Family History Saturates American Pop Culture & Advertising

You can find references to genealogy everywhere in America these days.

In a current Capital One TV commercial, Alec Baldwin and “the boys” use their double miles to fly home for their family reunion.

Family Reunion Capital One Venture Card Commercial

So opens the familiar Capital One ad—this works because of the underpinning of family reunions in our lives. With quick one-liners and unexpected zingers, this is one of the funniest “genealogy”-based ads created by DDB.com.

Genealogy research was the key to solving a recent case on NCIS-Los Angeles and constantly comes up in TV sitcoms & mysteries, and in novels. From Harry Potter to Despicable Me—it’s everywhere.

harry potter family tree

Credit: Wikipedia and Warner Brothers.

Family history is critical to the plot in the Harry Potter series. In every page we see that key events happen because of the intertwined branches of the family tree of the charters in this popular wizard’s family saga.

The 2004 BBDO (New York, New York) ads for Cingular/AT&T capture the pull that family and family trees have in American culture.

AT&T / Cingular Family Tree Commerical – BBDO

What references to family history are you seeing in popular culture? Tell us about them in the comments section.

How Did You Get Started as a Genealogist? Share Your Story with Us!

A Louisiana newspaper in 1853 said of family historians that “their memory is a forest planted with genealogical trees.” How true that is!
Daily Picayune (New Orleans, Louisiana), 25 October 1853, page 5.

After years of family history research many genealogists have had all types of “Eureka!” moments and breakthroughs, when they found a particular newspaper article or government record in their genealogical research that filled in gaps on their family trees.

My breakthrough moment as a genealogist was finding an 1811 real estate ad for my great-great-great-great-great grandfather’s farm in Maine. Aging sea captain James Garcelon (1739-1813) was selling his farm and moving in with his son William. The newspaper ad gave a terrific description of my ancestor’s property: a two-story house “very pleasantly situated” on 150 acres “with a handsome young orchard” and featuring two barns, outhouses, and “an excellent well of water.” Portland Gazette and Maine Advertiser. (Portland, Maine), 25 February 1811, page 4.

When I read this real estate ad, I could really picture my ancestor’s farm. I grew up on old farm property in New Hampshire. There were cellar holes where the homes and barns had once stood, wild apple trees, and with a little priming the well still gave ice cold water—and all around us stretched the long-idle fields. Maybe it was like my ancestor’s Garcelon Farm in the 1700s?

Thinking back on your own family history research—what first got you interested in genealogy? What was your most surprising genealogical discovery? What have you learned about your family along the way? What are your most prized genealogical discoveries? GenealogyBank wants to hear from you! Tell us your story.