Finding Your Roots

Finding Your Roots

This series journeys deep into the ancestry of a group of remarkable individuals and provides new understanding of personal identity and American history. Presented and written by Professor Henry Louis Gates Jr.

All Past Episodes

Off the Farm

56:46 | #602 | TV-PG

Henry Louis Gates, Jr. explores the humble roots of comedic actors Melissa McCarthy and Eric Stonestreet, retracing the ancestral journeys that laid the groundwork for their success.

Hollywood Royalty

56:46 | #601 | TV-PG

Henry Louis Gates, Jr. helps actors Isabella Rossellini, Anjelica Huston, and Mia Farrow unearth surprising new revelations about their family histories, taking them generations beyond their famous cinematic forebears.

All in the Family

56:46 | #510 | TV-PG

Radio host Joe Madison receives startling family news, and series host Henry Louis Gates, Jr. learns his own DNA story. Also features the "Finding Your Roots: The Seedlings" STEM Camp, with science and history inspiring the next generation.

The Eye of the Beholder

56:46 | #509 | TV-PG

Host Henry Louis Gates, Jr. shares the family histories of director Alejandro G. Inarritu, iconoclastic performance artist Marina Abramovic, and painter Kehinde Wiley. These visionary artists find their identities challenged - and affirmed.

Hard Times

56:46 | #508 | TV-PG

Henry Louis Gates, Jr. explores the family stories of filmmaker Michael Moore and actors Laura Linney and Chloe Sevigny - three people whose distant ancestors overcame great hardships in ways that resonate with their lives today.

No Laughing Matter

25:26 | #507 | TV-PG

Comedians Seth Meyers, Tig Notaro, and Sarah Silverman learn about the people whose struggles laid the groundwork for their success. Professor Gates reveals to each guest an unexpected DNA cousin.

Roots in Politics

56:46 | #506 | TV-PG

Politicians Paul Ryan, Tulsi Gabbard, and Marco Rubio explore their diverse family histories. They each see a shared vision of the great American melting pot reflected in their ancestors' stories.

Freedom Tales

56:46 | #505 | TV-PG

Actor S. Epatha Merkerson and athlete and television personality Michael Strahan discover stories that challenge assumptions about black history.

Dreaming of a New Land

56:46 | #504 | TV-PG

Henry Louis Gates, Jr. explores with Marisa Tomei, Sheryl Sandberg, and Kal Penn the tremendous challenges faced by their immigrant forebears. From Italy, Russia, and India to America, their histories show success could take generations to achieve.

Reporting on the Reporters

56:46 | #503 | TV-PG

Henry Louis Gates, Jr. shows journalists Christiane Amanpour, Ann Curry, and Lisa Ling that their family stories are just as compelling as the news stories they cover.

Mystery Men

56:46 | #502 | TV-PG

Henry Louis Gates, Jr. helps actors Felicity Huffman and Michael K. Williams discover a wealth of hidden family history. Both grew up knowing little about their biological fathers.

Grandparents and Other Strangers

56:46 | #501 | TV-PG

Host Henry Louis Gates, Jr. helps actor Andy Samberg and author George R. R. Martin answer some family mysteries when DNA detective work uncovers new branches of their family trees.

Funny Business

56:46 | #410 | TV-PG

Amy Schumer, Aziz Ansari, and Maya Rudolph take a serious look at their family trees, learning contrasting stories of assimilation, independence, hardship, and success all over the globe.

Southern Roots

56:46 | #409 | TV-PG

Questlove, Dr. Phil, and Charlayne Hunter-Gault discover tales of bondage in their family histories.

Relatives We Never Knew We Had

56:46 | #408 | TV-PG

Tea Leoni and Gaby Hoffmann both have lives shaped by family mysteries. They are introduced to the identities and life stories of their ancestors, thanks to DNA detective work.

Children of the Revolution

56:46 | #407 | TV-PG

Lupita Nyong'o, Carmelo Anthony, and Ana Navarro investigate the political choices of their fathers, discovering sometimes unexpected heritage as they trace their ancestry further back.

