Sunday, September 1, 2013


WDYTYA is a TV series that dates from 2010 in the U.S. It originally aired on NBC; now, it's on TLC. In each show, some personality of note looks at their ancestry (very briefly). The story line then includes the details of their search among their tree plus particulars related to the part of the tree that they follow. 

Aside: In case you aren't familiar with topic, it might be apropos to put a few words about magnitude when you think of your ancestors. Go back far enough (see later on Cindy Crawford), and you will have a ton of people (of course, wags can argue about the diminished influence from each, and we'll respond to such like this: nonsense. Arguable? Yes. Later. -- Consider: when they were here on their two feet, their being was as great as you might think that your's is. Now, if you don't think much of yourself, that's another issue to discuss.). Two generations from you are the four grandparents. Then, each of these has parents. So, you are talking eight families at the 1st great-grandparents. Stopping there, for a second, consider that each of the four females represents a male line that culminated with her. So, at each node, the mother (these grandparents are referred to as greats beyond the 2nd generation) has a line that is n-1, rather than n (say what? yes, every line extends back to God-only-knows how far - that is, even undocumented people stand on the shoulders of their ancestral giants - it's the height of hubris to think that things written subsume more than a slim margin of the truth -- ah, at last, how this relates to the topic of the blog -- mainly, truth, in part, is based upon humans -- many attributes to be discussed.) 


When you think of people in the U.S. with "known" lineages to the first comers (say, those described in the Great Migration Project of the New England Historic Genealogical Society), by the time you count going back, you are talking thousands of families. Most do not have a filled tree, even under the best of circumstances. But, still, for those who do the work, some interesting things pop up. 


Aside: As we see with several seasons of personalities, their discoveries are like fleshing out American history and more. Too, one sees the pain and suffering that went along with events. In fact, that many survived very hard conditions shows the quality of their character (no implication ought to be found here about the Darwinian-associated -- we'll get to that, eventually). Too, though there ought to be some kudos for the views of the editors, one does get more than the sanitized perspective so loved by the historians (abstractionist leaners (yeah, computer types, especially) need to realize that truth is at the core -- yes, it's very smelly -- core? we'll get there). That is, the real person came out of the presentation -- kudos, indeed, to those who created these episodes). 

Disclosure: I've enjoyed this series from the beginning (plus the Roots one of Prof. Gates). WDYTYA, essentially, started less than year after I first got into historic genealogy. On the first episode (Sarah Jessica Parker), I saw familiar names and really liked pointing out cousins. But, then, that gets old, as one finds all sorts of these relationships. Now, it might be fun to put numbers on it (oh, x-cousin, y-removed), but that gets stale, too. Another thing, early, was the show following ancestral links back across the pond. It was nice to see this under the guidance of experts who, supposedly, would not let things go astray (as, we have seen mischief all along with genealogy - ah, where is the ethics?). So, we saw people go back to gentrified folks (gentrified? think of these four classes - [...] (none ever granted or earned), (...] (forfeiture via rebellion or otherwise), [...) (favored, as have to start somewhere), (...) (blessed -how many of these?), and to others. Too, the subjects seem to not all go back to one area (as in, covering a lot of Europe and beyond, planned? serendipity?).


BTW, as the seasons progressed, the personality became more the researcher with helpers in the background. At the beginning, the experts were more prominent. So, we have the recent episode of Cindy Crawford as an example. She started with one of her grandparents and went backward to New England fairly quickly which then gets my interest. After some wandering there, she went back to England. 

Aside: I think that Lisa Kudrow has done a good job. In fact, this season has a coverage that is very nice. Say, the Civil War, War of 1812, WWII, and more. And, Christina Applegate's story was heartbreaking; she was brave to let the edit stand. 


Now, Cindy's episode left a bunch of questions about what happened over here. Take Connecticut. Some now celebrate the venture there. Well, it sounds like New Haven (purists - oh Lord, protect us from such) was not heaven on earth (but, then, earthly heaven would be more like Merry Mount -- sorry, comes from hearing Dr. Lucy Worsley talk about Charles II). Cindy's ancestor left his kids there (we didn't find out what happened to them all). 

Then, we hear that the guy supported Cromwell. Well, we all have found such in our trees. My beef with Cromwell, if I had one, would be his treatment of the Irish, but, in that regard, he joins a large set of evil doers. And, I have a lot more to read about all of this stuff. There were not many angels written about (hence, the reference to the undocumented above - except for the likes of Saint Margaret of Scotland, perhaps).

Later, Cindy learns that she is a Charlemagne descendant through her ancestor. After seeing her visit, I did go back to read about where he was buried and a little more.

Aside: One thing that struck me were the remarks by the white-haired guy (I've seen him somewhere) in regard to why everyone goes ga-ga about Charlie. I've wondered, as he did not have influence in that area now seen as Britain, or eastern Europe, or a number of other places. The guy said that Charlie (his descendants are Charlie's minors) was the father of Europe. Perhaps so, as they split up his realm for (some of) his grandsons. Also, we're talking western Europe; history tells us that the resulting littler domains kept quarreling. Probably we would find some relation from this to those cousins bickering during the War of the Roses. BTW, in terms of the classes above, Charlie's ancestry is of the [...) variety. Who can really go back further sufficiently to not raise serious criticism - meaning, by other than wags? 


There are many ways for truth engineering to be interested in the past, including genealogy and memes. All here manifest some feat of survival over unknown amounts of time. Some have leaned toward genetic analysis, yet that turns out to not be the silver bullet that one might think. Are we missing something? Essentially, yes. But, we'll get there in our own time (as said, perhaps, other than PTIME).


05/28/2015 -- White-haired guy? RCA of NEHGS, of course.

12/31/2013 -- A popular post.

09/02/2013 -- Given the way the western world works, entry of the class of (...] might have happened due to no issue or only female issue (sorry, ladies). I like the forfeiture part (have run across it multiple times enough to start a sandbox). Ireland? Poor dears were run over countless times. Does that make them all saints? ... By the way, being a favorite does not always pan out (poor Despenser - carved up as Isabella cavorted).

Modified: 05/28/2015