• “Who Do You Think You Are”, Episodes 1 & 2: Family Lore

    “Who Do You Think You Are” begins each episode by saying To know who you are, you have to know where your story began.  Those words could not ring truer than in the first two episodes of season three.




    Episode One: Martin Sheen

    With a colorful history of his own, Mr. Sheen has made headlines for his efforts as a civil activist supporting issues from liberal politics to environmental concerns. It was hardly a surprise to learn that his passionate outspoken nature may stem from ancestral roots on both sides of his family.

    Mr. Sheen begins his genealogy journey with a little family lore. The subject of this family tree investigation is Michael Phelan, an uncle on his mother’s side, who was reportedly a volunteer in the Irish Republican Army.

    To help Mr. Sheen uncover the truth behind the family tale, “Who Do You Think You Are” applies a number of research methods and utilizes all relevant resources.

    In the first part of this episode, we see genealogical research conducted through an examination of:

  • Online databases such as Ancestry.com to view digital images of civil records
  • A Visit to Dublin’s Military Archives to dig up an application for pension
  • Consultation with an expert on the Irish Civil War
  • A visit to a prison where Mr. Sheen’s activist uncle was incarcerated during the war

    The discoveries made during this systematic process uncovered an unexpected truth. For years, Mr. Sheen’s family had believed that their legendary ancestor fought on the side of the IRA. However, his visit to the Military Archives revealed that Michael Phelan actually fought for the opposing side…the Irish National Army.

    Episode Two: Marisa Tomei

    Marisa Tomei was the guest on the second episode of “Who Do You think You Are” season three.  In this episode family lore also plays a big part in the Tomei family’s desire to dig in to their past.

    The subject of the story is Marisa’s Great Grandfather Leopoldo, who was murdered for uncertain reasons. Family legend hints that the murder was motivated by a possible love affair or a debt he owed, shedding an unflattering light on this notorious ancestor.

    As the Tomei story unfolds, “Who Do You Think You Are” takes us on a trip to Italy where Marisa wades through a maze of documents, research resources and consultations with experts who help her to examine:

  • Newspaper archives
  • Church registries
  • Municipal records
  • Historical Archives
  • Court Documents

    However, before she leaves Marissa visits her mother who has uses a well know genealogy database to make a family tree.

    Perhaps one of the most enjoyable components of family tree research is the family history aspect. Learning the truth behind stories passed from generation to generation. Often these stories have a grain of truth, rarely is it ever the whole truth as we see in the first two episodes of season three.

    If you missed this episode of “Who Do You Think You Are”, join us in the forum The Discovery Panel for a link to where you can watch the episode online free.  You didn’t think I was going to ruin the ending did you?  Also, join us for a genealogy research tip based on the first two episodes.

    Image Credit: Rav 7 Via Photobucket

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