Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Genealogy Roadshow: St. Louis - Central Library (S2E2)

This episode of Genealogy Roadshow aired on Tuesday, January 20, 2015 on PBS. I viewed it online at http://video.pbs.org/video/2365401745/ and it will be available at that URL until February 17, 2015.

For this episode, they were in downtown St. Louis at the Central Library. There the show's genealogists met with a woman interested in learning more about her great-grandmother's immigration from Italy to America to marry a cowboy, a woman seeking a connection to the pirate Blackbeard, a young man with Asperger's Syndrome looking for his genetic origin in Africa, and a mystery writer who's mother had a hidden secret that she can final explore.

As fascinating as that all sounds, honestly, I was a little underwhelmed by this episode. Regardless, I do like to watch the guests' reactions to the family history reveals. Sometimes there is shock, sometimes there are tears, sometimes there is elation. In this episode, I especially loved the reaction of the young man who wanted to know about his African ancestry. 

If you know any children who are diagnosed as being on the autism spectrum you may often observe what seems to be a disconnection from the world around them. Often they lack the ability to communicate verbally or demonstrate empathy. In general, someone with Asperger's typically does not react the in the way one would expect. Sometimes they don't react at all; not even to things that should make they joyful, like receiving a birthday present. 

One aspect of the condition that I find most fascinating is that often the person will an intense interest in one specific, narrow topic. They somehow can connect with one topic. They are able to collect volumes upon volumes of detailed information relative to one narrow - granted, they don't necessarily having a genuine understanding of the broader topic but still.

This young man was very interested in genealogy. And when Josh Taylor revealed to him that his DNA absolutely confirmed this young man's suspicion, that his African ancestors did indeed come from the Mali Empire, the boy's face lit up.

Genealogy research absolutely provides emotional connections for researchers. Sometimes a genealogy find will make me feel like that on the inside but his expression was priceless. If you watch the episode for no other reason than that, it will be well worth it.

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