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Trace Your Family History

Online databases make it easier than ever to trace your own family history, and DNA testing allows for the type of deep research conducted by Henry Louis Gates, Jr.  These links can help you get started.

Comprehensive Portals
Official genealogy portal for the US National Archives, contains guidance for genealogy research and diverse archives of American records
FamilySearch provides resources and is tied to real-world family history classes and Family History Centers around the world
ProGenealogists offers paid research services but also provide a useful set of tools and links for getting started on your own.
Genealogy publication with advice on getting started, links, and more
One of the more popular paid genealogy database sites

Family Trees
Downloadable genealogy charts (pdf)
Social network-oriented family tree sharing sites
Popular genealogy software associated with
Suggestions for making your own family tree

International Research
Volunteer-based organization for international genealogy
50,000 links sorted by region

Other Links
Offers DNA testing resources to learn ancestry and personal health information.
Access to more documents from the National Archives, with a set of tools for uploading, annotating, and sharing
Three-volume journal on digital genealogy
Free and advertisement-free hosting of genealogy sites for educational purposes, public research, or study of national historic heritage
Cemetery records online
Information on DNA genealogy
DNA ancestry testing services
Search for relatives who may have come through Ellis Island
Pro Genealogist’s guide to sites their genealogists use, with indications of which are free and which are paid

  • Angela

    I am interested in my family’s genealogy mainly because I suffer from a chronic medical condition & I want to know if any of my descendants were afflicted with this medical condition.Recently another family member was diagnosed with the same medical condition.I am an African American & my medical condition I read through research affects predominately Caucasian people with Scottish-Irish heritage.I know that my father’s descendants hail from Virginia & many Scottish-Irish immigrants came to America from there.I hope you can help me & my family the admixture test would be a useful tool in finding my lineage.

  • Diane

    I started my genealogy to find out about medical conditions also. My oldest sister and my nephew from my younger sister have juvenile diabetes. After all my research I can’t find another family member who has had this disease. In the old days though kids could have died from it and nobody was sure what was wrong.

  • richard

    i need proof of my genealogy to show the goverment that my family are the ancesters of the choctaw indian tribe

  • Alvie L. Davidson

    The various state governments are putting heavy restrictions on seeing the cause of death on the requested death certificates that it might be a difficult thing to trace a medical genealogy.
    In Florida unless you are close kin the state closes the cause of death. In other words if your great grandmother died in 1981 in FL you cannot see the cause of death for your are not close kin. You must be child, parent, sister or brother, or spouse to fall into the category of close kin.

  • Megan Mactee

    I am stunned. This page is hurriedly thrown together collection with some really ill-advised links here.
    To whomever made this list: You would not link these sites if you had tried to them first!

    The GenealogyToday site is WAAYY too confusing! it is unusable.
    The laughable “Digital Genealogist” is so incredibly awful that not one genealogy company wanted to advertise in it! That is why it stopped publishing.
    MyHeritage? A bunch of crooks that promise you a free tree and then suddenly change their rules on you and demand money. They are EVIL.

    PBS, you blew it on this one.
    You really need to enlist help from an independent expert.
    This page is full of craptacular advice.


  • Katie

    I’m juvenile diabetic with no family history. You are very unlikely to find another type 1 diabetic in your tree (statistically), however, most type 1 diabetics are related to people with other autoimmune diseases (juvenile arthritis or thyroid disorder ect.). This is the case for me as well as for the majority of juvenile diabetics.

  • Lynn

    My mother and I started tracing our family history and have found some road blocks when it came to her mothers mothers side. My gr-grandmother was Cherokee Indian and born ca. 1892 in Indian Territory, as far as we know. But, we have been unable to find proof. Do you have any suggestions?

  • Bernadette

    Have you contacted the Oklahoma Historical Society? They may have some suggestions. They have pre-statehood census records and records of the Dawes Commission which published rolls of members of the Oklahoma Indian tribes.In Oklahoma, the larger libraries have copies of the Dawes rolls. I haven’t looked lately, but the Dawes rolls, along with roll numbers, used to be online. However, it’s possible your ancestor, although Indian, might not be on the rolls. Her family may have applied unsuccessfully for admission to the Cherokee tribe. Even if the application was denied, there may be a transcript of testimony taken from the family. Those transcripts can be genealogical gold mines. Maybe I’m telling you something you already know, but this is the best I can do. Good luck.

  • David Davis

    Lynn, what sources have you tried so far to trace your Gr-grandmother’s Cherokee heritage?
    In the 1890’s it was very common to claim Cherokee ancestry, as a means to acquire ‘free’ tribal land.
    When the Dawes Commission required a census be taken of all Native American tribes, those who applied for roll inclusion, and WERE ACCEPTED BY THE TRIBE, made the ‘cut’. Most did not.
    DNA will show if you have NA blood. Cherokee tribal records will show if your ancestor made their
    tribal rolls. However, you would probably know by now if she did, because your family would have
    received some form of health care or social benefits. Suggest you check the Cherokee Nation
    website. They have a section on genealogy searches. You will need exact dates, locations and names.
    The Western Cherokee Nation headquarters is located in Talequah, OK. – Dave D.

  • Melanie

    My father was born in Missouri (1939), adopted as a baby and brought to live in Chicago. He died a couple years ago and there are no immediate relatives left on his side of the family. My research into his natural parents is stalled because Missouri has sealed records. If anyone has advice on how to proceed or tips for overcoming this obstacle, I would be grateful.

  • Linda Moeller

    There are no instant results in family history research; it is research: gathering facts from various sources, evaluating and organizing them, and constructing one’s best case. The list of genealogy sites given above could certainly be improved by including other, more useful sites, such as RootsWeb and USGenWeb. The person who complained that information was not free has no concept of the time and work involved in creating online databases, nor of how hard that information was to find before the Internet when one had to travel to the geographic area to find records relating to one’s family. That meant overnight travel and the necessary hotel, meal, and travel expenses. An important source not cited is one’s local public library which often gives patrons access to the larger, subscription required, genealogy sites. A site that provides a huge collection of digital images incurs enormous expenses in preparing the images for posting. The people who do this work are paid employees, and thank goodness they are doing it.

  • Dennis Noson

    You have done a great service in posting these web links. I have used many of them, and while some are questionable in value, or have a teaser requiring payment to get some payoff, they replicate in a way the challenges our ancestors faced in their choices upon arrival in America. But as one reply noted, using the internet and web sites is far less costly than traveling to the places where records are kept.

    The Mormon web site is VERY good, but has many errors. My local library has genealogy databases available for the cost of a library card, and some of them have proven very helpful.

    I estimate that I have spent maybe 1,000 hours in the last 10 years browsing, downloading, pursuing dead ends, and finding ultimately what I have been looking for: a window on my past, and on America’s history.

    Thank you PBS, and kudos to the producers of the show. I just finished watching episode two, and I was deeply moved by the images, interviews, and emotional responses of the show’s guests, deeply moved I say again, EVERY MINUTE OF EVERY INTERVIEW, EVERY IMMIGRANT’S TALE, EVERY IMAGE. Probably it’s my experience with studying history, in college, on my own, and brought to life in your “PBS American Experience”. Yes that, as well as my time touring Ellis Island, Minuteman Road, and other National Historic sites, that have contributed to my understanding of the struggles and joys, and the pride in being an American. Thank you, again, for bringing those experiences alive in Faces of America.

    –Dennis Noson

  • Barbara Testut

    Thank you PBS for a wonderful new program. I have been doing our family History for the past 15 years and seeing what can be done is certainly inspiring. Many road blocks but eventually the story reveals itself.

  • Diana Tolbirt

    I have been researching my fathers side of the family and with time I have found allot of information.
    I found through Ellis Islands website my Grandfather and his brothers and my Grandmothers brother , but nothing on my Grandmother or her sisters who came here from France and the Pyrenee’s. But I am still looking.

    Thankyou Henry Louis Gates Jr. and PBS for another wonderful program!!!

  • mary schmitt

    I love this program and hope it continues for a long time I have so much admiration for you Henry Gates, you are a hero in my eyes for a lot of the work you have done. Keep up the great work. Mary Schmitt

  • ann cary has digitalized the Dawes Commission rolls.

