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Genealogy is a growing part of the reality TV trend

Genealogy is getting a double dose of star treatment on television this season.

The popular NBC series “Who Do You Think You Are” began its third season last week, and next month PBS will begin a 10-part series called “Finding Your Roots” with historian Henry Louis Gates Jr.

The lineup for “Who Do You Think You Are” includes Martin Sheen, Marisa Tomei, Blair Underwood, Reba McEntire, Rob Lowe, Helen Hunt, Rita Wilson, Edie Falco, Rashida Jones, Jerome Bettis, Jason Sudeikis and Paula Deen. The show airs at 8 p.m. on Fridays.

The PBS series will deviate a bit from its NBC counterpart by featuring two people on each one-hour show. Not all participants have been identified, but they include Kevin Bacon and wife Kyra Sedgewick, Robert Downey Jr., Martha Stewart, Condoleeza Rice and Barbara Walters.

Gates’ interviews will begin airing March 25, but the time varies on different PBS channels.

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Tampa Chapter 113, United Daughters of the Confederacy, will meet at 10:45 a.m. Saturday at the Columbia Restaurant in Ybor City. Members Joanne Baldy, Katherine Rizzo and Mary Winn will present short stories about their Confederate ancestors. This is a luncheon meeting. Those interested in attending should contact Frances Nettles at for reservations.

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The Jewish Genealogical Society of Tampa Bay will offer a two-session seminar titled “The JGSTB 2012 Guide to Jewish Genealogy Research: A Foundation for Beginners and an Update for Experienced Researchers” at 2 p.m. Feb. 12 (Part 1) and March 11 (Part 2) at Gulf Coast Jewish Family Services, 14041 Icot Blvd., Clearwater.  Registration will be at 1:30 p.m. on both dates.  

The course is free to paid-up members of the Jewish Genealogical Society of Tampa Bay.  A $10 fee will be charged for seminar materials to defray printing costs of a seminar booklet summarizing materials in the seminar. Only one booklet will be needed per couple or family.  Annual membership in the Jewish Genealogical Society of Tampa Bay is $25 per individual or family.

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Local lecturer Debra Fleming will lecture on “Newspaper Resources: Following the Lead” at the Feb. 21 meeting of the South Bay Genealogical Society.

This group meets at 11:30 a.m. at the SouthShore Regional Library, 15816 Beth Shields Way, Ruskin. Luncheon starts at noon; program begins at 1 p.m.

Reservations are required no later than Feb. 14. A check for $13 should be sent to the society at P. O. Box 5202, Sun City Center, FL 33573. Follow up with a phone call to Beth Clark at (813) 642-9329 for a meal selection.

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Local researchers also should plan to head over to Polk County on March 3 to hear the highly entertaining George Schweitzer at a daylong seminar sponsored by the Imperial Polk Genealogical Society.

Known for his in-character presentations, Schweitzer will appear in colonial costume for his lecture “North-South Colonial Migration Routes,” and he’ll dress as a railroad engineer for “Rivers to Trails to Roads to Canals to Trains.” He also will speak on “Obscure Genealogical Sources (Very Important, Rarely-Recognized Sources).”

Schweitzer is a distinguished professor at the University of Tennessee and holds multiple degrees in chemistry, history and religion. He will sell books and videos at the seminar.

The presentation will be in the Charles Thrift Building (Atrium room) at Florida Southern College, 111 Lake Hollingsworth Drive in Lakeland. Registration will begin at 8 a.m. and the seminar will run from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Pre-registration is $40 for society members and $45 for nonmembers. The fee is $50 for all walk-ins. A continental breakfast and lunch are included in the price.

A registration form is online at

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