Case Studies on Family History

Every Generation is keen to collect and share examples of best practice of people researching their family history. If you like to write a feature article or a short case study please register as a contributor on our website or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Roots Revisited and Alex Hailey

Alex Hailey and family Over the last 60 years many people from the diaspora have started to undertake family history research. The most celebrated example is by African–American Alex Haley. ‘Roots’ his seminal book and television series from the 1970s based on research of his family in Gambia. Since then Gambia has become a major cultural tourist destination and the Roots Homecoming Festival promotes dialogue and offers a place of pilgrimage to people of the African diaspora from around the world wanting to connect culturally, emotionally and socially to Africa.

A family history trail has been established in Gambia based on Alex Haley’s research that includes St James Island, a slave fort built in 1651 on the river Gambia. The village Jufureh, home of Kunta Kinte, a descendant of Alex Haley and the main character in Roots, is the focal point here and cultural tourists can meet members of the existing Kinte family. Visitors also have the opportunity to take part in a rites of passage ceremony and learn traditional dances, often performed in front of the President of Gambia.

New cultural events continue to develop across Africa such a Panafest in Ghana and Emancipation Day across the Caribbean

See further information on cultural tours in African, Caribbean and North America
More information on the seminal book and television of ‘Roots’ - Alex Haley - Roots Article

Patrick Vernon

Patrick VernonInterviews and articles on Patrick Vernon tracing his family tree in Jamaica and using DNA in finding his roots in Senegal

Jamaica Gleaner BBC Research London Facebook
Motherland: A genetic journey

MotherlandThe first major television programme by the BBC to focus on Caribbean family history using DNA.

For more information Case Study Motherland - Google Search

Who Do You Think You Are?The successful BBC series on celebrities tracing their family history
John Barnes

Image for John Barnes This clip is from Who Do You Think You Are? Series 9, John Barnes
John Barnes learns of the role his grandfather played in Jamaica's struggle for self-rule.

First broadcast: 17 Oct 2012

Colin Jackson

Image for Colin JacksonWebsite info Who Do You Think You Are? Colin Jackson
Colin was born and brought up in Wales, but knows that his parents came from Jamaica in the 1960s. Given the range of ethnic backgrounds associated with Jamaica, Colin's quest revolves around trying to piece together his mixed heritage.

Moira Stuart

Image for Moira StuartWebsite info Who Do You Think You Are? Moira Stuart
Moira Stuart says that she has always felt 'global', with rumours of Carib and Cape Verdean blood circulating in family legend, and a family history characterised by movement and change.

Hugh Quarshie

Image for Hugh QuarshieWebsite info Who Do You Think You Are? Hugh Quarshie
Hugh Quarshie was born in Accra, Ghana, & moved to Britain with his parents as a small child. Hugh knows there is Dutch ancestry in his family, but doesn't know where that bloodline began.

Ainsley Harriot

Image for Ainsley HarriotWebsite info Who Do You Think You Are? Ainsley Harriot
Ainsley Harriott travelled to the West Indies to uncover his roots and soon discovered that Caribbean history isn't quite as 'black and white' as he'd imagined.

Empire’s Children

Channel 4 programmes on celebrities tracing their family history.

Adrian Lester

Image for Adrian LesterWebsite info Empire’s Children - Adrian Lester
Actor Adrian Lester's grandfather James travelled from the West Indies to Britain in the 1950s. In this programme, Adrian sets off for Jamaica where his 89-year-old grandfather returned some years before.

The Last Slave

The Last SlaveChannel 4 programme The Last Slave follows the personal journey of David Montieff, a youth drugs worker from London, as he travels to Jamaica and Nigeria to examine the history of his ancestor, one of the last Africans enslaved by British slave traders before the Abolition Act of 1807. Contact Music Blog

Paul Crooks: Ancestors

TPublicationsPaul Crooks based in London has traced his family tree from Jamaica to Ghana and has written two books, A Tree Without Roots & Ancestors.

See YouTube interview with Paul with Kara Miller on Trial Blazers

African American LivesHarvard Professor Henry Louis Gates TV programme featuring high profile African American celebrities sharing their family history in a similar format to 'Who Do You Think You Are?'

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