April 14th, 2011 by Louise Sherby
“Who Do You Think You Are?” is a reality show in its second season on NBC. It shows celebrities tracing their unknown ancestors and in the telling of their stories, we learn about the history of their journeys to America and the countries and areas they had lived in. The show is an adaptation of the version first seen in England and produced by Wall to Wall Media. Lisa Kudrow was filming in Ireland and happened to see the British version of the show there. She was so excited about it that she wanted to bring it to the United States and is one of the Executive Producers.
So how does this relate to Hunter College? In January, the Hunter College Archives & Special Collections Department was contacted by a researcher for Wall to Wall Media asking if we had the 1897 Annual Report of the Normal College (Hunter’s original name). They wanted to verify if a name appeared there. They wouldn’t tell us who they were looking for nor which celebrity’s journey they were researching. We allowed them to film the pages they needed from the Annual Report and then had to wait to see who it was they were looking for and which celebrity was on that journey..
Turns out it was Gwyneth Paltrow’s great-grandmother who was a Hunter graduate! If you haven’t been watching the series, full episodes for season two are available on the NBC.Com web site here. So enjoy a bit of history as you learn about Gwyneth’s ancestry and how a Hunter College alumnae was part of that story.