the first 2 shows but would really love to see a common person on one of the shows(non celebrity) The average person can’t go flying around the country searching.

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