  • Kathleen Resburg

    Thank you to the producers and Henry Louis Gates, Jr for bringing this show to us! Like so many on this forum, I too am researching family history. Nobody in my family would be considered great or famous, but their stories are still fascinating.
    Genealogic research is so much easier today with internet access than it was in the years before. For those new to genealogy, do use your local library resources. The LDS church makes genealogic research resources available to everyone. And do share your information so others can discover their branches, twigs, and leaves!
    I have a grandmother-by-marriage I am researching. She alienated herself from the rest of the family so no one in our family cares about her genealogy. But, someone else out there related to her might, so I am including her in my research and have found it to be fascinating and linked to Kansas history.
    I have no children to follow me, so the genealogic record I am compiling is my legacy. I don’t want anyone to be forgotten, names without a face or history.
    I found the gravesites of my maternal grandparents on They were marked simply, “Stokan: father, Stokan, mother.” (thank you to Helen Chandler for taking photographs, without which I would have not found them, and here again the power of the internet to help solve mysteries).
    Once again, thank you to the producers (Henry Louis Gates, Jr is one of the producers) and sponsors of this program. I love not only the genealogies of your chosen subjects, but most especially the historical context that you bring to the public. I have learned so much from the background to the histories of these people: the discriminatory laws, the obstacles, the surprises, the triumphs.
    This is why genealogy is so much fun, so rich, so important.

  • Jack Sederstrand

    Bravo! This is a wonderful presentation of the heritage that made our country what it is today. The hard work that went into this program is an example of the ancestry that came to America with little more than the baggage they carried.

    I would like to see as a follow-up to this series, the genealogy of the not-so-well-known, like the people whose comments above make for an interesting slant on the history of our great nation.

  • Sandra Munyon

    Sounds interesting and I look forward to watching the program. Have been doing geneology for about a year.

  • Sally Chandler

    This is a wonderful program; it is so interesting to see how people today are connected to historic events from the past through our ancestors. I’ve been researching my genealogy for several years. Until this program, I had never considered whether my ancestors who arrived here from England during the 1800s actually became citizens of the USA. How could I have not thought of that?! I have no idea how one would search out that information and it was not mentioned on the program. Does anyone know how one would go about finding that information? My only disappointment in the program is that it doesn’t reveal those sources for information.
    Thanks for any suggestions anyone can give me on this subject.

  • Ingrid

    I was estranged from my father. Recently, I have reconnected with a cousin on his side. I knew from his death certificate that he had heart trouble, but she gave me more information. He had Cardiac Myopothy (as do I), congestive heart failure (same here) and even had a ICD – Pacemaker/Defibulator (and so do I). He suffered migraines all his life. I stopped at menopause.

    On my mom’s side there is cancer, diabetes and heart disease. I have been treated and survived cervical cancer. I am dealing with the heart issues, and have radically changed my diet to avoid diabetes.

    I heard Dr. Oz say that every physician should ask for a family medical history. I think I am living proof of why that is important.

    By the way, even with heart issues, diabetes and cancer, the average age of death going back several centuries is 92 years.

  • Lori

    One site I use a lot is Even though it is a subscription site, it has some free content. Several libraries around the country have a subscription so their patrons can use it. Another good site is Find a Grave. People can search for people or a specific cemetery, and if thier ancestor is not listed and they know which cemetery they are buried in, they cam create an online memorial and include a short bio, upload pictures, and request a picture of the tombstone if they don’t have one. Roostweb has a lot of message lists you can join for dirrent surnames and area of the country. I have found a lot of cousins this way.

    Websites can be a wonderful source of information, but people should realize that is only part of research. Most of it comes from going to courthouses and libraries in the area our ancestors live. Most courthouse records unfortunately have not been digitalized yet. One library I urge people to check out is the Allen County Library in Fort Wayne Indiana. They have a website of their holdings you can check before you go. It is one of the best in the country.

    I really enjoy the show.

  • Ruth Mesarch

    My husband and I have been watching the show and really enjoy it. What I would like to know what is the best way to breack down a brickwall I have been trying to do for four or five years now.

  • Paula

    I am a 1st generation Canadian with parents who were born in the Azores Islands of Portugal. As my parent’s are now in their 70’s and no living grandparents it seems impossible to search our family tree further back than 1 or 2 generations. In the past other members of my immediate family have tried by looking thru old church record which seem to be the only source of information, Sadly most of these records are “unattainable”.
    Doe manyone out there have any idea of where I may start or have any information about reliable geneological services that I amy turn to?
    Any information would be greatly appreciated

  • N J Netter

    I like the program.
    However, there should be some explaination of the difficulties in doing research. If our ancestors left a record then we can find them. However, not every ancestor left their mark and some records have be destroyed due to fires of a Court House, the Civil War and the Revolution War.
    Any one who has done serious research knows that it is not that easy. Especially when you search before the 1850 Census.

  • Sue

    Check with the county courthouse in the county where your ancestors lived for a Declaration of Intent, Petition for Naturalization, or Certificate of Citizenship. If they moved around in the USA, you may have to check the courthouses of the different places they lived to find the information. Good Luck!


  • Lori

    The episodes keep getting better. When Mr. Gates presented Yo Yo Ma with the Ma genealogy, I started crying. What every genealogists would give to find something like that! I also enjoyed following the lines of Ms. Streep and Mr. Colbert into PA, as some of my lines were also there before the country was founded. I wish your researcher could help me!

  • Charlene

    I really enjoyed the show, and find it very moving everytime I watch. I have also tried many of the sights who limit free information. But since the birth of my grand daughter I have been motivated to pursue my family tree further. Iv’e been blessed to be able to share another day with her, after my anyrysm rupture in October. This will be my gift to her of her family history. So here we go!

  • ChekWriter

    Excellent Idea. Fantastic too for the children tocome along after.
    Not that they can look forward to the affliction, but can at least alert their medical professionals

    to possibly screen for it. It is absolutely amazing what you can learn about your ancestors, today.
    I am still amazed each day.

    Been at it for over 25 years. Still discovering more and more. By DNA testing, have found so far, 5 other branches of family. A couple of them, granted, not a clear paper trail, but working on it.
    Good Research on your Family search.

  • ChekWriter

    Begin with yourself. #1
    Then your parents names.
    THen your grand parents, both sides.
    THen and if you can, go further back.
    Census. Marriage, birth, death, Funeral, Baptisms, all records are available with a little “digging”.
    Check out your local library for a good book on your subject of search.
    Check out your nearest Latter Day Saints Family History LIbrary center. They usually have volunteers who
    may be able to assist you in your search. Many have good experience and often offer classes.
    Google what else you cannot find. See what other topics, information, may be “out there”.
    National Archives would bet has Great Information, and have the forms for you to fill out.
    Our Ancestors have waited this long for us to find them, DO NOT BE DISCOURAGED if it takes a few
    days, weeks longer.
    Best to Your Quest for Family.

  • ChekWriter

    Absolutely, NO You Know What Sherlock!

    Here! Here!

    It begins as a simple tree. Me, Mom and Dad. Grandma and Grandpa.
    Then the Aunts and Uncles. The Cousins.
    Their spouses, their children.
    Their extended family.


    Is amazing what you can find, once you get “Curious”!

    28 years later, and counting. Still at it

    : )

  • ChekWriter

    Can do a sort search for place of birth, death, marriage, on the web site,, that is, If known.

    Just put in the surname only.
    Then the place names.

    Get a cross section of those surnames who lived in a particular area. May help to sort down and then
    look at the census records, that is, if after 1790 for most states. Otherwise, after about 1830 for others.

    Not familiar with Canada records. Not sure when they began keeping GOOD Records.

    Might find related and allied family too.

    Kind of a beginning after reading a book on How – To.


    Have found, that my ancestor’s, married into their spouses families. Cousin’s married cousin’s etc. brother’s of one family married Sister’s of the other.

    Some even half brothers and half sisters married when the Preacher came to dinner. That is,
    children of father – mother, married siblings of the other parent.

    Not really BLOOD Related, just by marriage of their respective parents.

    Interesting tidbits:

    Example: Mills married Smith.
    their son married SEELEY/SEELY.
    their son married CLINE.

    Cline’s sister married GRIFFIN.

    GRIFFIN’s cousin married MILLS.

    MILLS was daughter of MILLS – SMITH above.

    another one:

    WILSON married MILLS.

    WILSON’s sister married LOUKS.

    Wilson married either 1st or 2nd to BROOKFIELD.

    BROOKFIELD was son of GLOVER.

    GLOVER related ancestor, maybe, descendant GLOVER / WELSH/CH did a DNA test.

    DNA Info desk, says that descendant’s DNA markers match to that of my MILLS family member markers.

    Means we share a Common Ancestor.

    Kind of a circle of family, a Really Big WIDE circle.

    Again, need to be a little bit curious. Granted Curiosity Killed the Cat, But Satisfaction Brought it Back.

    : )

    Good Hunting!

