The second season of Who Do You Think You Are (WDYTYA) aired tonight starring Vanessa Williams. Although I thoroughly enjoyed last season, I really liked the format this year. They did not recap after commercials as they did last year, but continued from one ancestor’s story to another. It kept me interested and feeling quite emotional as Vanessa learned of her family’s heritage.
Her father was a teacher, and she discovered her ancestor, William Feilds was an African American teacher in Tennessee not too many years after the Civil War, when most blacks were punished for even learning to read or write. This meant a lot to her. William Feilds was also elected to the Tennessee Legislature in 1878; during his term he stressed the importance of children attending school. William Field’s son, Cyrus W. Fields graduated LeMoyne- Owen College in Memphis the year that William died. William’s wife, Elizabeth Feilds (same last name), died a few years later in 1914 at the age of 55. They were both buried at Tyler Chapel Cemetery in Memphis, Tennessee.
More on William A. Feilds and his life can be found here!
I was excited that Vanessa was given two pictures of her ancestors. I get so excited to find pictures of my ancestors, so I can just imagine how she felt. But, more so to get one of her earliest ancestor that had been born a slave. Another moment that stood out for me is when she viewed the document of her great great grandfather, David Carl, and it asked if he were a slave. Instead of the typical “No”, her ancestor wrote, “Never.” He had been born a free man. She was given a picture of him in his Union uniform.
Vanessa said how much she wished her father could have known all the family ancestry she had learned. It really struck home on how important it is to share with our families the history we have learned. It is also important to take advantage of gaining family information and documents when the moment arises. We do not know when those chances will occur again and if our loved ones will be around to hear about it.
After the show aired, Thomas MacEntee, founder of GeneaBloggers and High-Definition Genealogy, hosted a GeneaBloggers Radio segment to discuss the show WDYTYA featuring Vanessa Williams and other topics that came up. Viewers were urged to call in; the first call in was J. Mark Lowe from Tennessee and many other genealogist were on hand either calling in or participating in the chat room. It was a great night for those interested in Family History.
I look forward to next Friday evening when Tim McGraw will have his ancestor’s researched. If tonight's show is any indication of future episodes, I will predict that the show will have another quite successful season!