“Who Do You Think You Are?” – Rashida Jones Episode Review

I’m also glad that in terms of the Second World War, the show only discussed the events of the Holocaust and as they related to this specific family, rather than trying to paint a bigger picture of the Second World War. The Second World War in Latvia is an extremely complex matter that could not be accurately discussed in such a short time slot, so it is a good thing that they decided to leave it aside and only looked at Rashida’s family. I will try to write some posts about the Second World War in Latvia in the future, but it is a difficult time period to fairly describe such that it makes sense for the Western reader, because unlike the “good guys” and “bad guys” fighting in Western Europe at the time, Eastern Europe had “bad guys” and “worse guys”, which label belonging to which power (the Nazis or the Soviets) depending on the particulars of each family’s ethnic, religious, political and class backgrounds. But I will try.

Did you watch the Rashida Jones episode of Who Do You Think You Are? What did you think? Curious about the documents they looked at? Leave your questions in comments below!

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8 comments on this post.
  1. Pauline:

    I’m looking forward to seeing this when it is aired in the UK. Good review Antra, sounds as if they could have done with your knowledge to guide them with accuracy.

  2. Sebastiane:

    I don’t know why, but I have always been fascinated by Latvian culture since I was a child. I am American and of full Polish-ancestry. I may have Latvian ancestry, but I highly doubt it. That said, this one particular episode really piqued my interest. I am glad that they didn’t go too deep into the WWII in Latvia as it IS complicated, as you have pointed out.

    I just wanted to comment on your pronunciation of Latvia. I come from Chicago, and though Latvian community isn’t as large as say, Polish, Irish or German, we have quite a few of them and many have left their presence in the city. Every Latvian-American I have known (all were from Chicago) pronounced it (LAT-vee-ah). The one time I did hear someone say LOT-vee-ah was in Seinfeld in which one of the characters was dating a Latvian woman. I found the pronunciation odd, but I attributed it to a New York accent. I believe Rashida Jones is also from New York and perhaps the narrator of the show as well. I believe it is just a New York accent.

  3. MoiNiki:

    Thank you for this – I now know to look out for it when it is on in the UK. Have only just discovered your blog but it has been so helpful. And the info on the various archives is what I am just trying to get my head around. I really am finding research such a struggle – goodness knows how you are meant to read the handwriting on the scanned censuses and locate relatives – even when you know roughly where they were. It’s a mammoth task but fun, nonetheless. Maybe I will get a chance to drop in to the archives myself this summer. Thanks for sharing your experience – it is such a help.

  4. Chelli:

    Very happy to see some mainstream TV footage of the town of Aizpute, so close to where my ancestors are from :)

  5. Brenda:

    I’m sorry I missed that episode of WDYTYA (oh well, surely there will be repeats).. but I shared your post on Google+. I sort of drifted away from watching the program because they always make the research results appear by magic, and the Ancestry commercials get so tedious. The LOTvia pronunciation is strange, eh? It’s too bad they don’t pay attention to important detail like which repository they are in!!

  6. Alice:

    Love the blog entries on Latvia “LAt-v-a” (long A with a short “a” at the end), you should think of adding the google +1 tag to your entries, they can easily be shared on google+, thanks for sharing your thoughts. My grandfather was from Russia, Lativa before WWI and it has been a journey discovering his roots.

  7. Brian:

    I think the last couple of sentences of this blog entry are a great and brief summation of the complexities of WWII in Latvia. As I’m sure you are aware, there are people on all sides that sometimes get particularly emotional to the extent it blinds them of the gray areas that are often present in war.

  8. Family History Through the Alphabet – A is for Archives « Discovering Latvian Roots:

    [...] avoid having to go to the LSHA during the Rashida Jones episode (for my review of this episode, go here). Ancestry.com does not have any substantial Latvian records (the only ones they do have are [...]

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