30 August 2010

Kids: Disney Channel, genealogy and a song!

Genealogists are always wondering how to get kids involved in family history.

Looks like the Disney Channel will be helping out with our perennial quest with its new show - "My Family Tree" - set to air in November, which spotlights kids with interesting family histories, visiting relevant locations and speaking about their ancestors.

The Disney Fan Magazine offered a glimpse of the new series:
Genealogy and geography are set to come together in a new Disney Channel series to premiere in November. “My Family Tree” will showcase kids from around the country engagingly reporting on their interesting ancestors and roots.
Camera crews were in Marblehead, Massachusetts, with the Gerry family (Florida residents) who trace back to Elbridge Gerry, signer of the Declaration of Independence, Massachusetts governor (1810-1812) and the fifth US vice president (1813-1814).

He was born in Marblehead in 1744 and worked in the shipping business with his father and brothers. Heard the term "gerrymandering"? It was named after Elbridge and refers to redistricting to favor the party in power during elections.
The episode's star is his descendant, Noah Gerry, 12, who reports on various town locations for the show.

A quote from Disney spokesperson Patti McTeague stated that the children featured in the series all “have self-esteem and a gift of storytelling.”

The Marblehead Patch carried a more detailed story on the places filmed.

Among them were the Gerry School, Gerry Playground and the Gerry 5 VFA. They started the day near the Marblehead Lobster Company, with Gerry Island just offshore.
Noah also visited Elbridge Gerry's historic home on Washington Street, which stopped traffic and attracted many curious onlookers. Noah spoke into the camera, "This is our last stop. Elbridge Gerry was born in this house."

This week was Noah's first visit to Marblehead and it's not exactly what he expected.

"Actually, it's way more modern than I imagined," he said. "I had always pictured it with horses and wagons."

The Gerry family said they were surprised, and thrilled, to realize their family name is such a big part of Marblehead.
Noah's mother, Dr. Charlotte Gerry says the family has always known of their connection to Gerry, but "we'll go home now with a better sense of our heritage ... and with even more pride."

Noah caught the acting bug during a Disney show audition in Florida. He's appeared in several commercials and a sitcom pilot, and his sisters have starred in national commercials.

This isn't the first time Disney has ventured into family history. See four press releases here from back in 2000, when "The Tigger Movie" was released.

There's also a great song - "Round My Family Tree" - but I couldn't find the English lyrics on YouTube, so here's the animation with Finnish soundtrack. Still good for the linguistically-challenged. Should we be singing it at genealogy conferences?

Tracing the Tribe says to watch out for merchandise tie-ins, and suggests the following:

-- dolls that "speak" their ancestors' names

-- kid's sized toolboxes: mini microfilm readers, rolls of film, sets of "old" photos.

-- Fanny (or Freddy) the Family Tree - a stuffed warm and fuzzy tree toy

-- Sets of family tree equipment: "Let's Play Genealogy!"

-- Family group charts and pedigree sheets, with bright stickers and more.

There's a world of opportunities out there!


  1. Click here to see the English lyrics of the Tigger genealogy song


  2. Thanks, Heather!

    It was kind of fun in Finnish, but English may be better for the majority of Tracing the Tribe readers!