TLC’s WDYTYA Offers Up Another Great Season

TLC’s Who Do You Think You Are? is back with eight new one-hour episodes bringing more unexpected turns, and surprising discoveries of great historical significance. Read more to find out who you’ll see and some of the hidden family secrets revealed.

wdytya

7th Season of WDYTYA

Communists, secret agents, and abolitionists are just a few of the family secrets uncovered in this season of Who Do You Think You Are. The line-up of celebrities include:

Jessica Biel making a surprising discovery that changes what she thought knew about her heritage.

Julie Bowen, of Modern Family, uncovers the story of two relatives whose moral codes are from opposite ends of the spectrum.

Courteney Cox will trace her maternal line back seven centuries to the Medieval times to discover royalty in her lineage and an unbelievable tale of family drama.

Jennifer Grey uncovers new information about the grandfather she thought she knew, learning how he survived adversity to become a beacon of his community.

Smokey Robinson searches for answers behind the mystery of why his grandfather disappeared from his children’s lives, and finds a man tangled in a swirl of controversy.

John Stamos digs into the mystery of how his grandfather became an orphan, and learns of tensions between families that led to a horrible crime.

Liv Tyler learns that her family is tied into the complicated racial narrative of America.

Noah Wyle unravels the mystery of his maternal line, uncovering an ancestor who survived one of America’s bloodiest battles.

Tune in on Sunday, March 5th, 2017 10/9c and be a part of their journeys. Also, you can enjoy this sneak peak in the video below:

Sharing Your Own WDYTYA Experience

Have you recently found an amazing discovery that has altered how you feel about your family’s history? We would love to hear about your experiences on our blog, here in the comments section, or on our Facebook page. After all, everyone has a story to tell.

And speaking of telling your story, Sunny Morton’s new book can help you do just that. It includes:

  • fill-in pages with thought-provoking prompts to capture key moments that define your life
  • Advice and exercises to reconstruct memories from long ago
  • Interactive pages for family and friends to share their own stories
  • Special forms for spotlighting important people, places and times.

Get Story of My Life by Sunny Jane Morton.

Disclosure: This article contains affiliate links and Genealogy Gems will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on these links (at no additional cost to you). Thank you for supporting Genealogy Gems!

How Facebook Users Reunited a Bible with its Family: Facebook for Family History

family-bible-cover-2These genealogy sleuths used Facebook for family history when they responded to a plea to help return a family Bible to its family.

Back on March 21, Donna Whitten posted a video on her church Facebook page. Her post says, “How far would you go to get back something you’ve lost?”

She was talking about a 150 year-old family Bible she’d come across while antiquing one day in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Her post says, “We want to find this family and return it to them! Can you help?” (Click here to see that post and video.)

family-bible-marriagesThat video post got 34,000 views, thanks in part to more than 600 people who shared it! Family history fans immediately stepped up to the challenge. They looked for names on Ancestry.com and reached out to tree owners. Within two days, several descendants were aware of the Bible and asking for copies. The bible eventually went to a woman in California named Carrie Robinson, who has been researching her tree for several years. It contained obituaries clipped from newspapers and handwritten vital family events. (Wouldn’t you love to receive that kind of family treasure?) Click here to watch the follow-up video about when Donna took the bible to the new owner.

Hats off to Donna and her team of sleuths who took the time to find Carrie’s family and return their past to them! I find a few take-home messages in this story:

  • Social media is a great way to cast your net wide, not just when you’re sharing family history, but when you’re looking for information. Click here to read more about gathering memories through Facebook.
  • You can watch for orphaned heirlooms in your path and return them to descendants. Click here to read tips on how to do that.
  • The video Donna created got attention on Facebook! Video is powerful. Use it to share your family history. (Full disclosure: This post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links. I appreciate you using these links because that compensation helps make the Genealogy Gems blog possible. Thank you!)  Click here to read about Animoto, a DIY-video making service I love that lets you produce your own professional-quality videos. Below is one quick video I created. Can you say shareable?!

