‘Genealogy Roadshow’ Coming to PBS


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6a00d8341c767353ef01901ee6f600970b-800wiFrom Presidential progeny to felonious forebears, family secrets are uncovered this fall across the U.S. in PBS’ surprise-filled new series Genealogy Roadshow.

Part detective story, part emotional journey, the show uncovers fascinating stories of diverse Americans in Austin, San Francisco, Nashville and Detroit. Each individual’s past links to a larger community history, revealing the rich cultural tapestry of America.

Genealogy Roadshow features participants who have unique claims and storylines: two Nashville participants have documents they believe make them distant cousins of a famous 19th Century frontiersman and folk hero. A woman in Detroit wanted to learn more about deceased members of her Polish family and found common bonds she never knew existed. A Hispanic woman in Austin wanted to learn whether or not she had a connection to the “Daughters of the Republic of Texas.” Over the course of the series, participants will be reunited with family members they never knew existed, and other story lines reveal surprising turns and dark secrets, including one participant’s lineage that is traced back to a gruesome murder.

Genealogy Roadshow is an engaging, innovative program that reveals the bigger picture of our nation’s past, present and future,” said Beth Hoppe, Chief Programming Executive and General Manager of General Audience Programming for PBS. ”With a diverse mix of stories in each episode, Genealogy Roadshow appeals to Americans interested in learning about their family histories. And it proves that you don’t need to be famous to be remarkable.”

Genealogy Roadshow’s premiere season will feature participants who want to explore unverified genealogical claims passed down through family history, which may (or may not) connect them to an event or a historical figure. These four first-season cities were chosen as American crossroads of culture, diversity, industry and history, with deep pools of potential participants and stories. After potential participants in Austin, Detroit, Nashville and San Francisco nominated themselves, experts chose the most compelling stories and used resources in genealogy, history and DNA as well as family heirlooms, letters, pictures, historical documents and other clues to hunt down the truth behind the familial myths. The most compelling answers were revealed on camera to the participants before a local audience, on location at an historic building relevant to the cities’ ­ and the participants’ ­ histories.

“It is rare and wonderful when one can produce a show in which literally everyone is qualified to be a part of it,” said executive producer Stuart Krasnow. “PBS is the perfect partner for a show that celebrates the richness of the individual, and the differences between us that make our country unique.”

Major funding for Genealogy Roadshow is provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting’s Diversity and Innovation Fund, which supports content that engages diverse viewers and encourages the use of emerging technologies to reach new audiences.

The Genealogy Roadshow is a hit in Ireland, where national public broadcaster RTE commissioned the original format from producer Big Mountain Productions. “It just hit a nerve,” said Big Mountain executive producer Philip McGovern. “Everybody wants answers to questions about their own histories to help make sense of their lives today. We’ve had a lot of interest in the format internationally and are delighted PBS has picked it up.”

PBSGenealogy Roadshow is produced by Krasnow Productions. President and owner Stuart Krasnow is a longtime television industry veteran, having worked for all of the country’s top broadcasters in news and entertainment, as well as at numerous cable networks as a creator and executive producer.

4 thoughts on “‘Genealogy Roadshow’ Coming to PBS

  1. Ellen Apperson Brown

    Here’s a suggestion. Why don’t you do a story about John S. Apperson. Jr. and his unlikely journey. He grew up in Chilhowie, in Southwest Virginia, attended VPI for about two. dropped out and served as foreman for the construction of a branch railroad, and by 1900 landed in Schenectady, New York, where he became an electrical engineer. An avid outdoor recreation enthusiast, he climbed Mt. Marcy on skis (!), developed and promoted the sports of skate-sailing and ski-sailing, and introduced hundred of his colleagues to the joys of camping, especially in the islands at Lake George. As the years went by, he fought successfully to defend the NY Constitution’s Forever Wild clause, and fought to evict squatters on state land, report illegal logging operations, and form organizations that could go up against lumber interests and developers. He became friends with FDR, Al Smith, George Foster Peabody, William K. Bixby, Irving Langmuir, and Paul Schaefer…among many others…and achieved a certain kind of immortality by opposing the efforts of Robert Moses to build a parkway around the rim of Tongue Mountain, at Lake George. Many people remember him for his stewardship of Dome Island – and of his decision to buy the island when it was threatened, in 1939, and then to give it to the Nature Conservancy, in 1956, along with an endowment of about $20,000, raised by his loyal friends and supporters. This would be a great story for your project! And, I have collected reams of material to flesh out all the details!

    Reply
  2. Avon

    I think our commenters miss a point or two.

    PBS already completed the shows in this series. Unless it is renewed or something, there can’t be anyone from any other city than the four listed. Plus, a dead person would be no fun to watch on TV being told their own long-hidden truths!

    PBS its shows on different days (and at different times) in its different member cities. A date and time that’s correct for one city will probably not apply in another city.

    But none of this disappoints me. I’m all for a series that gets Americans to appreciate one another!

    Reply

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