WDYTYA? The Aftermath  

Posted by Abba-Dad in

I watched WDYTYA? last night with my wife (and almost 7 million others) and have to admit, we had a pretty good time. If you didn't get a chance to watch the first episode with Sarah Jessica Parker, you can do it right now:

I've been reading a lot of different reviews today and have to agree with most of them, but here is what stuck in my mind:

1. Wait a second, she comes from this big family and she's all about family and yet she had no idea who her great-grandmother was until the taping of this show? I find that hard to believe. I think this was just a setup for the show to be able to go and "discover" SJP's American roots.

2. The first thing I thought when they brought out the obit was that if the son was born in late September 1850 then his father couldn't have died in 1849. That would have been my first question when presented with the evidence and not "was he part of the gold rush?"

3. Geni.com published a family tree for SJP before the show aired. It had about 9 people in it. Today it looks like this and includes all the Hodges and Elwells:

You're going to need to click the image to see the a larger view of the tree. But I am surprised that the show didn't show a tree like this instead of the single vertical line that only showed parent-child relationships.

4. The funny thing is that a lot of the "findings" are pretty easy to replicate.

5. I wish they had followed the GPS to show why John S. Hodge in the 1850 census is the right one.

6. Only took about 11 minutes to mention Ancestry.com by name.

7. I wish they would have shown how they located the old letters detailing how John S. Hodge died.

8. I love some of the grandiose declarations such as "you find hundreds of documents like these."

9. One of my frustrations with Ancestry.com is that a lot of the database have no images. Here's the entry for Esther Elwell in the Salem Witches database:

Seriously, what does this give you? And I couldn't figure out how to find this entry through the regular search results. Because there are 348 results for the exact search of Esther Elwell and none of the categories are going to point me to the Salem Witches database:

10. By the way, if you do a Google search for Esther Elwell the first 5 pages of results (all I really checked) point you to a malware site. All the same site. Why would Google allow that to even happen? Someone did a great job of blasting the search engine and hoping people end up clicking one of those 50+ bogus links:

11. At some point in the show they show an Ancestry.com search and for some reason they use "old" search. I wonder why?

12. I wonder if they try to see if SJP's husband's tree (Matthew Broderick) overlap at all since they are both on the show.

13. I am surprised that the "young man with so much old information" couldn't have told SJP that Esther Elwell was not executed. I guess it's smart editing to make for good television.

14. I wish they would have said something about collaborating with other researchers because if you go to GenForum and look at the Elwell Family Forum and search for Esther Dutch you find this:
On page 12 of the Rev Jacob Thomas Elwell book "The Elwell Family in America", it says that Rachel Elwell was born Feb 21, 1688 (doesn't say where) and that she married Peter Lurvey. The timing is right.

Her parents were Jacob Elwell and Abigail Vinson. Jacob born Gloucester MA 8/10/1662.

Jacob's parents were Samuel Elwell and Esther Dutch. Samuel was born 1635 or 1636 in Dorchester MA. Esther was taken to Ipswich MA for examination on charges of witchcraft, but was released a week later.

15. They could have toned down the un-be-lievables and the wows a little. I wish I had a way (or time) to count the number of "incredible" and "amazing" that were said.

Anyway, I have a lot of other thoughts but I'm going to have to stop at this point. I loved the show and thought it was really well done. It captivates the audience and will probably encourage a lot of people to check out their own genealogies, so everyone wins. Sounds like Ancestry.com had a huge surge in traffic after the show with slow search times and general sluggishness.

Can't wait for next week!

This entry was posted on Saturday, March 6, 2010 at 10:20 PM and is filed under . You can follow any responses to this entry through the comments feed .


Hey, Abba-Dad, I enjoyed your comments. Right off the bat, No. 3 reminded me of something that struck me. At the end of the show, SJP goes home with the feeling that her genealogy is now complete! Wish someone would have said, "Sarah, the gold miner and the witch are but two of the many, many ancestors you might find a paper trail about." It always drives me nuts when someone, after hearing that I do genealogy, says "oh, my aunt already did ours." At the end of the show, I wish they would have shown SJP a 15-generation chart with all the known people filled in and all the blank spaces that are yet to be filled in. That would have been an eye-opener for a lot of viewers.

March 7, 2010 at 1:25 AM

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