  • Brenda

    I am very interested in tracing my ancestors on my mothers side. I did check out some of the websites and was able to find an enlistment record of my grandfather in WWII. I still havent been able to trace the origin of our last name though. Iruegas sometimes spelled Yruegas or Uruegas, is no where to be found. I find people with the same last name– mostly in Texas, but I am curious as to where exactly it originated from. Any other website suggestions besides the ones listed here?

  • Brenda

    After a bit more research, I was actually able to trace the name Iruegas back to 1617 in Bilbao, Vizcaya, Spain! It turns out that there are more Iruegas than I thought. I will continue my research to see what else I can dig up. This is all so very interesting!

  • Jon C. Johnston

    This is fascinating. Someone should publish a book of all these emails, with resulting research and findings
    to illustrate the process of looking up one’s ancestors.
    If anyone can send me anything on these subjects, please send it to:
    Thanks, Jon Johnston

  • Marie

    Mr. Gates I truly enjoy your shows. They are wonderful and deeply moving. I would love to see more ordinary African Americans given this wonderful opportunity on your show. It would also be deeply appreciated by many of us to see how you actually do this. I have always wanted to trace my family tree and I am more determined than ever to do so. I’m sure that you know for African Americans it is so difficult to know where to start. Even the very basics can sometimes be difficult. For example my mom was born at home and has no birth record. And then my granpa told me he and his brother owned farms down south and his brother had trouble with a white man and they were told to leave town or the whole family would be killed. So they left their farms and changed the family name ( not legally) and left leaving everything behind. I was so young when he told me these things and just assumed it was common family knowledge and now I find pretty much nobody knows what I’m talking about and of course he has been gone many years. My moms half sister who is 80 remembers this somewhat but was to young to remember the details of where they were. How do I find these things out?

  • Dee Cappelli

    All four of my grandparents were naturalized citizens — each from a different country (France, Italy, Germany, Ireland). I only have the sketchiest details about their lives before the birth of both my parents. Nevertheless, I’ve always had a keen awareness and deep appreciation for the incomparable contribution of all the generations of courageous forefathers and foremothers who travelled wide oceans to make a better life in this country. This series, however, has moved me in a way I could never have predicted. The legacy of our founding fathers and founding mothers continues to make our country greater every time another group of hopeful immigrants gather for the common purpose of American citizenship and swear their allegiance to the United States. I have always felt blessed to be an American and deeply love the vast beauty of this land but “Faces of America” has made me ask myself, “Do I have what it takes to take on the challenges my ancestors faced when they gave up everything to become Americans? Would my ancestors be as proud of what I’ve done with my life as I am of what they did with theirs? ” Thank you Mr. Gates and everyone who contributed to the making of this powerful series.

  • Cinder

    Contact the state or the agency that handled the Adoption. Find out what information they would require for you to gain access to this information. There shouldn’t be any issues about privacy as the likelyhood of your Grandparents still being alive is slim to none? I was adopted through the State of WI, the state contacted my parents to ask them if it was ok to release my informaiton. They both said yes, and I have actually had contact with them both for over 12 years now. I know my situation is a little different then most. I would start there and see that they say. Don’t ever give up. You can also try to locate the hospital in which he was born and see if you can find any birth records that way. I have heard (but haven’t tried) that records older then 1955 are public record. So anyone can look at them. I found this out while requesting a death certificate for a Great-Grandmother in Idaho.
    Good Luck to you.

  • Barbara Leveque

    Faces of America has touched me at a very deep level. I started searching my family history 4 years ago with the intent of finding my mother’s father. I had no idea where this journey would take me and what I would learn. I grew up with the family myth that my gr grandfather came to the US in 1880. He actually came to America with his parents and two sisters at the age of 3 in 1852. They sailed on the City of of Mobile and the journey took 3 weeks. Castle Garden and Ellis Island weren’t open yet when they arrived. They went first to Michigan, then Illinois, and finally in 1878, Washington Territory. My gr gr grandfather fought in the Civil War, Illinois 33rd Regiment and died at Vicksburg at the age of 40 from chronic diarrhea resulting from combat injuries. My gr grandfather married a woman who’s family is connected to George Soule, Mayflower Pilgrim, and at least one member fought in the Revolutionary War. My gr gr grandmother remarried and is buried in a small cemetery not far from where I grew up. It was a deeply moving experience to stand in front of her grave 2 years ago! As my mother is a British War Bride, arriving in the US in 1946, I thought our family didn’t have a very long history in America. Finding my ancestors has created a deep feeling of connection to the past in a way I never could have imagined. History has come alive. Thank you Henry Lewis Gates, Jr for a fabulous show that hopefully will help generate more interest in family history!

  • Jaclyn

    I need the same proof!! I am the great granddaughter (7th) generation of the chief from late 1890’s to early 1906 but my people refused to sign the census in 1906 so I am having trouble proving ,my history to get my tribal rights and history of my family.I am Choctaw as well. I need help to prove who my family and I am.

  • Stacey L. Hardee

    My daughter tried to trace our native american ancestry,but wasn’t able to find any from my grandfathers family.
    My grandfather was adopted as a baby and wouldn’t talk about his childhood.I would really like to learn more of
    w3ho and where we come from.All I know for sure is that he was full-blooded souix.Can Mr. Gates please help me?

  • Chris

    That’s a lot of criticism and not a lot of help. I know that floundering around on the internet isn’t getting me the information I want. How about telling us where we can actually find it? Anyone out there have some useful information about how to get family records, as cheaply as possible? My family is English so I need links to records in Britain. I’m in California, my cousin is in Aberdeen Scotland and we’re trying to piece together a family history. Any suggestions would be appriciated.

  • Louann Brown

    My husband and I grew up in Midwestern communities where we didn’t really talk much about our ethnic heritage. When we married and moved to another town, we were surprised to meet people our age whose grandparents still spoke their native languages. It made us curious about our families. After many years and hours later we have rewound the history of America through our ancestors lives. From those who broke the prairie backward to the first of our lines who sailed on the Mayflower and crossed the mountains into the wilderness. My grandmother used to constantly introduce me to her “cousins” now I see that many of our neighbors were indeed our cousins.

  • David

    I am actually not interested in my own genome, but more the make-up of my highschool. Would it be possible for a study like this to be done for my school? if so please contact me.

  • Melanie

    what was the name of the company where Dr. Gates went to get his entire genome mapped?

  • V_Anderson

    Thank you Dr. Gates and PBS for a wonderful show and great information.

  • Joe Stiles

    Through the help of many others, I have a trace lineage of the STILES family to the mid 1600s in the Yorkshire area of England.

    However…I know nothing about the individuals along the path.

    Perhaps the help and support starts with this entry.

    Joe Stiles

  • Cindi Warnstaff

    I personally use the free family tree site – called, I’ve traced almost 5,000 relatives so far, but I would really like to have a blood test for me, as well as for my adopted son, Jonne’.

  • Grace Aqualina

    The show ‘Faces of America’ has made me more than curious about my own family genome. Is it possible to have the names of the two companies that Dr. Gates used to trace his entire genome? I would like to do this also. Thank you for your consideration.

  • Wee

    This information I stumbled on some years back on the frontline website!

    I was so surprised to read all the info that was on it, at times I felt that this info must not be true! Besides if it is, why isn’t this well known? After all, you can’t believe everything that is put on the internet, so I was told! But when I told my aunt, who is old enough to be my grandmother, she said she remember talk in the community about Queen Charlotte, the ancestor of Queen Elizabeth, having african ancestry. The fact that it was known back then got me wondering if there may be some truth to this, along with the other information. Then there was the news that Prince William on his eighteenth birthday required every one including him to wear african attire. WHY? Was he secretly honoring his african roots? Then I saw a PBS show with Peter Ustinov, on his travels, speak of his Ethiopian grand-mother. So the information about him on this website was true! And now after watching this program, faces of america, and seeing the possibility that many people may share the same ancestry, I began to believe all of what is on this website is true! But I still don’t know why it is still kept hidden, or not spoken of! Perhaps some feel it could open up a huge can of worms, with some denial no doubt like the Jefferson controversy perhaps. But with DNA research, couldn’t that settle all of this now! The british royal family has african ancestry??? Allessandro de Medici, mother a slave, father….who became a POPE! And through him the rest of Europe’s royal families emerged!!! WOW!!! A huge story indeed! Now the question is…..who is brave enough to dig into this information further? I hope that Mr. Gates, or someone else, perhaps the researchers on the history detective’s could investigate this information! I sometimes wonder if Mr. Gates who’s career revolves around this this stuff already knows! I think a program on this subject would be fascinating, and would draw huge ratings! And I wonder why Frontline chose to place this, on their website,
    well hidden on their website I should add, but go no further on the subject! Why not air all this on one of their programs?

