UK Historian To Appear On NBC's "Who Do You Think You Are?"

Mar 9, 2012

LEXINGTON, Ky. - University of Kentucky history professor Dr. Gerald Smith will appear on NBC’s “Who Do You Think You Are?” tonight. The show will trace the genealogy of former Pittsburgh Steeler Jerome “The Bus” Bettis.

“Who Do You Think You Are?” digs deep into the family archives of celebrities to reveal their roots. It’s a process that often involves more than a few surprises for the celebrities and the historians.

"It's not very often we as historians get the opportunity to interact with the individuals we are researching," Dr. Smith says. 

Though Smith is reluctant to unveil any details about tonight’s show, he says he’s eager to see the program in its entirety. Smith says he’s confident the product will be compelling, both for Jerome Bettis and the audience.

"I was very impressed with the research and with the attention to detail. Very professional in terms of the way this program is put together," he says.

Smith is also the general co-editor of the Kentucky African-American Encyclopedia Project, the first state encyclopedia of its kind in the country. It’s meant to present a comprehensive view of individuals, events, places, organizations, movements, and institutions that have shaped African-American history and Kentucky history in general. But the project has hit a major hurdle.

"We're more than half way through with this volume now, but we are in dire straits in terms of needing additional funding," Dr. Smith says.

Without a source of revenue, the project is likely to collapse within the next four or five months. Smith says he hopes his appearance on “Who Do You Think You Are?” will generate more interest in the encyclopedia. “Who Do You Think You Are?” airs tonight at 8 EST on NBC.