I'm a big believer in tying history and genealogy together. Who Do You Think You are is a show where celebrities explore their family histories. There are several versions of this series including Australian, UK, France and United States versions. The Australian version of the show, when they feature an aboriginal celebrity will put a warning about photos before they show the series. It is interesting to see the different celebrity stories. They discover secrets and solve mysteries in their family.
It would be an excellent show to introduce students to how people do research and genealogy research in particular. The celebrity uses both primary and secondary sources to further their research as well as family photos and in person interviews.
These are general questions that can be used with any episode of Who Do You Think You Are? A teacher can pick a celebrity whose family stories relate to the topic they are talking about in a history class or just use it as a filler for a substitute teacher.
However, if there are any specific celebrities you would want to show in class I would recommend:
Jerry Springer: Holocaust and World War II - His parents got out of Germany in time, leaving behind their mothers. In this episode, Jerry learns the fate of his grandmothers in the Holocaust and at the end meets a new cousin whose father managed to escape in the Kindertransports to Israel. I know Jerry Springer is controversial but you really feel for the guy watching this story unfold. He would be the number one celebrity Who Do You Think You Are participant I would show in class.
John Stamos: There wasn't a specific theme for this episode, it was about one woman's determination to bring the murderer of her husband to justice. Stamos meets a cousin in Greece and it was interesting to see a different side of Stamos. This episode features heavily features in person interviews and reliance on official documents.
Rob Rinder: Holocaust and PTSD - Rob Rinder is the English equivalent of Judge Judy and dare I say more biting then her. He explores how his grandfather made his way to England after surviving the Holocaust as well as his beloved grandmother's story.
Sir Patrick Stewart: Domestic Violence, Mental Health, PTSD, World War II - Stewart explores the connection to his father's service during the war to growing up in a domestic violence situation.
Charles Dance: Immigration - Dance never knew his father and he explores his father's story, discovering a half sister he never knew he had. This would be the number 2 celebrity I would recommend, just as a fun fill in for a class.
Additional recommendations: Lisa Kudrow, Susan Sarandon, Len Goodman, Rita Wilson
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The reviews are my opinions and should be treated as such. I just want to provide a tool for teachers to select documentaries for their classrooms.