  • Vera Ellen Rich

    Today on another website, sadly, I read comments from people who were refusing to complete the 2010 census- out of ‘fear’ of the government’s inappropriately use of the information. I hope every person interested in genealogy, entering and/or reading these comments will start voicing the necessity of everyone completing census forms! 100 years (or more) from now, our ancestors may need 2010’s census information to proceed with research. We create our history’s documentation every four years. Census data is important for many things today– such as the creation of new population US House of Representatives areas and the allocation of Federal benefits to voting districts and states. Genealogy records may be the longest legacy we create every four years!

  • Linda Yeo

    My genealogy research was to verify my relation to U S Grant and Alexander Hamilton as I was told when a youth.

    Your program was wonderful. Thank you for presenting so much information in a facinating way. Wouldn’t it be interesting if people met through the pie circle before meeting face to face? Too many judges are made by appearance. Your guests were facinating and their genealogy was incredible.

    The genome research was facinating. What is entailed in having an individual geneome done?

    Thank you again for your informative and enlightening program.


    i really want to find out how i can acquire a complete genome record/study/analysis for my self, primarily for health and health risk data for myself and and children and grand children, but also to better understand my own ancestral cores. I believe I am english/dutch/welsh/cherokee but don’t know for sure. The show sparked a stirring deep in my soul, so deep I am still trying to get my head and heart around it it fully. Some to maybe understand why I am who i am, but to also- and this may sound odd, to understand better (in the years I have left) who I am supposed to be-who and what was I born to be…

    How can I obtain this genome info?


    i applreciate this blog as well, very valuable feedback and thoughts shared here.

  • JWilson

    I want to thank PBS for producing such a great show! I have been researching for 2 years now and love it. It can be frustrating at times but also very rewarding. I have discovered genealogy is extremely challenging and I would compare it to a math word problem. Luckily I have been able to trace many of my lines to at least the 1700s and have a list of Surnames between 40-50 names! I would recommend reading the message board posts on and It is free and this will help you connect with other researchers who may be able to help you along the way. I would recommend not believing that the census is perfect…there are so many errors in name spellings. So when looking at census results it is helpful to look at alternate spellings.
    I hope this show continues on with more guests!!!

  • Kathy

    Best bets are; which you’ll have to pay for but you can go monthly and when you have all the info just cancel it. Or you’ll get really hooked on genealogy and keep it for years, like I did. But use the search portion and also the “member trees”. You may get lucky and your family trees will have already been done. Also the is excellent and it’s free. Also: it’s free and also through the LDS church. I’ve been doing research for 10 years now and these 3 sites have gotten me 90% of my information.

  • Kathy

    I also have ancestors in Bilbao. Do you know about the website: Sacremental records from that whole area. and it’s free.

  • Glenda Holmes

    I have scanned the responses and was surprised that the free site, was not mentioned. This is a volunteer organization that has a representative in every county of the United States (or wants to). The volunteer coordinates gettinginformation about the county and its records online as well as a history of the county. Of course, the amount of information varies from county to county. Some have extensive archives and others, very little information. I have found quite a bit of information in these sites in my family history search.

    The other site I use extensively is the site. I have tried subscriptions with others, but have found the most information with Ancestry.

    Another source that can be useful is the message boards, particularly the Ancestry one which, I believe, is free.

  • Deb

    I’m SO glad someone pointed out the aspect of the difficulty in conducting this research. I would have loved to see an episode focused on the process of conducting genealogical research, the resources that are available and most commonly used, the importance behind documenting all your findings and research etc.

    Not to mention the caution against blindly accepting information you find in uploaded family trees on sites like I have the circumstance in my research where two people on have linked my maternal grandfather to an incorrect set of parents by listing my great grandmother as the 2nd wife. She WAS married twice, but never to the person they have listed!! I’ve contacted both politely explaining the error, even providing a link to a scanned copy of my grandfather’s birth certificate, grandmother’s marriage certificates and asking them to correct their posted trees. Both have flatly refused. One even goes so far to add my grandfather’s name as an ALTERNATE name for his person to justify linking to his family group.

    It’s a pit fall to the “anyone can upload or change information on ancestry” aspect of that site. NEVER accept information from an uploaded, unsourced tree without FIRST verifying the information through independent research and examination of the source records!

  • Ren

    I wouldn’t use most of the resources on this page. Many are rife with erroneous data.

    A good researcher always wants to see the source document, and the ideal is to verify information via two (or more) source documents. Source documents are things like census, city directories, tax lists, birth and death certificates, baptismal records, bastardy bonds, marriage bonds, immigration papers, ships’ manifests, etc. And the reason you want two (or more) sources is because even “official” documents can have errors. My grandmother’s death certificate lists her daughter and son-in-law as her parents!

    A source document is NOT a family tree on an internet site that may or may not be accurate. Those are great for looking for clues, but you still need to verify the research. Many of the family trees on the internet have errors that are replicated time and again by people so excited to have “found” their lines that they do not verify the information. Original documents (or scans of the original document) are always best.

    The good, solid, reliable information is not going to be free simply because it costs someone time and money to find it, scan it and make it available. Sometimes it takes digging around in dusty courthouse basements or hours leafing through library archives.

    As suggested, is one of the better resources on-line, primarily because they offer scanned images of the original document so you can read it for yourself. Yes, you have to pay for it. Many areas have local genealogy clubs where members will do free or low-cost lookups of local resources for you in order to get experience or because they are working on something similar already.

    The LDS Family History Library in Salt Lake City is amazing, and use is free to anyone who wants to use it. The volunteers who staff are well trained and very helpful. The LDS also have local family history centers for genealogy research, and will order specific microfilms of docs for users for a minimal fee (I think it is a couple dollars to cover postage to the FHC.)

    I don’t agree with the other poster about The LDS church allows people to submit family trees, but clearly says that they do not have the resources to verify submitted information. I have found huge errors on their site (and most of the others) that is easily refuted by the census.

    The whole point of “finding” your ancestors is defeated if you “find” the wrong people because of trying to take short cuts or not verifying data. If you’re just going to accept what someone else throws up on a website as gospel, then you may as just make the whole thing up to begin with.

    This show made finding ten or twelve generations back look easy. It’s not. I know people who have researched for years and can’t get past three generations. This is a very time-consuming hobby.

  • Ren

    Diana, are you sure your grandmother and sisters came through Ellis Island? Is it possible that theyy did not come directly from France? My biggest surprises (so far) was to find my German ancestor actually entered through Canada and that my spouse’s Italian immigrants entered through California via a three year stay in Panama of all places!

  • Ren

    Sally, can you find them on the census? At least two — and I can’t remember off the top of my head, but I think it was 1910 and 1920 — asked if the person was a citizen along with year of immigration.

  • Maggie

    I have been tracing my family tree less than a year – since I retired- but have happily traced back to one of my grgrgrgrandfaters in England.
    Many of my ancesters come from Massachusetts. The state of MA has an excellent online site. This is free. See This site contains on line indexes to MA Archives Collection Database(1629-1799), Index to Passenger Manifests (1848-1891), and Index to Vital Records (1841-1910) . The index to Vital Records can be searched for birth,marriage and/or death records. Though it askes for first and last names, location and beginning and ending search dates partial information can be entered. It gives names, location,
    volume and page numbers for the sought information. Copies can be ordered – for a cost – the website explaines what is available and how to order.
    The archives themselves are open to the public for research and you can make your own copies. It is adjacent to the JFK Library in Boston.
    It is a wonderful free resource.

  • Judy

    FYI – when I first started researching my family’s ancestry, there was a story that my great grandmother was 1/2 cherokee – an Indian Princess! – unfortunately for most people who have one of these “stories” in their family, this one about mine & most of the others has never been proved.

    That story was told by one of my grandfather’s nieces – about 1993, I moved to Oregon and in the little town of Coos Bay was a Trading Post – I stopped in one day and found a “Confederated Tribal” Newsletter. One of the tribes affiliated with it was the Cherokee Nation, and within the Newsletter was a form to fill out and send if you wanted to search for any of your family names on any of the Cherokee Rolls – so I filled out the form and sent the money required and requested they search for 3 surnames for the period of time that pertained to what she had said. It took 3 attempts because the 1st & 2nd reply from the Cherokee Nation were to the effect that they wern’t accepting any more people into the Cherokee Nation – whether you were a ggggranddaughter of a Chief or Princess or whatever. I replied to them that was not my goal, and I was just trying to see if any of my family names were on the rolls. Finally I got what I requested and all 3 surnames were on the Trail of Tears Rolls, which was the largest removal of Cherokees from Tennessee to Oklahoma – because of the date that the rolls were taken, and the dates of birth of the people I descended from – it didn’t prove anything as far as being descended from any of those people – were they related to my ggrandmothers family – probably but there is no way to prove it. From this what I do know is that some people with the same last names as some of my ancestors were walking the Trail of Tears with the Cherokee Indians – that’s it. Unless the Choctaw Tribe was different – there were no records kept by the Indians of who married who or who gave birth to whom – within the tribe. So say if your family member was living with the Indians, married an Indian and had children with the Indian, unless they had these events documented by the government – which would have meant that they would have had to in many cases travel to the nearest court clearks office, these events would not have been documented. No one was going to the tribe and documenting marriages, births etc.