Black Like Me

56:46 | #406 | TV-PG

Bryant Gumbel, Tonya Lewis-Lee, and Suzanne Malveaux discover a tapestry of the unexpected in their ancestry, revealing slaves and free people of color, Civil War legacies, and forgotten European origins.

Immigrant Nation

56:46 | #405 | TV-PG

Actors Scarlett Johansson, Paul Rudd, and John Turturro, all with immigrant parents, gain greater understanding of the unique challenges their ancestors faced by way of prejudice and poverty at home and abroad.

The Vanguard

56:46 | #404 | TV-PG

Author Ta-Nehisi Coates, filmmaker Ava DuVernay, and author and activist Janet Mock see their basic assumptions about their families challenged, placing their ancestors - of all colors - into the greater context of black history.

Puritans and Pioneers

56:46 | #403 | TV-PG

Actors Ted Danson, Mary Steenburgen, and William H. Macy trace their nonconformist ancestors through American conflicts - the Civil War and the American Revolution, all the way back to the Puritan establishment.

Unfamiliar Kin

56:46 | #402 | TV-PG

Actors Fred Armisen and Christopher Walken and musician Carly Simon each learn about a grandparent whose real identity and background had been a mystery to them - redefining how they see themselves.

The Impression

56:46 | #401 | TV-PG

Comedian Larry David and politician Bernie Sanders discover they have more in common than they thought as they trace their roots from 1940s Brooklyn back to Jewish communities in Eastern Europe.

Maps of Stars

56:01 | #310 | TV-PG

Learn how Dustin Hoffman and Mia Farrow, who last shared the screen together in 1969, also share a history of tragic deaths in their families that played major roles in shaping future generations.

The Long Way Home

56:46 | #309 | TV-PG

Discover how actress Julianna Marguiles, author Azar Nafisi, and chef Lidia Bastianich are bound together by their ancestors' singular and deeply human desire to preserve their most cherished traditions.

The Pioneers

56:46 | #308 | TV-PG

Neil Patrick Harris, Gloria Steinem, and Sandra Cisneros learn about their pioneering ancestors.

Family Reunions

56:46 | #307 | TV-PG

DNA technology uncovers the family mysteries of hip hop legends Sean Combs and LL Cool J.

War Stories

56:46 | #306 | TV-PG

Patricia Arquette, Julianne Moore, and John McCain explore the military service of their families.


56:46 | #305 | TV-PG

Discover how the ancestors of business mogul Richard Branson and architects Maya Lin and Frank Gehry took audacious risks to create opportunities.

Tragedy + Time = Comedy

56:46 | #304 | TV-PG

Jimmy Kimmel, Norman Lear, and Bill Hader explore the tragedies and triumphs in their families.

In Search of Freedom

56:46 | #303 | TV-PG

Maya Rudolph, Shonda Rhimes, and Keenen Ivory Wayans learn how their ancestors struggled for freedom.

The Irish Factor

56:46 | #302 | TV-PG

Soledad O'Brien, Bill O'Reilly, and Bill Maher explore the influence of their Irish ancestry.

The Stories We Tell

56:46 | #301 | TV-PG

Donna Brazile, Ty Burrell, and Kara Walker learn how the legacy of slavery shaped their identities.

Decoding Our Past

56:46 | #210 | TV-PG

DNA analysis is used to delve deeper into the families of Deval Patrick, Jessica Alba, and others.

Ancient Roots

56:46 | #209 | TV-PG

The family histories of Tina Fey, David Sedaris, and George Stephanopoulos are traced.

The British Invasion

56:47 | #208 | TV-PG

Celebrities Sally Field, Deepak Chopra, and Sting discover facts about their British ancestors.

Our People, Our Traditions

56:46 | #207 | TV-PG

The ancestors of celebrated Americans Tony Kushner, Carole King, and Alan Dershowitz are explored.

We Come from People

56:46 | #206 | TV-PG

Hip-hop artist Nas, actress Angela Bassett, and presidential advisor Valerie Jarrett trace their roots.

