"Genealogy Roadshow" returns Jan. 13 for its second season on PBS, and it will feature a group of genealogy experts traveling to New Orleans, Philadelphia and St. Louis to help participants discover their family histories.
The format of the show is simple: Three genealogy experts travel to a new city and residents apply to have their family histories revealed. The typical participant has trouble discovering the identity of just one of their ancestors, but the show's genealogists reveal remarkable stories behind the mysterious family member.
Gail Lukasik, 68, a mystery author from Chicago, applied to be on the show's second season after having fallen in love with the first season. Although she spends her time solving mysteries for a living, she could not discover the identity of her grandfather without the help of the show's genealogists.
"They were quite detailed and extensive while doing this," said Lukasik, whose story will be shown on the Jan. 20 episode. "The show went even further back than my grandfather."
"Genealogy Roadshow" reveals the identities and stories of participants' ancestors, but it also shows the methods and sources used by genealogists to make these discoveries, such as census reports and birth certificates. The show also gives lessons in American and world history in order to describe the pivotal role that some ancestors had in the past.
Mary Tedesco is one of three genealogy experts who host the show this season. She specializes in Italian/American genealogy and wanted to do the show as a way of inspiring people to do more of their family history.
"My favorite thing about this show is that people share their stories with such passion," Tedesco said. "It's a wonderful combination of mystery, nostalgia and excitement. I just can't get enough of it."
Lukasik was euphoric to discover her family's history but said the joy of genealogy does not depend on the significance of one's ancestors in history.
"We all think we know who we are, but when we really start digging into our ancestries, we may find some surprises about our past along the way," Lukasik said.
"Genealogy Roadshow" airs on Tuesdays for the next six weeks.