    I’m still involved in my family genealogy, still searching records and reading history books and since the time that my grandfather’s niece’s story, have discovered other marriages into the Cherokee Nation, but I am not a descendant of those marriages.

    One of the things you learn when you start down the genealogical path is not to believe everything that you hear that has been passed down through your family – consider each story – just a story until it is proved.

    There are a lot of resources on the internet now – the best advise I have for anyone starting out is;

    1. Get each living person in your family to fill out a family group sheet; anyone not living on their sheet, get someone else, son daughter, sister or brother to fill one for them. Say you’re wanting to research your father’s family – just continue back father to father – this is a HUGE project, once you have as many as you can get – this is the foundation to begining your ancestoral search.
    2. Try starting with the Church of Latter Day Saints website – remember that records with the LDS church are provided by people just like you – some are not proved and are not accurate, but some are and in many many cases you will find a road to follow that will lead to discoveries.
    3. Based on where people from your family group sheet were born, married, died you can now begin to research these types of documents – many states records are FREE, some are not. Search on line for the records.

    Just these 3 steps will get most people started, there are also FREE classes offered by Historical Societies, Genealogical Societies, Libraries – once you start poking around you’ll be amazed at the wealth of information that’s out there – and by this time you’ll have a pretty good idea of how serious you are about doing genealogy research. Most people just want the information, they don’t really want to have to look for it. There are so many other great aspects of doing family genealogy though – I hartily recommend it – it’s a fun ride. :-)

  • Judy

    Well done – Very good suggestions and information. Absolutely correct – there is an amazing amount of information available on the internet – without proof, you’re wasting your time. Once you dive in, be prepared for all kinds of obstacles, like different spellings of surnames, names repeated generation after generation after generation, nick names that have nothing to do with what the given name was, except they were popular during that specific period of time and all the errors by the clerks. You will get an education you never imagined.

    Google now is also working with the US Dept. of Libraries to digitize old books that are no longer under copyright and are no longer being published – they can be downloaded for free from Google Books. Perusing some of these old history books I have found wonderful details about what it was like during that period of time. My ancestry goes back into the early 1700’s, in Pennsylvania & Virginia, the information I found in some of these old history books paint a picture of what life was like back then. These old books are nothing like the text books you read in school, there are many stories written by individuals, chock full of aspects of life we have all but forgotten or never knew about. Those people were tough, most of these immigrants (late 1600 – 1750) were from Northern England and Northern Ireland.

    And I’ve done the ancestoral tour – back to Scotland, England, Wales, Philadelphia, Virginia, Missouri, Oklahoma. WOW – it’s one thing to read about where they lived and quite another to walk where they walked, genealogy has enriched my life and for me it has been well worth the time. I have created a family website from the information that I have found. Including time lines – and am constantly finding new information. It is very time consuming – no doubt about that!

  • Judy

    We all start with pre-concieved ideas of who we are and where our ancestors came from, depending on the information we have to begin with will determine the outcome of our research – having a pre-concieved idea in some cases is like tunnel vision. Depending on WHEN your ancestors came, is directly related to where they originated and where they entered, until modern times. There have been times that I was stareing at what I was looking for and didn’t realize it – stareing me in the face, but because of my own tunnel vision I didn’t see it……

    Local libraries offer some great resource information about the history of the US – some libraries also have genealogical departments and resource documents, books & film. The resources go on and on, people just starting out need a buddy or another relative to “bounce” their thoughts off of – I’ve found several on the internet, related to me and in some cases from the same branch. Regardless you’ve got to work backwards, from you to your mom and/or dad and on and on until you come to the 1st ancestor in your family to come to the colonies. Most birth certificates have the parents names – although we all know that clerks make mistakes too. But that’s how you begin – All of your grandparents may not have come at the same time or place. I have history on my mother’s father’s father’s – now this is mid 1800’s – that was when he came, (which is kind of a late arrival in my family) however his wife’s family arrived in the 1600’s. So, having a time line of who immigrated from where when helps – this kind of information is something that a certified genealogist would have a grasp of. But anyone can create a who arrived when from where time line – if you’re curious you will persevere!!!!

    Look at all the people on this website that are interested – you will be amazed at the support and interesting people and stories you will dig up along the way. It’s the best mystery I’ve ever read – it’s my families history – what could be better???

  • Genesis.

    What is that medical condition? I have one too. Perhaps its the same. Is it Malignant Hyperthermia?

  • Ann

    I told my elderly Chinese friend about it and sent her a link to see it the episode. I was surprised that the did not mention the reason that the genealogy records were hidden inside the wall. My friend confirmed that the it was the Communist “Cultural Revolution” that attempted to destroy all the culture, including the ancestry of the people. Why was that not mentioned?

  • Ann

    Take a look at this website:

    Also, Cynthia Wilson has done a lot of research on her African-American ancestors with great success. You can do it too. And get to your mom’s half sister quick and get her to tell you all her stories and record them or write them down. A good memory starter are old family pictures.

  • Larry

    I thought they did say why… That ever since the People’s Revolution in China, and their Communist dogma spread throughout every facet of life there, genealogy and all other forms of links to China’s imperial history was disdained and forbidden. Family records such as Ma’s were to be destroyed. Under Mao, possession of such documents would be dealt with severely, so to protect the family records and the holder of those records, they put them inside newly built walls. It was probably a fairly common act, and passed from person to person as one way to save the records, until someone would find them later.

  • LarrySchuler

    Thank you, PBS and Mr. Gates, for a thoroughly enjoyable and inspirational program!

    Only PBS and a person such as Mr. Gates could provide us with a program that reveals much of the human psyche as to our connections, realized or imagined, to our past and our ancestors. Although well-intentioned, the NBC program doesn’t provide much more than the “OMG” factor.

    I have been researching my family for decades, on and off. Twenty years ago, all research required going to a locale. I find it wonderful that with every passing year, more and more “basic” research can be successfully accomplished online, with diligence and attention to detail. Those basic facts can enable anyone to complete additional research efficiently without a lot of wasted time and effort, to obtain many of the type of documents we are seeing on this program. (You are not likely to find a 19th century lawsuit, land grant, or a link to a King of England online…)

    But, as some of this programs subjects and Mr. Gates has mentioned as well – there are as many reasons for doing some research and knowing your ancestors as there are people doing the research.

    I feel knowing about my family’s history, and the history of the world they lived in, to be more than just informative. Just as we carry bits of DNA from our forefathers, we live their dreams to a large extent. What I hope my family will ultimately feel as a result of my research is more than just an informational connection to the past, but a fuller understanding of who we are, how we got here, and most important of all – a sense of responsibility – to fulfill their dreams of our successes and triumphs, to overcome all adversities in doing so, and to come to see that WE ARE ALL RELATED; WE ARE ALL BROTHERS AND SISTERS, and WE ARE ALL in this TOGETHER.

    Peace, and Love,

    Larry Schuler
    Master Sergeant (Retired), U.S. Air Force
    Disabled American Veteran, Vietnam Era
    Cedar Park, Texas

  • Karen

    Chris, I was introduced to genealogy by my grandmother at age 12 and became hooked. I have been researching seriously for 10 years now. For Free or inexpensive research in the US you can start with USGenWeb (easy to find if you do a search). For records in England your best bet is The National Archives. It’s not for free, but not expensive. They are furiously digitalizing documents and have more practically every day. For records in Scotland try Scottish People. Also not free, but inexpensive. Researching in Scotland and Ireland can be frustrating. In Ireland at one point the government decided to pull all records from the local parishes and take to Dublin to “safe keeping”. During the “troubles” the building where the records were being stored was burned to the ground. Very little was left. It’s a tragedy. As for Scotland, for a time the King of England levied a tax over every registry: baptism, death, marriage, and people just stopped registering to avoid paying the tax. Unfortunately making the records incomplete. For thos of you with Eurpean backrgound, is one of the largest European databases. For free if you don’t mind sifting through thousands of hits. Good luck! It has been an exciting adventure for me!