The Melting Pot

56:46 | #205 | TV-PG

Celebrity chefs Tom Colicchio, Ming Tsai, and Aaron Sanchez discover interesting family members.

Roots of Freedom

56:46 | #204 | TV-PG

The ancestors of Ben Affleck, Khandi Alexander, and NAACP president Ben Jealous are revealed.

Our American Storytellers

56:46 | #203 | TV-PG

Ken Burns, Anderson Cooper, and Anna Deavere Smith learn about their own family histories.

Born Champions

56:46 | #202 | TV-PG

Three great athletes - Derek Jeter, Billie Jean King, and Rebecca Lobo - discover their ancestry.

In Search of Our Fathers

56:46 | #201 | TV-PG

Henry Louis Gates explores the paternal ancestry of Stephen King, Courtney Vance, and Gloria Reuben.

Michelle Rodriguez, Adrian Grenier and Linda Chavez

56:46 | #110 | TV-PG

Michelle Rodriguez, Adrian Grenier, and Linda Chavez all share Latin-American roots, yet each views identity differently. Crisscrossing Mexico, Spain, the Caribbean, and the Southwest, Dr. Gates reveals stories of ancestral Conquistadors, Indian rebels, and "Crypto-Jews."

John Legend, Wanda Sykes and Margarett Cooper

56:46 | #109 | TV-PG

Musician John Legend and comedian Wanda Sykes discover the extraordinary stories of the free black ancestors they never knew about, while Professor Gates himself and his 98-year-old friend Margarett Cooper delve into the mysteries shrouding the free people of color in their family trees.

Sanjay Gupta, Margaret Cho and Martha Stewart

56:46 | #108 | TV-PG

From India to Korea to Poland, catch a glimpse of three distinct yet oddly overlapping experiences of families leaving their homes and becoming American.

Samuel L. Jackson, Condoleezza Rice and Ruth Simmons

56:46 | #107 | TV-PG

Samuel L. Jackson, Condoleezza Rice, and Brown University President Ruth Simmons have each climbed to the pinnacle of their profession, yet each started life as a second class citizen in the Jim Crow south.

Maggie Gyllenhaal and Robert Downey, Jr.

56:46 | #106 | TV-PG

Actors Maggie Gyllenhaal and Robert Downey, Jr. are textbook examples of Americans with a rich tapestry of European immigrant stories making up their family trees.

Angela Buchdahl, Rick Warren and Yasir Qadhi

56:46 | #105 | TV-PG

Pastor Rick Warren, Rabbi Angela Buchdahl, and Sheik Yasir Qadhi are of three different faiths, all with complex family histories that profoundly shaped their religious beliefs.

Kevin Bacon and Kyra Sedgwick

56:46 | #104 | TV-PG

Kevin Bacon and Kyra Sedgwick are both famous actors who descend from prominent American families that have been in this country since its inception. But they share something else, both had ancestors who were early opponents of slavery.

Barbara Walters and Geoffrey Canada

56:46 | #103 | TV-PG

Unearth missing links in the family histories of media legend Barbara Walters and educational superstar Geoffrey Canada. Walters did not know her father's real last name. Canada did not know the name of his grandfather. Both of them had been unable to access their history until now.

Cory Booker and John Lewis

56:46 | #102 | TV-PG

John Lewis grew up in a sharecropping family in rural Georgia, while Cory Booker was raised in an affluent, all-white New Jersey suburb. Although both men have devoted their lives to the betterment of African-American people, neither of them knows much about their own ancestors. In this episode, we introduce Booker to his white great-grandfather, a man he never knew, and move Lewis to tears over the extraordinary ambitions and accomplishments of his slave ancestors.

Harry Connick Jr. and Branford Marsalis

56:46 | #101 | TV-PG

Their European immigrant ancestors blazed unconventional trails in America, from capturing British ships for the American Revolution to crossing racial barriers in slave-era Louisiana. Generations later, as children growing up in New Orleans, Harry Connick, Jr. and Branford Marsalis found a deep and abiding friendship through their common love of jazz and of the city itself. This program traces the turbulent and contradictory history of the city of New Orleans through the family stories of these two fascinating men.

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