Posts Tagged ‘Tuscany’
Well I have to say that tonight’s show was definitely my favorite and actually lived up to what I was expecting from this series.
I loved everything about this show. The introduction at the beginning was just long enough to provide the background information we needed to know without putting us to sleep and she clearly identified her goals – she wanted to know what happened to Anita Rigali, her grandmother who disappeared when Susan’s mother was just a toddler. Armed with an old photo and some family stories she interviews her mother.
Susan finds out her great grandparents had several children but only 3 lived which is listed on Anita’s birth certificate – As I look through the 1910 Census I find that the same is listed there. It also states that her great grandfather was married previously which they fail to mention.
With the help of her youngest son, Susan undertakes much of her own research. Using Genlabs, she is able to locate where the surnames she is interested in are concentrated the most in Italy leading her to Tuscany. While there, she visits with local historians and goes to the church where her ancestors were baptized. Using these Latin records she finds she has deep Tuscan roots as she is able to trace her family back to 1640.
Once back in the US she uses birth, marriage, city directories and obituaries to trace Anita’s steps – and she does most of this on her own or with the help of her son- which leads her to Rockland County, a place only about an hour from where she lives. It’s important to note that Susan’s son suggests searching using only the first name and birth date of Anita to help track her down – nicely done!
She visits to the house where Anita lived, talked to neighbours and finally visits with Anita’ s nieces.
Susan’s ancestor was colourful but was no different from many we find in our own ancestry. The whole episode encourages people to research their roots and gives realistic exceptions of what one can expect to find or which resources one can use to help them. I hope they use this as a template for future episodes.
With the final two episodes of WDYTYA under way, I thought I should at least mention it once. I haven’t before because it seems like every time I turn around someone has either written, blogged or mentioned it. Talk about over kill. The series is interesting – it gives me an excuse to watch TV on Friday nights which is a nice break from housework, the computer and watching silly reruns of movies I have already seen at least a hundred times but it’s still not what I expected.
I feel the series, while good, is not geared to the average person. There is too much use of professional genealogists and jet setting all over the world. It also is misleading because so far, EVERYONE has had some famous or glorified ancestor in their family- which is not going to be the case for most people. Using actors as the main subjects is entertaining but allowing them into archives to handle old documents without the use of gloves or a pencil makes me cringe! Tell me you or I could go into that same archive and get away with something like that!
And because the shows are only an hour in length I find they jump over some important steps to how they arrive at discovering that all too important piece of family history. Instead of doing such a long introduction or a boring and pointless recap after each commercial, why not talk more about the sources used or the time frame involved in arriving to the outcome? The only time I have seen mention of any online source used is when someone logs onto Ancestry to look up a ship manifest. That’s great if you have the luxury of a laptop and subscription to ancestry from home, but if not, it is available at most libraries or Family History Centers for free. Or another alternative is the Ellis Island site if your ancestors arrived through New York and prior to 1924.
In spite of this, I do enjoy the show and I am happy that it has been picked up for another season. I only hope that they will eventually realize that there is so much more that they can do with the show to improve it.
Friday, April 26 – Susan Sarandon traces her ancestry to Tuscany, Italy
Friday, April 30 – Spike Lee traces his African- American roots.