31 March 2010

WDYTYA: Matthew Broderick's story, a caveat

Geneabloggers learn about each WDYTYA episode and the individual research process from Ancestry's PR & Events Manager Anastasia Tyler.

CAVEAT:Tracing the Tribe reminds international viewers that although the episodes will be online at NBC.com until September 18, 2010, the video links do not work for those outside the US and territories. Personally, we believe this is a very shortsighted NBC policy, when so many people around the world are interested in family history. Perhaps Anastasia might want to get involved in rectifying this situation?

The NBC FAQ clearly states:

Can I watch episodes outside the United States?

At this time, full episodes on NBC.com can only be viewed within the United States and the organized U.S. territories of Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Another section reads:

Can I get NBC Direct outside of the United States?

At this time, NBC Direct is only available within the United States and the organized U.S. territories of Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. If you attempt to connect to the service outside these areas, you will not be able to download any new videos but you can download while in the U.S. and view it outside the U.S. until the license has expired.
And, in case you might have thought of asking someone in the permitted areas to download and send you the episodes:
Can I play downloaded videos on any computer?

NBC Direct videos will only play on the computer where the download request originated.
Here's what she provided about Matthew Broderick's episode for vicarious international readers.

Matthew Broderick’s first step in this week’s episode of Who Do You Think You Are? was to talk to his sister, who shared details about his paternal grandparents and started him on his journey. Information from family members can be priceless when researching family trees, but what happens when family members aren’t immediately accessible? That’s the scenario the research team faced when they started researching Matthew Broderick’s tree.

One of the fantastic things about the format of Who Do You Think You Are? is that the celebrities really are starting out with what they know. We watch them on screen learning information from their families or from records for the first time. Likewise, the research team started out only with the information that the celebrity knew.

A Common Ancestor
For Matthew Broderick’s tree, the researchers had the name of his paternal grandfather – Joseph Broderick – and a few other clues about Joseph’s life. Using these facts, the researchers set out to discover more about Joseph Broderick.

They quickly ran into somewhat of a brick wall. “When we started the research for Matthew’s tree, all we knew was that his paternal grandparents were Joseph Broderick and May Martindale,” says genealogist Krysten Baca of Ancestry.com. “We were quickly stuck; there were many Joseph Brodericks and not enough information to determine who the correct ancestral Joseph was.”

Don’t Overlook Anything
But Matthew was able to provide the research team additional clues – his grandfather Joseph Broderick was a postman in New Hampshire . The occupation was a small, perhaps seemingly insignificant detail, but in this case it broke down the brick wall. Immediately after learning this information, the team found a record for a James Joseph Broderick working in the Post Office in Manchester , New Hampshire .

This record matched Matthew’s tree in three ways: (1) the name Joseph Broderick, (2) the location of New Hampshire , (3) the occupation of postal worker. In addition, Matthew’s father was named James Broderick. Based on these pieces of information, the team hypothesized that James Joseph Broderick was the ancestral Joseph Broderick, Matthew’s grandfather.

Breaking through the Brick Walls
Focusing on this hunch, the researchers looked for additional records about James Joseph Broderick of Manchester , New Hampshire . The records they found matched the few additional details known about the ancestral Joseph Broderick and allowed the researchers to confirm that James Joseph Broderick was indeed Matthew’s paternal grandfather.

The records gave the team another brick-wall-breaking clue – an alternate name for Joseph’s wife. Previously the researchers knew her only as May; the additional records listed her as Mary. This information allowed further discoveries about Mary and her life before she married James Joseph Broderick.

Of course, Matthew’s sister held some of this information all along. But similar to many researchers’ experiences, sometimes research begins before family members can be consulted. “If this case proves anything,” says Krysten, “it’s that even the smallest clue could be the key to unlocking a family tree.”

If you missed this episode, you can watch it online at www.nbc.com/who-do-you-think-you-are - but only if you live in the permitted geographical areas. Some have indicated that the episodes can also be viewed on http://www.hulu.com/, but that site is also unavailable to international viewers.


  1. Bernie from Australia4:02 AM

    Try www.casttv.com

    Do a search on "Who....Are".

  2. Hi, Bernie. Sorry but casttv.com takes their videos from Hulu.com, which is NOT available from outside the USA.

    Believe me, I've tried everything!

    Thanks for the suggestion.