Dick Eastman (in his recap of the Helen Hunt episode, http://bit.ly/H6KXsp) states, in so many words, that he can identify with Helen Hunt's episode on WDYTYA because, in part, it didn't reference slavery, terrible crimes, or anything else sensationalized. Helen Hunt's family tree, with its mixed stories of wealth and poverty, is typical of millions of Americans; and as such Mr. Eastman can identify with this episode.
I, too, can identify with this episode.
Persecution, civil rights, and human rights are a part of the stories in my family tree. Anti-Semitism is just as awful and heinous as American slavery. Ms. Hunt's ancestors were able to dodge a nasty bullet by changing their name from Rothenberg to Roberts. That's a HUGE genealogical point to consider.
Alcoholism must be seen as a terrible crime. The Women's Christian Temperance Union, or WCTU, was pointing out the resultant behavior of excessive drinking - the beatings and abuses to women, adults, and children - was the crime. How many people escaped that environment and changed their names? Helen's ancestors profited from such behavior. They made their fortune by importing sugar that went into the making of rum.
They also fought it; her 2nd great grandmother was a member of the WCTU. She fought for women's right to vote and was able to cast her ballot before she died. My ancestors and elders had to fight for the right to vote as recent as 1964 and today.
Those are significant genealogical take-aways from this episode.
More than once did Helen Hunt want to know where the money in her family came from and how was it made. She is happy to be associated with the Wells Fargo Bank by way of ancestry. It's the same bank that used predatory lending practices and has foreclosed mortgages on millions of Americans.
So yes, we both can identify with this episode if only for different reasons. Helen Hunt's family tree really is typical of millions of Americans - but in so many different ways. And that's why this episode of WDYTYA was so good.
The episode can be seen online at http://bit.ly/H6M2QT
Peace & Blessings,
"Guided by the Ancestors"