I recently discovered a television program that I love — Henry Louis Gates Jr.’s Finding Your Roots, which airs on PBS.

To the extent that it traces the ancestry of celebrities, the show is similar to TLC’s Who Do You Think You Are? which has long been one of my favourites.

In Finding Your Roots, however, Mr. Gates researches the lineage of three celebrities simultaneously. Some common thread — a shared homeland, for example, connects the three stories. Sometimes, he identifies common ancestors — turns out political commentator Bill O’Reilly and comedian Bill Maher are distant cousins.

The greatest difference between Finding Your Roots and Who Do You Think You Are? is that the former goes a step further, using DNA testing to verify search results achieved through traditional genealogical research.

Finding Your Roots, which airs Tuesday evenings (at least in L.A.), is in its third season. Since I somehow missed the first two, I’m looking forward to catching up. Past episodes are available online.

P.S. Since my great-grandmother was a Gates, I wondered whether Mr. Gates and I might be related. I couldn’t find a connection through WikiTree (yet), but given that both our Gates ancestors emigrated to the U.S. from Ireland, I suspect there’s a link there somewhere…

4 thoughts on “Finding Your Roots

  • February 1, 2016 at 7:02 am

    Excellent show, watch it all the time. He also had a series on PBS about Brazil, slavery etc. Always top notch.

  • February 1, 2016 at 9:07 am

    I love finding your roots and it has inspired me to do the Ancestry test to find out my dna, waiting for the results. I’ve also gone on familysearch.org to search my family tree although it is proving difficult. So inspiring that show. I thought Bill Mahr was going to be sick when he found out he was related to Bill O’Reilly. Pretty funny.

    • February 1, 2016 at 9:48 am

      Hi, Charlene. I’m glad you’re doing the DNA testing. I found it very interesting, and there are always a few surprises. 🙂


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