Skip to main content

A Quick Opinion about the Helen Hunt Episode (WDYTYA?)

The Helen Hunt episode of Who Do You Think You Are? did not take us to any deep south locales, but I won't hold that against her. I think a mention on this blog is still well deserved.

Since the episode aired, I have read some criticisms -- the show was boring, all Ms. Hunt did was mumble, and her reactions were too subdued (to name a few). Conversely, I thoroughly enjoyed this episode. I like that there were a lot of questions her father could not answer -- how many times has that happened to us "real folk?" I like that Ms. Hunt had felt connections to places in the past but didn't know why, and was now learning those connections were real and tangible. She even mentioned she felt as though little pieces inside her were "waking up."

George S. Hunt (1829-1896)
Augusta M. Hunt (1842-1932)

Evergreen Cemetery
Portland, Maine

Photo by timcdfw
via FindAGrave
The women's history lessons learned were awesome. I like how Ms. Hunt had a certain image of her ancestor Augusta Barstow Hunt, solely on learning she was a member of the Women's Christian Temperance Union, then had that image enhanced by truly learning and understanding the history surrounding the organization. She learned that alcohol abuse in the home was only a small part of it. That fighting for women's rights in even broader ways was the intent and result. You could clearly see respect for Augusta was gained based on the research, and by the end of the episode, a relationship with someone she never knew clearly had been formed. I was proud for her!

As far as Ms. Hunt's verbal responses to what she was learning -- I dare say she was one of the most "normal" of all the participants in all the seasons. She was not on stage, acting in a role for our benefit. She was a woman on a journey through her family history, asking pertinent questions and taking in the information provided.

Seeing Helen Hunt putting together scrapbooks for her daughter in the beginning of the episode, I trust she definitely will be passing on the stories she learned about her ancestors. What more can we ask for?

The one criticism I would offer regarding this episode (and all the ones before, for that matter) of WDYTYA? is the lack of process. How in the world were these discoveries made? I understand the time constraints, but getting people excited about their family history is only the first step. Teaching them, even in small ways, how to conduct research will keep those truly interested going. And those are the ones who will more likely join the genealogy community (online and off) to grow in their research. Those are the ones who will take a more active role in their local societies, as well as things of and relating to history in general. Those are the ones who will stand up and offer their time in a cemetery cleanup. Those are the ones who will become blog readers and blog writers. And, yes, those are the ones who will decide if, when, and where to spend their hard-earned money -- genealogically speaking.


Unknown said…
I'm with you. This episode was one of my favorites. Guess I took the journey along with Helen Hunt: My first reaction to WCTU was biased and uninformed also!

Popular posts from this blog

Rocks, Rocks, and More Rocks

Why do people put rocks on grave stones? Some time ago, I learned that the rocks signified a visitor. That is true enough, but I decided to learn a little more about the custom and share my findings with you. Putting rocks on tombstones is most often described as a Jewish custom. There are many "Ask a Rabbi" columns out there, but I did not find one that knew for sure where the custom originated. They all agreed, however, that a rock symbolized a visitor and when put on a tombstone said, "I remember you." I also read that some people pick up a rock wherever they are when they think of a person that has passed. Then, the next time they visit the grave, they place the rock to say, "I wish you were here." Rabbi Shraga Simmons offers a deeper meaning: "We are taught that it is an act of ultimate kindness and respect to bury someone and place a marker at the site. After a person is buried, of course, we can no longer participate in burying them. H

Southern Cross of Honor

I'm late to this discussion, but it's one I'd like to join. :-) Terry Thornton at The Graveyard Rabbit of the Hill Country started with Grave Marker Symbols: The Southern Cross of Honor and UCV (link no longer available). Judith Shubert at The Graveyard Rabbit of the Covered Bridges continued with Hood County Texas: C.S.A. Veterans & Southern Cross of Honor Symbol . [UPDATE, 1 June 2009: Judith has moved this post to the blog, Cemeteries with Texas Ties . The link has been corrected to reflect this move. You may also link to her article via her nice comment on this post.] Wikipedia states: The Southern Cross of Honor was a military decoration meant to honor the officers, noncommissioned officers, and privates for their valor in the armed forces of the Confederate States of America during the American Civil War. It was formally approved by the Congress of the Confederate States on October 13, 1862, and was originally intended to be on par with the Union Arm

Thursday Link Love: EyeWitness To History

Yesterday, a link was added to the Genealogy Research Resources Group at Diigo. The link was to the website titled EyeWitness to History through the eyes of those who lived it . It's a great site, and I encourage all to visit it. Here are several items I found while snooping around. - Inside a Nazi Death Camp, 1944 : "Hitler established the first concentration camp soon after he came to power in 1933. The system grew to include about 100 camps divided into two types: concentration camps for slave labor in nearby factories and death camps for the systematic extermination of "undesirables" including Jews, Gypsies, homosexuals, the mentally retarded and others." - Crash of the Hindenburg, 1937 : "Radio reporter Herbert Morrison, sent to cover the airship's arrival, watched in horror. His eye witness description of the disaster was the first coast-to-coast radio broadcast and has become a classic piece of audio history." [You ca

The hand of the Lord came upon me and brought me out in the Spirit of the Lord, and set me down in the midst of the valley; and it was full of bones. Then He caused me to pass by them all around, and behold, there were very many in the open valley; and indeed they were very dry. And He said to me, "Son of man, can these bones live?"

So I answered, "O Lord God, You know."

Again He said to me, "Prophesy to these bones, and say to them, 'O dry bones, hear the word of the Lord!' Thus says the Lord God to these bones: 'Surely I will cause breath to enter into you, and you shall live...'" (Ezekiel 37:1-5, NKJV)