Cover image for Finding your roots : the official companion to the PBS series
Finding your roots : the official companion to the PBS series
Gates, Henry Louis, Jr.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Chapel Hill : The University of North Carolina Press, [2014]
Physical Description:
xiv, 330 pages ; 25 cm
The author investigates the geneological histories of twenty-five prominent Americans, including Cory Booker, Martha Stewart, and Michelle Rodriguez.
General Note:
Includes index.
Foreword / by David Altshuler -- Genetic gumbo : Branford Marsalis and Harry Connick Jr. -- The long arc of freedom : John Lewis and Cory Booker -- What's in a name? : Barbara Walters and Geoffrey Canada -- Redemption : Kyra Sedgwick and Kevin Bacon -- The children of Abraham : Rick Warren, Angela Buchdahl, and Yasir Qadhi -- From the Old World to the New : Robert Downey Jr. and Maggie Gyllenhaal -- Shadows : Samuel L. Jackson, Condoleezza Rice, and Ruth Simmons -- Crossings : Margaret Cho, Sanjay Gupta, and Martha Stewart -- Neither slave nor free : Wanda Sykes, John Legend, and Margarett Cooper -- In the footsteps of conquistadors : Michelle Rodriguez, Linda Chavez, and Adrian Grenier.
Added Uniform Title:
Finding your roots (Television program)
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
CS16 .G365 2014 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area
CS16 .G365 2014 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
CS16 .G365 2014 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf

On Order



Who are we, and where do we come from? The fundamental drive to answer these questions is at the heart of Finding Your Roots , the companion book to the PBS documentary series seen by 30 million people. As Harvard scholar Henry Louis Gates Jr. shows us, the tools of cutting-edge genomics and deep genealogical research now allow us to learn more about our roots, looking further back in time than ever before. Gates's investigations take on the personal and genealogical histories of more than twenty luminaries, including United States Congressman John Lewis, actor Robert Downey Jr., CNN medical correspondent Sanjay Gupta, President of the "Becoming American Institute" Linda Chavez, and comedian Margaret Cho. Interwoven with their moving stories of immigration, assimilation, strife, and success, Gates provides practical information for amateur genealogists just beginning archival research on their own families' roots, and he details the advances in genetic research now available to the public. The result is an illuminating exploration of who we are, how we lost track of our roots, and how we can find them again.

Author Notes

Henry Louis Gates, Jr. was born on September 16, 1950, in Keyser, West Virginia. He received a degree in history from Yale University in 1973 and a Ph.D. from Clare College, which is part of the University of Cambridge in 1979. He is a leading scholar of African-American literature, history, and culture. He began working on the Black Periodical Literature Project, which uncovered lost literary works published in 1800s. He rediscovered what is believed to be the first novel published by an African-American in the United States. He republished the 1859 work by Harriet E. Wilson, entitled Our Nig, in 1983.

He has written numerous books including Colored People: A Memoir, A Chronology of African-American History, The Future of the Race, Black Literature and Literary Theory, and The Signifying Monkey: Towards a Theory of Afro-American Literary Criticism. In 1991, he became the head of the African-American studies department at Harvard University. He is now the director of the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for African and African-American Research at the university.

He wrote and produced several documentaries including Wonders of the African World, America Beyond the Color Line, and African American Lives. He has also hosted PBS programs such as Wonders of the African World, Black in Latin America, and Finding Your Roots.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

In this companion to the PBS documentary series of the same name, Harvard scholar Gates plumbs the genealogical roots and genomic background of celebrities and prominent figures, from entertainers to civil rights activists. Where does the musical talent of Branford Marsalis and Harry Connick Jr. come from? Where does the activist spirit in John Lewis and Cory Booker come from? How did Jewish Barbara Walters and American-born and -raised Geoffrey Canada get their last names? In telling these stories, Gates provides clues to readers of how they can conduct their own searches and the value to be found in immigration records and the 1870 census, the first census to list African Americans as people with first and last names. Gates reveals the challenges of last names changed by census takers and other bureaucrats or individuals renaming themselves after emancipation or immigration to the U.S., with original family names often lost in the process. Among the others Gates profiles are CNN medical correspondent Sanjay Gupta, comedian Margaret Cho, former secretary of state Condoleezza Rice, and actor Samuel L. Jackson.--Bush, Vanessa Copyright 2014 Booklist

Library Journal Review

Gates provides practical information for beginning genealogists and recounts stories of celebrity ancestry, from John Lewis to Robert Downey Jr. (c) Copyright 2014. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

David AltshulerBranford Marsalis and Harry Connick Jr.John Lewis and Cory BookerBarbara Walters and Geoffrey CanadaKyra Sedgwick and Kevin BaconRick Warren and Angela Buchdahl and Yasir QadhiRobert Downey Jr and Maggie GyllenhaalSamuel L. Jackson and Condoleezza Rice and Ruth SimmonsMargaret Cho and Sanjay Gupta and Martha StewartWanda Sykes and John Legend and Margarett CooperMichelle Rodriguez and Linda Chavez and Adrian Grenier
Forewordp. ix
Chapter 1 Genetic Gumbop. 1
Chapter 2 The Long Arc of Freedomp. 21
Chapter 3 What's in a Name?p. 45
Chapter 4 Redemptionp. 73
Chapter 5 The Children of Abrahamp. 95
Chapter 6 From the Old World to the Newp. 143
Chapter 7 Shadowsp. 165
Chapter 8 Crossingsp. 205
Chapter 9 Neither Slave nor Freep. 239
Chapter 10 In the Footsteps of Conquistadorsp. 279
Acknowledgmentsp. 315
Indexp. 319