12 January 2011

WDYTYA: Second NBC season starts February 4

Who Do You Think You Are? starts its second NBC season on Friday, February 4.

The original UK series spawned an entire genealogy-to-the-masses industry, and we may be well on our way on this side of the pond as well.

Most US-based genealogists believe the family history craze began here after Roots was published and then aired as a television series. It gave us hope that we could also investigate our own unique families.

The first season spurred awareness in the US, and the second season should continue the process of encouraging viewers to think about their own family histories.

The show only shows the results, so viewers are looking for help in how they can also find relevant information. Across the US, many viewers contacted their local libraries, archives and genealogy societies. 

Many geneabloggers discussed the ramifications of the American version of the show before it aired. Many of us made the point that on-the-ground local societies could receive the benefits by providing information to those who came knocking at their door for information.

A review of geneablog posts and Ancestry.com's own communications indicate several tips to build on the popularity of the show.

These include: 

  • A society open house or beginners' workshop. While the majority of viewers may be newcomers, even experts and seasoned researchers found important information in certain episodes. Ancestry suggests that societies invite their members, community and local media to an open house during the premiere.  
  • Contact local media. Talk to local newspapers and TV stations about how people can get started and how your society can help. One idea might be to research the ancestry of a local newsperson. The San Antonio Genealogical and Historical Society indicated that their local NBC affiliate publicized their event, filmed the society's library and conducted live interviews at two news slots.  
  • Encourage members to spread the word. Those who are already passionate about family history and the most enthusiastic are often the best spokespersons. use Facebook, Twitter and blogs to llet people know about activities in conjunction with the new series.
  • Prepare materials for beginners. Create a one-page “Getting Started in Family History” handout to handout through your group or activity. Encourage your local library to distribute a flyer or guide for their patrons and/or on their websites. And let people know via social media about the guide and where to get a copy. 
  • Why should newcomers join your group? Planning a special event, offering workshops, media interviews, and other community events will provide interested audiences who will be receptive to an intro to your society and how it can help them. What about offering a limited-time membership discount?
  • Brainstorm ideas with your society. How can your group increase local interest in the show as well as your society?  
According to a communication from Ancestry.com:
All in all, “Who Do You Think You Are?” continues to present the genealogy community with a golden opportunity to revolutionize, reshape, and redefine family history as a whole. It’s an opportunity to grow and strengthen societies, to infuse our community with younger audiences who can become the next generation of family historians, and to educate the public about what family history is and how to successfully research their heritage.
What will your society do to celebrate the show's new season?

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