  • Dante

    I am actually watching this on Oprah right now and I would like to know how I can take part in this study? I know nothing of my biological family. My mother was adopted and my father well he was never really around enough for me to know about his family either. I have lots of what I feel are emotional imbalances that may be helpful to understand if I know myself.

  • Devon

    I’ve been tracing my family here and there for a few years, but now that I have kids I want something to pass on to them. My husband’s family has been here for hundreds of years and he is able to create an extensive tree. My family, however, dead-ends only 3 generations back on my father’s side. My grandfather was a “foundling” in Italy. We have been able to find the record of the nurse who found him, which includes a heartbreaking detail of what he was wearing and that he was only a few days old, but the orphanage who took him in burned down decades ago, along with all of their records. We can’t find anything on either of these great-grandparents (my ggm was also an orphan at the same location). Do I need to just accept the fact that I will never know? Are there any new resources that might help me? Thanks!

  • Maria

    My success seems to end once I get to Poland. How can I continue the trace there??

  • Cheryl

    I was told since childhood that our family is direct descendants of the legendary John Paul Jones. (My 5th gg) History says he had no (legitimate) children, but family records show different. I have researched this for years and feel the only way to prove certainty is DNA. How do I go about it when he has been dead for so long?

    Thank you for any help provided and for a great show!

  • sharon

    I watched the oprah show today with lisa kudrow, emmitt smith and with dr. gates. What fascinating stories, I also watched the first “who do you think you are” program….both made me tear up a bit. Geneology has been a fascinating passing of mine for just a short while….I have run into some stumbling blocks, but as all of the info I have I must get for free right now, with my own memories of people and some notes in an old bible….I have gotten pretty far and will fill in information that I am missing later as I go along. I love the website and that is where my tree is located… it is fun and it is time consuming to find your “relatives”, but a fascinating journey awaits….. thank you pbs and dr. gates for this series.

  • Sam

    One of the most frequently discussed topics within genealogy groups/boards is the search for that elusive “Cherokee blood” – and there’s an example on this board. It may be that a *majority* of Americans in 2010 have these family stories coming from one family line or another. The DNA evidence (which was presented bluntly by Dr. Gates) however, indicates that these are usually nothing more than family legends with little basis in fact. What was it…only like 5% of African Americans have any identifiable Indian blood? I am sure that number is pretty close or Euro-Americans as well, maybe a little bit higher.

    Most of the “mixed” blood went back to the tribal populations where mixed offspring were more readily accepted. This is why current tribal communities have extensive Caucasian (and to a lesser degree African) admixture. This does not make them any less “Indian” – but this is as a historical fact. The “Indian blood” that many people claim (if it exists) may also be further back in the family line or not Cherokee at all. Many times it is not Indian blood at all but was a way to “cover” african heritage. People claim lineage, dates and locations that do not match with Cherokee tribal history or even US history. Other common elements of the “family story” include: the ancestor or ancestor’s family “slipped off the trail,” or “hid out,” or “didn’t get on the rolls,” etc.

    Yet, when you break down these stories and utilize healthy skepticism (rather than ignore facts because of romantic notions/desire that the stories really are true!) you will usually find that the the family story was more than likely incorrect or innocently based on assumptions. Details can certainly get confused, modified, and amplified over the generations.

    If G-gramma was born in Indian Territory, she must have been an Indian right? Well, no. In the decades prior to Oklahoma statehood in 1906, the majority of the population in IT was Euro-American – Natives were in the minority in their own territory.

    Being a tribal member or an Indian is – and always has been – being affiliated with an actual tribe…wherever they happened to be located. We are also talking about a relatively small group of people here. How can G-Gramma be a “full blood” when she was born, say, around 1900 (give or take a decade or two depending on your age) in Ohio, Kentucky, Florida, Vermont? How can GG-Gramma be a full blood having been born in say, 1875 in the racist Deep South? She had to have two Full Blood parents…what were they doing that far away from the tribe? How did they live…why do they show up on records as White, etc.? How do these “full bloods” hide out in all of these out-of-the-way places… and more importantly: why? The answer may not be romantic, but the likely answer is…the family myth isn’t true. Your “dark featured, high cheek-boned” great-granny was what they call “a brunette”…if you are White. For Blacks…G-Gramma’s “Indian look” probably had more to do with the blend of European and African features than any actual Indian blood.

    Finally, consider why your ancestor did not get on the “rolls” (e.g. Dawes Roll). If there was a true affiliation, why would they be missing? The common refrain, of course, is that “well, not everyone got on the rolls.” True. But, I would argue that *most* did. Again, the number of true Cherokees that did not get on the rolls is actually quite small. Just look at the Dawes Roll blood quantum figures. You’ll see the full range: Full to 1/64, with the majority having considerable mixture. Cherokees all.

    Now, I know dedicated Cherokee Blood Hunters won’t be deterred (they will keep on searching for that elusive “proof”), but for those of you you have these stories and are interested in finding out…my advice: don’t get too emotionally invested in the romance that you ignore your true family heritage. The REAL story is just as interesting.

  • Dr. Renoylds

    [...] Pinged> – Trace Your Family History | Faces of America | PBS … [...]

  • Amy

    I am having a big problem. I know that my grandfather on my dad’s side was an orphan in Texas born in 1913. How do I go about finding proof of his birth and possibly who his parents were?

  • KyMama

    My daughters & I are fascinated by this show hosted by Dr. Gates. (We also watched his PBS series, African American Families.) I am the adoptive mom of 2 daughters from China, now ages 10 & 8. They were found abandoned in public places, so we have no knowns of their birthfamilies. They happen to be both adopted from the same province, Hunan, in cities about 20 miles apart. One was born in 1999, the other in 2001. I have always been open to my daughters talking about identity. Now they want to save for DNA testing instead of a car or college! How can DNA testing help them piece together a genetic identity? Are there specific DNA analysis which may be more helpful than others to them? I would do anything to help them find any answers of their family of origin.

  • Ms. Elvera Horne

    I don’t know what creeds my family is for sure. I’ve heard my mthes mother is a Maloto indian.Her name was Rozweena Handy Washington.Her father John Henry Washington,was a mixeture of Etheopian/Nigearian on his mothers side.His dad was supposed to be Blackfoot Indian.Her grandmother of her mom was full blooded British named Mabel Black. My dad mother is also a Maloto Indian,mixed with Black Irish and Suix Indian.I’ve never met but my mothers father once before he died. I don’t know more than that. Thank you ever so kindly.

  • Dirk

    Just today I gave a presentation about how DNA tests can help with genealogy.

  • LJN

    Who cares about the ancestry of the rich and famous? They can go and pay a genealogist to figure it out for them. Most of those people wouldn’t have even been interested if it wasn’t another opportunity to be on television. How about having ordinary people who have disconnected lives submit and do their ancestry – for which they could never afford. Most people would feel more connected and empathetic to the common person then to these celebs…

  • Linda M

    For all of you beginning genealogists, try It’s a great resource with thousands of links. Try starting with the places your ancestors lived. There are many listings for cities, towns, counties and countries. Search also for your surnames, there are some fantastic websites dedicated to specific names. Try Google Books for histories of towns and counties where your ancestors lived. Any that are not currently copywrited are available in their entirity on line. You’d be surprised how many times you find the names of anestors listed in this type of book. The census records and city directories are also valuable souces of information cyndislist will help you find free census records for the areas you are looking for. An important note: write down where you found any info you do find. You’ll want to look at it again, and maybe look for other records, you can’t do that if you can’t remember where you found it. Happy Hunting!

  • Monica

    I asbsolutely loved Faces of America!!! My mother and I cant find anything about my 3 great grandfather William Turner Sanders born in North Carolina 1854. We know that he married Rosa Ann Morgan in 1887 in Walker County,Alabama. He lived in Dora, Walker Co, Alabama until his death in 1949 age 95. He is buried in East Dora Cemetery on East Dora Rd. His children are Willie Olin, Robert Elbert, Frealon Turner Sr., Ruby Gertha, Pearl, Pauline, Earl.

  • Lynn

    Thanks for your help. My brother in law did find my gr-grandmother and her mother and syblings about 10 years ago in a book of Cherokees. But his memory wasn’t that good and he forgot which book he found them in. I do know that when my gr=grandmother grew up and got married, she had to register as being white. Don’t have any idea as to why. Maybe prejudist at the time?

  • Chris

    Cool show!

