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This series explores the fascinating world of family history records. You'll travel around the globe as each episode weaves expert instruction with moving personal stories. Ancestors demonstrates to viewers how to use a wide variety of records for family history research.

2 Seasons, 22 Episodes
July 6, 2000
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Ancestors Full Episode Guide

  • The passing of a loved one is a trying time, but in later generations, the death of that ancestor can provide valuable information to the family historian. Learn about records that come from the probate process and the details found in wills.

  • Immigration records are the key to helping us accurately trace our lines back to the homelands of our ancestors.

  • Witness the success of Susan Hadler as she uses military records to connect with the father she never knew.

  • Old newspaper stories detail the escapades of Lori Davis's great-grandmother.

  • Cemetery records often contain clues to important dates, family relationships, and military service. Even if a tombstone fails to reveal more than the basic information, visiting your ancestors' final resting places brings you closer to them.

  • Census records contain precious names, ages, birthplaces, and relationships. Use these records to discover when your ancestors may have arrived in the U.S., how they made a living, and more.

  • Searching for his ancestors' birth and marriage records, Jeff Gallup reconnects with his Italian heritage in his ancestral village of Piana.

  • Learn how to make the most of records found in church registries.

  • At some point, many genealogists decide that it's time to shift effort from collecting new information about the family to sharing it with others. Writing a family history is one of the most effective and satisfying ways of doing this.

  • Resources on the computer help Megan Smolenyak find cousins she didn't know she had.

  • Thousands of irreplaceable records are destroyed every day, but around the world, heroic efforts are being made to preserve them.

  • Hear the moving stories of three very different ways Americans have chosen to create a family history legacy. The More Family has held reunions every five years since 1889. What makes them so unique is that they have preserved every reunion for the past 60 years on film. The inspiring legacy of the dozens of handmade quilts Tabula Bottoms left her family is a quiet testament to her courage and humility. Jazz musician Hannibal Lokumbe celebrates the discovery of the lost grave of his great-great-grandfather, a former slave. Gathering his family at the burial site, he pays tribute to his ancestor with African ritual music and dance.

  • Go inside a maximum security prison to meet inmates who pursue their genealogy through computers. Their stories, and the remarkable rehabilitative influence of family history, will surprise and inspire you.

  • While her father was hospitalized for cancer of the prostate, television journalist Carol Krause and her sisters made a count of all the family members who had passed away, and came to a shocking conclusion: a large number of them had died of cancer. She began to research her family history, an important part of which was sending away for family death certificates. The information she discovered in this search ended up saving her own life as well as the lives of other family members: she herself was diagnosed with colon cancer and was able to have it treated early on. In the studio segment, hosts Jim and Terry Willard discuss with geneticists Dr. Raymond White and Vickie Venne the advantages to building a medical family pedigree in addition to a family pedigree, and the proper way to interpret the information resulting from this type of search.

  • Learn about the distinct challenge in researching African American records. Collette De Verge and members of the Southern California Genealogical Association share what family history and genealogy means to them as African Americans. Then, expert Tony Burroughs dispels myths about African American records and introduces new information to help begin a successful search.

  • Gary Bryant, a reluctant soldier in the Vietnam War, reveals how the study of his pedigree helped him discover his ancestors' legacy of military service, giving him a sense of purpose and self-worth. In the studio, hosts Jim and Terry Willard talk with genealogy expert Kurt Witcher on the value of U.S. Census and military records as sources of information. He tells viewers what detailed information to look out for, and what pitfalls to avoid when looking at these older records.

  • Meet real people researching their pedigrees at the library and hear the story of police officer Tom Madrid, who combed through libraries, courthouses, and church records to research his family history.

  • Like many Americans, Rafael Guber has ancestors who immigrated to the United States. Together with 100 descendants of immigrants, Rafael helped re-create the experience of first entering the United States via Ellis Island, near the Statue of Liberty in New York Harbor. Experts Sharon Carmack and John Colletta introduce the major types of records you can find as you look for the written accounts of events in the lives of your ancestors.

  • Learn about the types of sources of information that you can look for in your home. Shannon Applegate was looking for missing pieces to her life. In an old ancestral home she found a pioneer heritage that gave her renewed strength and understanding about herself. Expert Antonia Cottrell Martin explains what to look for at home and how to organize what you find.

  • Writing a family history is one of the most effective and successful ways of sharing the information we have collected from our families.

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