What a great beginning for the 5th season of Who Do You Think You Are. If this episode was any indication of things to come, this could turn out to be one of the show's best seasons.
Cynthia Nixon, of Sex and The City, was the first celebrity to research her family this year in the popular genealogy series. Maybe I am getting used to the fast paced genealogy research, but it seemed like this episode was a little easier to follow. Yes, I know, she traveled around the country from New York to Missouri in search of her ancestors - something most of can't afford to do and one of the major complaints of viewers. But, it is necessary to show what research opportunities are available in the various libraries and repositories throughout the country.
One thing I noticed was the research was easy to follow and covered many basics for beginning genealogists. For example: census records from 1850 on, marriage records, death certificates, military records and, cemeteries.
In addition it proved that newspapers are valuable tools for genealogical research. Social events, weather, local news, weddings, funerals, births, war casualties are all there within the pages of the local edition. And don't forget this is where you find all the misfits and scallywags in your family. Was there an abolitionist, suffragette, or prohibitionist in your family. Check your local newspaper.
Cynthia found that there were questions to be answered when she examined the census records for her family. Most census records are fairly basic: mom, dad, kids, and maybe an in-law or two. But occasionally there will be a census record that stands out as unusual. Like a few clergy with a bunch of young children. Orphanage perhaps? A couple with several men and women who have different surnames. A boarding house possibly. An older women with a bunch of young women having different surnames. Definitely not a boarding house. There can be many clues to your ancestors lifestyles buried in the pages of the census records.
The questions that Cynthia found in the census led to research in military records, court records, and prison records. It also led to a discussion of women's rights and the difficulty of researching female ancestors.
So once again we encounter "the dash". That period of time between birth and death. In Cynthia Nixon's case we found the life of a very strong female ancestor. Since it is early in the season and I am sure this episode will be repeated, I am going to leave it here without a spoiler alert!
If you want to see what happens you can wait for the repeat or check it out online. http://www.tlc.com/tv-shows/who-do-you-think-you-are
The next episode with Jesse Tyler Ferguson will air on Wednesday, July 30, 2014. 9/8c.