Victorian Fruit Cake Recipe: Tasty and Tasteful

This recipe for a Victorian fruit cake skips the poor-quality candied fruit that gives some pre-made modern fruitcakes a bad reputation (especially in the US). Instead, fresh coconut, citron and almonds fill this cake to bursting with natural flavors and textures. 

Victorian Fruit cake recipe

Image courtesy of Sarah Chrisman.

This holiday season, Genealogy Gems Book Club featured author Sarah Chrisman is helping us celebrate all things Victorian, especially recipes! Keep reading to find links to the Victorian holiday recipes we’ve shared recently.

In this post: a fruit cake that lives up to its history as a rich, flavorful dessert that’s worthy of the season.

Image courtesy of Sarah Chrisman.

Victorian Fruit Cake Recipe

Sarah Chrisman shared this recipe for a white fruit cake with us, along with this picture of her cracking a coconut in preparation for making this dish:

“Stir to a cream one pound of butter and one pound of powdered sugar.

Add the beaten yolks of twelve eggs, one pound of flour and two teaspoons of baking powder.

Grate one coconut, blanch and chop one-half pound of almonds, and slice one-half pound of citron and stir into the stiffly beaten white of the eggs and add to the batter.

Put in pan lined with buttered paper, and bake slowly two hours.”

-By Mrs. W.S. Standish, Plymouth Union Cook Book, 1894. pp. 56-57.

Here’s a quick video tutorial on how to blanch almonds:

What is Citron?

It’s a citrus fruit that is something like a lemon. According to this blog post on using citron in fruitcakes, it’s not always easy to find fresh citrons, but you can ask at your best local markets for a supplier near you or look for high-quality prepared citron that can be shipped to you.

More Victorian holiday recipes

Homemade cranberry sauce and hearty vegetable hash

Victorian pumpkin pie: light and delectable

Coasting cookies (shown here)victorian-coasting-cookies

Traditional (and tasty) fig pudding

Genealogy Gems Book Club featured author Sarah Chrisman will join host Lisa Louise Cooke in the December Genealogy Gems and Genealogy Gems Premium podcasts to talk about her everyday Victorian lifestyle.

this-victorian-life

Check out her memoir, This Victorian Life: Modern Adventures in Nineteenth-Century Culture, Cooking, Fashion and Technologies or several other books she’s written about the era (both fiction and nonfiction).

Victorian Thanksgiving Recipes: Homemade Cranberry Sauce and Hearty Vegetable Hash

Victorian lifestyle expert and author Sarah Chrisman shares favorite–and authentic–recipes for tangy homemade cranberry sauce (served hot or cold) and a hearty vegetable hash.

victorian-cranberry-sauce-recipe

Sarah Chrisman, who lives every day like it’s Victorian times and writes about it in several books, is the current featured author for the Genealogy Gems Book Club. She’ll join both the Genealogy Gems podcast and the Genealogy Gems Premium Podcast in December to talk about Victorian-style holidays and her books, including This Victorian Life.

In the coming weeks, Sarah will share her favorite mouth-watering, made-from-scratch Victorian recipes here on the Genealogy Gems blog. Some of her recipes come straight from cookbooks of the time period, and others she has adapted for modern kitchens and tastes.

Below, she shares a simple recipe for tangy cranberry sauce, simmered from whole, fresh cranberries, and a hot, hearty vegetable hash side dish, which Sarah calls “a good way to use up leftovers after the holiday!”

Cranberry Sauce

cranberry-sauce-sarah-chrisman

“Pick over and wash two cupfuls of fine cranberries.  Put them in an earthen dish, pour over a cup of sugar, add a cupful of boiling water, cover, and cook gently nearly an hour.  Serve hot or cold.”
-From Catering for Two,  by Alice L. James. G.P. Putnam’s Sons: New York and London. (n.d.) p. 178.

Note: the above edition of Catering for Two isn’t dated, but a first edition found online is dated 1898.

