Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Earth Shattering Family History for Fred Armisen

Did you know October is Family History Month? 

Yeah, I knew too but I've been so crazy busy that I haven't planned anything special. Typically, I try to do some project to enhance my personal family history research. In the past I have turned my blog over to guest cousin writers, written biographies on each of my direct ancestors, traveled to far flung cemeteries on a weekly basis, etc. etc. etc. 

This year I didn't plan anything but this morning I realized I am watching Finding Your Roots every week with my dad. He mostly uses it to fall asleep to but since I too am apparently half-assing Family History Month, I find this acceptable.

Have you been watching Finding Your Roots?

I loved Fred Armisen's family story which was in last night's episode (October 10, 2017). He is the grandson of a thought-to-be Japanese famous dancer turned WWII spy. As my almost 5 year-old niece Sofie would say in a sharp, short, voice, "What?!" It was absolutely mind blowing. 

Armisen barely knew his grandfather so certainly there would be surprising revelations. He had only met his grandfather a handful of times in his life. He knew he was a Japanese dancer and choreographer; at least he thought he was. Not only did he did not know of his grandfather's role as a spy, he also did not know his true ethnic origin, original name, and the fact that there is a museum in Japan dedicated to his art. What the what?!?!

Now I have learned some surprising facts about my ancestors but nothing quite as Earth shattering as a museum about them. Jeez-Louise.

Additionally, the researchers were able to find a chokbo which is a Korean book of genealogy that traced Armisen's family back to the 1600's. For a man who knew so little when he started the episode he certainly left with a tremendous amount of information; more than most people find in a lifetime of research.

At the end of the episode they showed clips of Armisen visiting the museum and seeing images of his grandfather's works and costumes. Just amazing!

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