PEOPLE has the exclusive look at Ringwald's episode of Who Do You Think You Are?, where she travels through various Nebraska towns to discover her roots in the TLC show.
In an exclusive clip, the 48-year-old gets very emotional reading an 1857 housing record, which shows her ancestor Kjersti and her children being moved out of the miner housing and into housing for widows of mine workers.
Upon further reading, she finds out that Kjersti's husband Carl Grip died in the coal mines, leaving Kjersti a widowed mother and without money. Ringwald learns that there was no such thing as "insurance" for widows back then, even if they had children to feed. This leads to the widowed mothers having to beg for handouts from strangers in order to survive.
Towards the end of the clip, Ringwald becomes upset when she learns that one widow had passed away after being buried in the snow. They had become trapped after having to go out and look for food in order to feed their children.
"It sounds to me that the mining company didn't take care of the widows very well. They seemed a little forgotten," says Ringwald.
Who Do You Think You Are? airs Sunday (9 p.m. ET/PT) on TLC.