07 December 2008

Ancestors in the Attic -- overseas roots

History Television broadcast two episodes on 6 December, one new, one a repeat.

Missing Pieces, from the new series III, documented a man of Japanese ancestry, whose father died when he was still a baby, returning to the ancestral home town to find a cousin and his father's name inscribed on the family grave. The episode helped explain why this man's father journeyed to Canada.

There was brief mention of the sources used in the search, both in Canada and Japan, and mention that the search in Japan using a local researcher took several months. When dealing with unfamiliar records in another language employing a local professional genealogist is usually a good strategy.

Roots, the repeat episode from series II, followed a Toronto woman's journey to a village in Cameroon identified as one in the area associated with her mitrochondial DNA. Although clearly an emotional journey for her it was less satisfactory genealogically as the particular village appeared to have been selected only because it was where the guide was from. Apparently the program was unable to help her with her paternal ancestry, her initial interest.

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