Genealogy News: The Return of the U.S. TV Series “Who Do You Think You Are?”

Back in March 2012, NBC’s genealogy TV series called Who Do You Think You Are? ended its third season, after which the network decided not to renew it, shocking the millions of viewers that tuned in to watch well known celebrities research their ancestries. Recently, however, the series was picked up by TLC, with a new season beginning July 23 at 9/8c. According to the show’s website, the celebrities that the new season of Who Do You Think You Are? will feature include Kelly Clarkson, Christina Applegate, Chelsea Handler, Zooey Deschanel, Jim Parsons, Cindy Crawford, and Trisha Yearwood.

Click here to visit the new Who Do You Think You Are? website and view previews.

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Genealogy News: Justin Bieber, Ryan Gosling, & Avril Lavigne are Related

In October, Ancestry.com reported on their blog that pop singer Justin Bieber, actor Ryan Gosling, and singer Avril Lavigne are related. The article traces the descent of these three celebrities from early Quebec settlers Mathurin Roy and Marguerite Biré. As the following graphic illustrates, Ryan Gosling is Justin Bieber’s 11th cousin, 1x removed, and Avril Lavigne is Justin’s 12th cousin.

The article goes on to point out that in addition to being related to Ryan Gosling and Avril Lavigne, Justin Bieber is also related to pop-diva Celine Dion through another set of early Quebec settlers, Jacques Vezina and Marie Boisdon. Through their mutual descent from them, Justin and Celine are 10th cousins, 3x removed. Although not specifically mentioned in the article, it would appear that Ryan Gosling and Avril Lavigne may have a connection to Celine Dion as well, as the Dion surname appears in the ancestries of both of these celebrities, which can be seen in the graphic above.

Although this is not the most relevant news, it is nevertheless interesting to see how celebrities, like politicians, are related to one another. Furthermore, I imagine having the job of celebrity genealogist is a fun one to have. It’s a shame these four could not have been among the celebrities featured on a fourth season of Who Do You Think You Are?, which was cancelled after only three seasons earlier this year.

Genealogy News: Obama and Romney are Related

Genealogy and Politics is back in the news. GenealogyBank.com’s blog is reporting that President Barack Obama and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, the 2012 Presidential Candidates, are related to one another. Of course, anyone who has followed similar discussions in the past will not be surprised to learn that Presidential Candidates have ancestral connections. In the 2008 Presidential Race, it was reported that Barack Obama and John McCain are cousins. Additionally, it was reported in the 2004 Presidential Race that George W. Bush and John Kerry are cousins.

According to the segment of the post entitled “Obama & Romney are Related?” the two Presidential Candidates “are both direct descendants of King Edward I of England.” Although the post does not spell out each rung of descent from King Edward I for Obama or Romney, it does state that the height of each candidate may be the result of their descent from the 6’2” King of England known as “Longshanks.” (It is worth pointing out, that King Edward I was also the ancestral connection between Obama and John McCain.)

In addition to a shared ancestor, the post presents some other connections the two candidates have in common. They are both cousins to thirteen U.S. American presidents. They both have early American roots. They both have connections to Wild West outlaws, like Billy the Kid and Wild Bill Hickok.  Finally, they both have connections to several celebrities, like Brad Pitt and Elvis Presley for Obama, and Katherine Hepburn and Princess Diana for Romney.

The article, moreover, concludes with a brief discussion of the fact that both candidates’ fathers were foreign-born, with Obama’s father being born in Kenya and Romney’s father being born in Mexico.

To view the post from GenealogyBank.com’s blog, along with a nicely illustrated “Infographic,” please click here.

Genealogy News: U.S. TV Series “Who Do You Think You Are?” Cancelled

Back in 2010, an American genealogy documentary T.V. series premiered on NBC called Who Do You Think You Are?. The show was an American adaptation of the British T.V. series of the same name. Despite its popularity, NBC cancelled the show after its third season, which ended in May 2012.

The idea of the show, both in the U.S. and in Great Britain, was to showcase a different celebrity each week and document their journey in tracing their ancestry. In the U.S., celebrities like Sarah Jessica Parker, Matthew Broderick, Brook Shields, Susan Sarandon, Vanessa Williams, Rosie O’Donnell, Gwyneth Paltrow, Martin Sheen, Helen Hunt, Rob Lowe, and Paula Dean were featured among other celebrities. Each week, the show had an audience ranging between 5 and 7 million viewers.

Personally, I really enjoyed this series. Not only did the series highlight genealogy and show how it impacted the lives of each of the celebrities, but the stories presented were very compelling, ranging from ancestries including French Kings (Brook Shields) to Indentured Slaves (Reba McEntire). It is truly a shame that this series has been cancelled, while shows like America’s Got Talent remain on the air for an eighth season.

Click here to go to the official website for the series.

Genealogy News: President Obama’s Descent from John Punch

An interesting genealogy news story has become the topic of some discussion recently regarding the family history of President Obama. This time it is not regarding his place of birth; rather it is about his maternal descent from John Punch, the first (or one of the first) African slaves for life in America. Genealogists at Ancestry.com have found evidence that they feel confident proves that John Punch is the 11th great-grandfather of the President.

The following is a chart that shows the relationship reported by Ancestry.com:

Although the genealogists are confident in their findings, it has been noted that the ancestral relationship between John Punch and the President involves assumptions. If true, this ancestral connection of President Obama certainly makes an interesting historic and symbolic statement: not only is Barack Obama the first African-American President, but a descendant of the (or one of the) first African slaves in America.

To read more about the relationship between President Obama and John Punch, view the following articles released by Ancestry.com: