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COLLECTION Identifier: MS Thr 1949

Finding Your Roots with Henry Louis Gates, Jr. : records


Scripts and copies of "Book of Life" albums for the PBS television show, Finding Your Roots with Henry Louis Gates, Jr.


  • 2012-2019


Language of Materials


Conditions Governing Access

Restricted: limited access; consult curatorial staff (series: scripts).
This collection is shelved offsite at the Harvard Depository. Retrieval requires advance notice. Readers should check with Houghton Public Services staff to determine what material is offsite and retrieval policies and times.


20.5 linear feet (20 boxes))
Series I includes reproductions of the "Book of Life" album given to each guest, which outlines their family history and documents used to illustrate it. Series II contains production scripts written by the Finding Your Roots team, annotated by Gates and guests for individual guest segments following each session. The guest annotations are notes regarding their reactions to their family history and their experience on the show learning about said history.

Biographical / Historical

Finding Your Roots is a Public Broadcasting Service television show written by a collaborative group and hosted by Henry Louis Gates, Jr. The show, through genealogical research and DNA analysis, traces the ancestry of selected influential people. Each season is comprised of 10 episodes, each episode featuring several public figures. Each individual is given a "Book of Life" scrapbook that contains photographs and copies of documents relating to their family tree. The scripts are annotated by the guests on each episode; they are asked to share their reactions to and feelings about learning about their family history.
Henry Louis Gates, Jr., is the Alphonse Fletcher University Professor and Director of the Hutchins Center for African and African American Research at Harvard University. He is an American literary critic, teacher, historian, filmmaker and public intellectual.


Collection material is arranged in order as received. The finding aid is arranged in two series: Book of Life albums; and Scripts. Within each series, names of guests are arranged alphabetically. The 2020 accrual has been interspersed into the alphabetical arrangement of each series.

Physical Location

Harvard Depository

Immediate Source of Acquisition

2019MT-141 and 2020MT-94. Gift of Henry Louis Gates, Jr.; transferred from the Hutchins Center for African & African American Research, 2019 May and 2020 January.

Processing Information

Processed by Melanie Wisner, 2019 May. Accrual processed by Betts Coup, 2020 January.
Finding Your Roots with Henry Louis Gates, Jr. : records, 2012-2019 (MS Thr 1949): Guide
Houghton Library, Harvard University
2019 May 31
Description rules
Language of description
Finding aid written in English.

Repository Details

Part of the Houghton Library Repository

Houghton Library is Harvard College's principal repository for rare books and manuscripts, literary and performing arts archives, and more. The library's holdings of primary source material are managed by an expert staff and shared with scholars, students and the public in the reading room.

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