[APG Public List] celebrity connections to royalty or famous historical people

Craig Kilby persisto at live.com
Fri Jun 25 17:05:07 MDT 2010

Sorry Elizabeth, I'll have to disagree with your reply. I don't disagree with what you say, but it doesn't address the questions being posed. And this is for a short and, one hopes, entertaining local radio program. I don't think it is a one-hour call-in show on NPR.  If that became an answer to something I was mildly interested in, I'd quickly switch stations.

I had written to Joan off list but what I wrote was much in the same vein as what Larry wrote. First, Joan is fortunate to have this question in advance. It is actually several questions, which can be distilled down to these:

1.	Why are so many people fascinated with being descended from royalty, nobility, or villainy?
2.	What are the chances that they are? (For 400 years ago, quite high, actually)
3.	At what point do they personally disconnect from their ancestry in general?

These are all good questions for a mass audience. The reply should reflect that.

I think it is important to keep the audience in mind. Whoever they are, I'm pretty sure they have no interest in sitting in on an NGS conference lecture. Like Larry, I suggested she turn the question around and talk about it in broader terms. For example, I suggested that she mention something like it has been estimated there about 20 million descendants of the Mayflower emigrants. Probably only 1% of them even know it (or even care).  Shows like Who Do You Think You Are? are popular for a reason: entertainment.

This is a good opportunity for Joan to shine in her local area. But my advice is ultimately the KISS maxim. I wish her all the best and hope she'll report back to us on how it went.

Craig Kilby

On Jun 25, 2010, at 3:24 PM, <eshown at comcast.net> <eshown at comcast.net> wrote:

> Joan wrote:
> >I have been asked to speak briefly with a radio host on Monday morning and would like to provide a broader opinion than my own on the following topic specifically at what point in going back do these connections lose any real meaning for us or our clients:
> >>"we want to know how anyone finds connections that old [e.g. to nobility or to royalty -their example is Count Vlad]– we’re so often hearing that some celebrity is related to another or something like that. We’d want to talk about the field of genealogy and how these connections are found. When does family connection lose meaning in your opinion? Just because they shared a relative 400 years ago, does that matter to people you’ve worked with? In your experience can we all find someone famous in our family tree if we look far enough back/ are we all related in some way if you go far enough back?"
>  >Any brief thoughts on this topic?
> Joan,
> The success of US and People magazines attest that the public is enamored with celebrities. No radio host should be surprised, then, that the public thinks it’s cool to be told they are related to nobility, royalty, or people of infamy. But, as we know, there is a vast difference between the public stereotype and the actual practice of genealogy.
> What the media does not ‘get’ is that genealogy is not about finding celebrities. It is history in microcosm. Each of us has our own way of describing what genealogy means to us. Mine would be this:
> Genealogy is about understanding ourselves and the influences that have made us who we are. It’s about understanding the men and women whose genes we carry and whose customs we cherish or purposefully reject. It’s about understanding the world we live in, and how the actions of past men and women shaped the issues we deal with today. It’s about understanding how the problems of those past societies shaped our forebears and how the individual choices they made affected their families and ultimately us.
> The Board for Certification of Genealogists’ website also has an ‘explanation’ of genealogy to which you might refer the radio host. It’s at the home page:www.bcgcertification.org.
> Elizabeth
> Elizabeth Shown Mills, CG, CGL, FASG
> Tennessee

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