    Like a number of others, being adopted is frustrating when it comes to this. I have an interest in my (adoptive) family’s history, but I am interested in my biological as well. Hiring a PI to learn who my biological mother was wasn’t cheap, but from there I was able to learn on my own who her parents were, grandparents, etc. I may never learn who my biological father was, though, unless maybe DNA genealogy becomes much more widespread.



  • Jen McBride


    Would you mind sharing a little bit about your maternal grandparents? I have Stokan family from Bosiljevo, Croatia. Two brothers went to Montana and both died there (Matt Stoken and Michael Stokan). They had a sister in McKeesport, PA. We’re not sure if other siblings came over or not. Our family has gone by Stoken since about 1914. shows my Stokan clan.


  • Lynn S.

    My new found joy, tracing my family made me wish the 2010 Census asked more questions like they did in 1910, 1920. I want to be sure that my descendant’s can find me and my family. I am so excited when I find information that I can source, I want them to have that same thrill. I think it is terrible for people not to complete the Censes. For all our sake now and in the years to come.

    Thank you PBS and Mr. Gates for a wonderful series. I would love to see more along these lines, the show is inspiring.

  • Jeff is Crazy

    I like this. As in most families my family has beleived they had blackfoot ancestors farther back. I have found no evidence to support this claim. No one lived west of Pittsburgh in my family. They are interesting and “romantic” stories as you say, and it is wonderful to think that you had ancestors that were American Indian. But if not it is not the end of the world, if you appreciate the culture enough you can still live it in a sense. Maybe you admire their homes, art, family structure, etc. Well you can still do those thing. If you only seek “the blood”, you may be out of luck.
    The other thing is, while I am also interested in getting a DNA test, but only if it is of ALL my blood, not just my dads dads dads dads dads…etc., I do not think the blood is everything. The person you are is just as important and it is in large part the cultural aspect, not the DNA aspect, that makes us. Nonetheless, it is still interesting, as many things are. Again though, nonetheless, we are still all related. People of say that the idea we are all related is a fantasy, to “get over it” type thing, or that were trying to make bonds that do not really exist, well they do. Hey, if you go back far enough, we all start somehwere.
    If you ever do a “family’s ancestral homeland” trip, as a friend of mine proposed, don’t leave out East Africa.

    I digress though. Often times the real history can be quite fascinating. I was surprised to learn that some of my father’s family were from Brazil-born and died there. That was cool to learn. I knew I was slimly French-Canadian but I had no idea my relatives were some of the original founders of Nova Scotia.
    It also brings laughs when you learn about history to-like that my mom, who’s grandmother’s family has been in America a while, where Revolutionaries. On the other hand, my Dad’s G-Grandmother came from Canada. We knew that. But we did not know it was because his family fled the US of A because they were loyalists. haha.
    I do wish though I could begin to look deeper into the roots beyond America/Canada. Of my 8 Great-Grandparents only 2 of them have roots beyond the 1800s “here”.

    My Dad’s dad’s dad family were Irish immigrants. I am not sure even where in Ireland they hailed from.
    My Dad’s mom and my Mom’s dad are both 100% Sicillian. I know the towns they came from but that is about it. And my Mom’s mom’s dad came from Turkey (well he was born in what is “now” Turkey, what was the Ottoman Empire. We are not quite sure of his family. Were they Turks? Greek-Turks? Gypsies? His father’s name was Spinos, his mothers Vleyachatk. Would be interesting to trace.

    Anyway, I enjoyed the series and hope I can find out more about a good DNA program. Any help would be great, and I will try these links out.

  • Alex

    Hey, well I’m gonna be straight forward, see I am adopted and have no record of my biological parents at all.

    I’m guessing when you put a child up for adoption, you include all the relevant information such as name, birth, parents name, information etc., problem is, my biological parents didn’t do that. There is no record of last names, or any contact whatsoever. I know there has to be documeted information out there, the thing is have no way of knowing or obtainng it.

    People have recommended DNA testing, but im still in highschool, and DNA testing money, im guessing is far out of my price range. Ive been to multiple sites that cant offer anything without biological name or money. I saw Faces Of America in our history class, and it really amazed me how things like this could realy work.

    My teacher knows I am adopted, she also knows my mom, she is the one who encouraged me to visit your website, and i want to know what you guys can do for help.

  • Betty

    I really love the show. I’ve been searching my mother’s side of the family for some time now. Years ago I got several generations back but ran into a dead end due to the cold war and the fact that her family was in East Germany. I’ve not had a chance to pick it up from there lately.

    Your show has encouraged me to do that so I will have to start looking for more information.


  • Roberto

    Geneology is an interesting topic and I do enjoy the show, does anyone got any good archives/ geneology sited about spain? Ive had a hard time finding info from Spain, Andalucia region. :)

  • Lynn is a great Web site! For a fee, you have full access to all the tools you need to find your family. You also will have access to other members, who are searching for the same family members as yourself. You will have access to copies of actual records. also has a help line that you can call when you need assistance or just have questions. I agree that you should use Google! If you are looking for documents or books, Google has copied a large collection of old written materials.

    I have been searching for about a year and have I found 11 generations of my mother’s family. Happy hunting!

  • William

    Judy, obviously you have years of experience in genealogy as you know more than anyone I have ever listened to on the subject, less this TV show! Have you ever considered starting a business helping people. I have been able to trace my mothers family back to Ireland in 1820 and the east coast in the late 1700’s, but can’t even find my grandfather on my biological father’s side. It disappoints me as I have three sons and I can’t even tell them anything about their ancestry other than a first name (of their great grand father), which was handed down to me and on to my oldest son. My biological father abandoned us when I was three years old and has since died, so any help from him is in the grave. I am excited since finding your advice, as I may now be able to find more information through some of the resources you have listed. Thank you and please, write a book. It could be a treasure in itself.

  • William

    Jack, I agree. My family has been in Idaho for 118 years and was instrumental in developing a small community in central Idaho. My great-grand father drove the first car into Lemhi County owned by the US Postal Service and was the fist mayor in Leadore and held that position for 62 years until the day he died. Beyond the history I have here locally I would love to see how it fit into the grand scheme of our countries history. That would be a great show for me!

  • Veronica

    My mother passed away 5 months ago and I had to go through a lot of her papers, some things I found where death certificates for my grand parents on her side, information I never knew. On my fathers side we are hard pressed to find much save for a bible still held by a distant cousin well in age in S. Carolina who will not part with this bit of geneological information for any reason. I tried looking for information through the Census many times from what I know and never got very far does anyone know if Professor Gates is willing to go though normal family trees to continue this interesting subject? I would gladly volunteer!!!


    I dont know a whole lot about my family only my mothers siblings and grandmother siblings very little about my grandfather and his family, there has been very little talk about his family but i do know that my great grandmother was cherokee indian, but I was always told that I was just black nothing else, wondering why that is I dont know anything about my grandmothers mother, is there any way possible you could help me, I would love to know who my ancesters was and where they are from so I could better understand myself as well as my family I am a lost soul that wander gods green earth please, if you can help I would love to past the knoweldge down to my kids so that they know where their heritege comes from so later in life they’er not as lost as I am. Thank you

  • Joyce

    I’m looking for my Great Grandfather Peter Mcguage. He was found in the 1880 census, but unable to locate him anywhere else. Can anyone help me? Thankyou

  • Wanda

    My father was full blood Choctaw and my mother was caucasian. I had 9 brothers and 6 sisters when The State of Oklahoma or whomever came and split us all up into closed adoptions. I am a member of the Choctaw Tribe however, they tell me that they can not give me any information about anything without my fathers permission first, which they will not ask him for. This is also the same wall that I run into when dealing with the adoption agency that has the file. When nobody is willing to help and all I have is my mothers name and my fathers name, it makes it nearly impossible. Any suggestions would be extremely valued. Thank you and I look forward to a response.

  • Bette

    There several options:
    1. Your grandfather lived in an Orphanage in Texas–check the 1920 census to find him. Hopefully, his name is somewhat unique and you can be sure of finding the correct person.

    2. Your grandfather lived with relatives–if you can find him on the 1920 census with family members, you could look farther back via census and death records. If the surname of the head of household is different from your grandfather, check the wife; that may be the blood relative. Texas Death Records beginning in 1890 are available on FamilySearch under the “Pilot Project”–this is where the Latter Day Saints have been posting actual vital records and census. Or, if you can access Heritage Quest through your local public library, which may also have; these are excellent online resources for good secondary sources.

  • Bette


    The 1870 Census for Lower Creek Township, Burke County, North Carolina, page 2
    (on FamilySearch “Pilot Project”, or you can find 1870 census on or Heritage Quest, both should be available through your local public library).