Vegetable Hash

Image courtesy of Sarah Chrisman.

Image courtesy of Sarah Chrisman.

  • Chop rather coarsely the remains of vegetables left from a boiled dinner, such as cabbage, parsnips, potatoes, etc.
  • Sprinkle over them a little pepper.
  • Place in a saucepan or frying-pan over the fire.
  • Put in a piece of butter the size of a hickory nut.
  • When it begins to melt, tip the dish so as to oil the bottom, and around the sides.
  • Then put in the chopped vegetables.
  • Pour in a spoonful or two of hot water from the tea-kettle.
  • Cover quickly so as to keep in the steam. 
  • When heated thoroughly take off the cover and stir occasionally until well cooked.
  • Serve hot. 

“Persons fond of vegetables will relish this dish very much.”

The Capitol Cook Book, 1896, p. 188

More Recipes for a Very Victorian Holiday Season

Click here to see last week’s Victorian-era recipe for a rich roasted turkey with chestnut stuffing and gravy. (We even included a quick how-to video tutorial for trussing the turkey!)

Victorian Thanksgiving Turkey Recipe

Follow us in the coming weeks on the Genealogy Gems Facebook page, Pinterest or Instagram for more Victorian recipes!

Genealogy Gems Book Club featured author, Sarah Chrisman (This Victorian Life: Modern Adventures in 19th-Century Culture, Cooking, Fashion and Technologies) will be serving up a series of favorites in celebration of her coming Book Club interviews on the free Genealogy Gems Podcast and Genealogy Gems Premium Podcast in December.

 

View-Master Toys are Going Virtual Reality

" The View-Master first appeared in 1939 at the New York Worlds Fair. My View-Master Model C, pictured here, was produced between 1946 and 1955. It was made from bakelite and was the first viewer to have a slot into which the reels were placed for viewing. Believe it or not, all reels made for any view master will work in any model from 1939 to present." Image by Jack Pearce, Flickr Creative Commons. Image used without changes; find it at https://www.flickr.com/photos/jwpearce/10725366513/.

” The View-Master first appeared in 1939 at the New York Worlds Fair. My View-Master Model C, pictured here, was produced between 1946 and 1955. It was made from bakelite and was the first viewer to have a slot into which the reels were placed for viewing. Believe it or not, all reels made for any view master will work in any model from 1939 to present.” Image by Jack Pearce, Flickr Creative Commons. Image used without changes; find it at https://www.flickr.com/photos/jwpearce/10725366513/.

Did you have a View-Master toy as a kid? Using these stereoscopic viewers (long before kids had cameras of their own), children could see pictures of any topic from Disney to dinosaurs to the 1958 World’s Fair in Brussels. According to a collector, whose image is posted here, “all reels made for any View-Master will work in any model from 1939 to the present.”

Well, this decades-only technology is about to get boosted into the 21st century. According to this news report, “Mattel is teaming up with Google on an upcoming virtual reality-based View-Master that is infused with Google Cardboard VR technology.”

“The Cardboard-based View-Master…will share some design elements with vintage View-Masters, but instead of dropping in a reel, you slide an Android smartphone into the unit. View-Master will work with a custom Mattel app, as well as any Google Cardboard-compatible app, of which there are now about 200 in the Google Play Store.”

Want to learn more about these great vintage toys–or share one with the next generation? Click here to purchase a View-Master Viewer and Reels and click here to purchase Collectible View-Master: An Illustrated Reference and Value Guide. (Thank you! Purchasing from these links helps support the Genealogy Gems podcast and blog.)

Did you know that nostalgia buffs (and anyone else) can search Google Patents for fun objects like the View-Master? Click here to see the original patent application materials for the 1939 View-Master, including a design drawing of that first model. Here’s a tip: if your ancestor ever applied for a patent, search Google Patents for his or her name! Learn more about Google Patents–and other fabulous and FREE Google tools you can use for family history–in the new, fully-revised 2nd edition of The Genealogist’s Google Toolbox by Lisa Louise Cooke.

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