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WKU professor to appear on NBC show ‘Who Do You Think You Are?’

John Hardin, a history professor at WKU, will appear in the NBC show “Who Do You Think You Are?” Friday (March 9).

Jerome Bettis researched his family history on NBC's "Who Do You Think You Are?" WKU history professor John Hardin, who will appear on the March 9 episode, met Bettis in Calloway County where Bettis' great-great-grandfather was born. (NBC photo by Chris Berkey)

Dr. Hardin, a co-editor of the Kentucky African American Encyclopedia Project, appears with Jerome Bettis as the NFL star discovers how his great-great-grandfather survived slavery in rural Calloway County in the 1850s.

“His story was not unlike others who lived through this period of American history and later migrated to other states,” Dr. Hardin said. “His family later wound up in Michigan where Jerome was born.”

Dr. Hardin met Bettis at the Calloway County courthouse in Murray where they viewed original dower records of slave “property” inherited by widows. They then traveled to the Calloway County farm where Bettis’ great-great-grandfather was born.

“Throughout this episode, Bettis wanted his family to be aware of how his ancestors were able to overcome the perils of slavery and eventually enabled later generations to become successful contributors to American society,” Dr. Hardin said.

He described Bettis as down-to-earth and professional.

“As an NFL color commentator, he developed excellent communication skills after retiring from competition as a standout Super Bowl player for the Pittsburgh Steelers,” Dr. Hardin said. “He is a successful entrepreneur in Pittsburgh and I can see why.”

Dr. Hardin said the experience is “an opportunity that I will use in my history classes on the African American experience during slavery.  It suggested that each of us can ask the question—do we really know who we are? If not, historical researchers and tools such as ancestry.com can provide the keys to obtain the answers.”

In its third season, “Who Do You Think You Are?” airs 7 p.m.-8 p.m. (CT) Fridays on NBC. From executive producers Lisa Kudrow (“Friends,” “Web Therapy”) and Dan Bucatinsky (“Lipstick Jungle,” “The Comeback”), through their production company Is or Isn’t Entertainment and Shed Media U.S. (“Supernanny,” “The Real Housewives of New York City”), “Who Do You Think You Are?” is an adaptation of the award-winning hit British television documentary series that leads celebrities on a journey of self-discovery as they unearth their family trees that reveal surprising, inspiring and even tragic stories that often are linked to crucial events in American history.

Contact: John Hardin, (270) 745-2233.

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