    A William Sanders, age 16 (appropriate age for your GGG Grandfather)
    Head of household (father) is Washington Sanders, age 47; wife Polly A Sanders, age 41
    Children: Brice, age 18; William age 16; John C. age 15; Elizabeth age 13; Marthy, age 12; Mary, age 10; George, age 7; Emma, age 4; and Julius, age 1

    Good Luck

  • Bette

    Veronica: Not knowing the surname, I suspect it is a common one and poses your problem with census.
    See if you can persuade the relative to transcribe the Bible Records for you or, better yet, ask them to make a photocopy or allow you to make digital photographs or take a flatbed scanner to their home so that the Bible does not leave their possession. You can get individual help at the Family History Center (located in Latter Day Saints/Mormon Churches) their well trained volunteers are very helpful. Another source may be the Lineage Research Workshops held as a public service by many Daughters of the American Revolution Chapters (DAR). Try your local genealogical society, as well.

    Look for clues in the death certificates; they should name the parents of the deceased, birthplace and age. If they are local, you might be able to get more clues through newspaper obituaries which may be available on microfilm at your local, county or state library. An obituary will provide clues regarding a person’s organizational memberships, employment, and religious affiliation. Churches are a good source for Christening, Confirmation, Marriage and Funeral records. Good luck!

  • Bette

    If you have a Latter Day Saints (Mormon) Family History Center near you, they might have someone who can deal with Polish Genealogy. If you have a Polish Genealogical Society in your area, they might be able to assist you with the language barrier. I have no Polish ancestry in my background, but these are suggestions.

  • Bette

    Was your father born before 1930? If so, he would be on the census with his family. The 1940 census will be released in 2012. If he attended high school, he would appear in Yearbooks; many of these are held at local public libraries, or you can contact the school itself. If he worked at a skilled trade or belonged to a labor union, there would be records also.

    Have you looked at and Findagrave?

    Good luck

  • Stephanie Rodriguez

    I want to find out my family history and find other relatives on my dad’s side but the problem is I don’t know much about my immediate family. My grandparents died when my dad was a boy and his sister died 12 years ago. The two reasons I want to do this is to know what my ethnicity is and so I can find other family members. My Maiden Name is Nash and I know that is a popular name but I don’t know how to do this with so little information. I would like some suggestions on what to do and where to start. Please email me your response Thank you!

  • Neka

    That was an awesome show. I want to take the test H. L. Gates Jr. took with the medical imformation and the pie and ALL. How can I do that. How much does it cost. Who must I contact????

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  • Craig Karo

    ALL ethnic groups have a huge decision to make right now. We either want a free country where individual rights matter or we will vote for those who are pushing Socialism where big, elite government control freaks will reign supreme.

  • Kelly Wenzel

    I love this show as well – both of my parents were adopted. All I have is a photo of my mother with her birth mother when she was two. We know that she is Cree and I think she was born in Pennsylvania or Delaware. My father was adopted by an Irish Catholic family via Catholic Charities – also in Pennsylvania, probably Philadelphia. I just learned that PA sealed all adoption records as late as 1985 and there continues to be a fight to give adoptees access to their records. I would love help unsealing these records and helping others.

  • Tony Pope

    To those who plan to use death certificates from Georgia… Here in Georgia we saw a terrible occurence last year…something to curtail using death certificates…at least in my opinion. Our state saw fit to increase the cost of death certificates from $10 to $15 in the early part of 2010 and by mid-year they had increased the cost to $25 for a copy! I had been trying to purchase death certificates on various lines to prove parentage. The $10 cost was hard enough…$25/certificate will make it virtually impossible to afford to utilize them as a resource.

    Our Georgia State Archives is in the process of digitizing death certificates and currently has 1919-about 1927 on-line at the Georgia Virtual Vault and you can get ones between 1927-1932 or 1933 on-site in hardcopy form. The problem with the digitized copies is that they are not true-size. If you can’t read them and need to zoom in…you’re out of luck. If you ask the Archives to allow you to see the original of any currently digitized copy…you’ll probably be turned down like I was. You could get a hardcopy there for 25 cents…which may have gone up as it has at courthouses. If you get a copy of a death certificate from the county of death where they keep vital statistics or from the Ga. State Dept. of Vital Statistics, they will make a certified copy and you will be billed $25. I could understand maybe if I needed a certified copy and they charged $25…but I cannot understand charging $25 for a plain copy if that is all you need. Just be forewarned if you planned to search in Georgia.

  • megan

    I am trying to find out my families geneology on my grandfathers side because I am trying to find out about my native american ancestry, and I cannot seem to find his mothers name anywhere. I have to purchase a birth certificate, but it’s like $20 here and after I purchase that one I will have to purchase his mothers birth certificate too to find out what her name actually is, all I know is her name was Lona Vitra but I don’t know her last name and I don’t know what year she died or where she was born or died or anything. This is crazy how much I have to go through to just find someones name. WOW. Does anyone know where I can go to find out what my grandfathers grandmothers name was without having to buy 2 different birth certificates? She was full blood choctaw indian. I have been online for like 6 hours trying to find information and all I’ve found was my grandfathers birthdate, his city of birth, and his social…lol. email me at if you have any information for me. Thanks.

  • Steve W.

    I saw an episode of Faces of America the other week. The episode I viewed had the Reverend, who just passed this week. I was intrigued by the misproving of the Native American ties to the African-American communities. I saw the explanation provided by an actual Native American historian, but wondered if it was something different. Sure, it’s possible that African-Americans wanted to be tied to the rebellious perception of Native Americans, but is it possibly something different. Could it be that Whites, who were obviously defying social norms, were disowned by their families or just found it easier to say they were Native American? I ask this because finding traces of my maternal great grandfather has been elusive at best. I find him in records as my grandfather’s father, but where did he come from? My mother met him once and thought he was white, but she was rebuffed and told he was Native American. I don’t know how to find out more about my greats, but I’m hoping this project will be able to give me some direction. I love the show and would be willing to submit a DNA test or whatever you need. I hope to hear from you.

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  • Tami Perez-Estrada

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    My grandpa’s mother was born in Italy on June 7 of 1849 and her name was Maria Pellagra Cambiaso Ferrari. By orders of the Italian Kingdom at that time, (The queen Regina Margherite di Savoia, who appointed my great grandmother Maria Pellagra Cambiaso as inspector of the Italian School “Raimondi” in Lima Peru, my great grandmother immigrated to Peru with her husband and my 3 year old grandpa). At that time many Italians also immigrated to Peru, but the Italian Kingdom paid her the salary; and eventually she became a professor at the school and later the principal. She had previously married in Italy and adopted her husband’s last name Dodero. The thing is that she is a direct descendant of the famous Italian painter Luca Cambiaso (1527 – 1585); Genoese painter and draughtsman. (He was the outstanding Genoese painter of the 16th century). And not only that, but because of his great paintings and art works, he was later appointed Duke by the Italian Kingdom then; and he then became part of the Italian nobility of that time. The Duchy continued with some of his descendants from that time to date. I thought it would be nice or prestigious for me and my family to connect the missing link with the descendants who continued the duchy in Italy, (at least to connect with some of them by letter or email, in spite of not having ever met, and even though we’re not “rich or famous” like those second or third cousins, or descendants who inherited or continued the Duchy). My grandpa and great grandmother died in Peru long time ago already; otherwise I would have asked my grandpa for the family tree record since he traveled to Italy when he was young to get it, (and I don’t know how much he found though). Since my grandparents died, we all (from the “Peruvian immigrants’ line”) came and now live here in USA. I heard that my Italian grandpa’s grandpa was also a descendant Duke, or of the Italian nobility of the time by the line of my maternal grandfather Alessandro Cambiaso. But my great grandma never went back to Italy; she rather was able to see her relatives and brothers (and even the duke or the brother in the duchy’s hierarchy from Italy, who traveled to Peru to visit her). Thank you in advance for all you can help me with, in tracing back or finding all the genealogical families or relatives’ connection (with generations that followed through or from the many siblings or descendants of Luca Cambiaso). And please excuse my English. I am Italian descendant and was born in Peru, even though I studied in the Italian school and raised in an Italian/Spanish speaking family.

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    Lila Bell Banks Glaze was born on Apr 16, 1893. She united in holy matrimony to Mr. Tom (Buster) Glaze. To this happy union, 9 children were born: Clemmie Jane (Mar 26, 1921), Carrie (Jun 1922), Jackson (May 13, 1924); Tom Jr. (Dec 11, 1925), Willie Clarence (Apr 16, 1927), Edna Mae (Jan 17, 1929), Eula Lee (Nov 30, 1930), Arthur (Nov 27, 1935), and Charlie (1937).

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