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Our American Family – A New Television Series on PBS

I’m excited to tell you about a new television series on PBS entitled Our American Family. This week I was able to speak with Steve Young, one of the producers of the series and I learned more about the pilot episode which features his own family.

What is Our American Family? from Our American Family on Vimeo.

Our American Family – The Youngs

The pilot episode, Our American Family – The Youngs, is about a family in Northern Mississippi as told by the siblings who were born during the 1920s and 1930s.  Here’s a preview clip:

You can learn more about the pilot episode and the series by visiting  At the website families can apply to be a part of the series, watch a preview of scenes from Our American Family – The Youngs and later, view bonus material related to the show – more sibling bios, family recipes, etc.

Why Our American Family Matters

I’m honored to say I’ve been given a sneak preview to the entire 30 minute episode and not only was it thoroughly enjoyable, but it really gave me a sense of what this family endured during the 1900 – 1950 time period. Through re-enactments, voice overs from family members and touching photographs, viewers learn what it was like to raise children during the Great Depression and then send many of them off to war in the 1940s.

In addition, while I’ve enjoyed episodes of Who Do You Think You Are? there is something to be said for having non-celebrities and their family histories depicted on television.  In speaking with Steve Young, I got to understand one of the important concepts of the series:

“Everyday families have extraordinary stories. Our American Family seeks to document our American family heritage, one family at a time, and inspire viewers to capture their own family stories – before those voices are gone.”

I couldn’t agree more.   I’m hoping that Our American Family will not only increase the awareness of the general public about genealogy and family history, but also the need to document family history NOW and not after our family members have left us.

When Does Our American Family Air? Your Help Is Needed

In my conversations with Steve Young, I also learned more about how the series will air on PBS and actually much more about PBS affiliates etc.  Here is what’s involved with the Our American Family series:

The pilot episode, Our American Family – The Youngs, will be available for the PBS local affiliates to broadcast soon.  The affiliate will decide whether or not to air the episode based on public interest in the series and the topic of family history.

So what does this mean and what can you do?  Here is how your help is needed:

  • Contact your local PBS affiliate NOW and ask them to air the pilot episode of Our American Family for broadcast.
  • Get your family and friends to also contact your local PBS affiliate and also make the same request.
  • Follow Our American Family on social media (see below) and share the links with your social media contacts.
The more requests, the better the chances that not only will the pilot episode air, but the remaining 12 episodes in the series will be successful.  The genealogy and family history community needs to use its voice to speak up and let broadcasters like PBS know that we want to see more family history-oriented programming like Our American Family.

Apply to Have Your Family Depicted on Our American Family

Keeping with the concept of depicting everyday American families, you can apply here to have  your family and its history considered for an upcoming episode of Our American Family. If your family has compelling stories and artifacts including documents and images from the 1900 – 1950 time period, consider applying to be a part of this great series and share your family’s history.

Follow Our American Family on Social Media

One final thing you can do to help this series become a success is to follow it on social media using these links:

And not just follow . . . become part of the conversation about the need to preserve family history while the voices of our family members are still loud, clear and accessible.

©2012, copyright Thomas MacEntee


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