The Research Process for Sarah Jessica Parker’s Genealogy

Who Do You Think You Are?

We just received the following information from Ancestry as to the research process used during the first episode of Who Do You Think You Are? with Sarah Jessica Parker:

First Steps First

Similar to Sarah Jessica Parker’s own assumptions at the beginning of the show, research on the tree began with vague ideas that her family was comprised of recent immigrants. The team first developed a skeleton of Sarah Jessica’s family history. “We documented every connection and every life event for her ancestors,” says Natalie Cottrill of ProGenealogists, who appeared with Sarah Jessica in the episode, “finding information about Sarah Jessica’s family in court records, newspaper articles, books, and personal letters published in books.” And that’s how they found John S. Hodge.

The First Nugget

The first clue about Joh S. Hodge’s life came from his son’s obituary, which stated that Joh S. Hodge died in 1849 on his way to California from Ohio. Since the death date came from an obituary written decades after Joh S. Hodge died, the team looked for primary sources recorded during or around the anticipated lifespan for Joh S. Hodge. For starters, the team wanted to determine why the ancestral Joh S. Hodge was going to California, as the son’s obituary stated. Considering the time period – 1849 – it seemed probable that Joh S. Hodge could have been heading to the California gold fields.

The Right John?

The search led to a John Hodge, who was the right age to be Sarah Jessica’s ancestor, listed as a miner in the 1850 U.S. Federal Census for El Dorado County, California. This record shifted research to determining whether the California John Hodge was the ancestral John S. Hodge, and the researchers turned to records associated with the 49ers. “We found a letter written by someone in Ohio to John S. Hodge, which had been published in a book,” says Natalie. “One of my colleagues tracked down the original set of letters, which provided more details, including information about John S. Hodge’s 1950 death.” Estate and other documents further confirmed that the ancestral John S. Hodge and the California miner John Hodge was the same individual.

Thank you to Anastasia Tyler, PR & Events Manager at Ancestry for keeping us updated!

© 2010, copyright Thomas MacEntee

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