This week's episode of Who Do You Think You Are? featured Matthew Broderick tracing the lives of his grandfather and great-great grandfather.
First, I was quite excited when his sister pulled out the trunk. I must admit, the site of a trunk overflowing with pictures and documents makes me a little giddy (probably nerdy as well.) However, again this re-inforces the fact that all research begins at home.
I loved that Matthew was worried his research might find something embarrassing and it was great that he recognized, that what little he knew of his family had not been recorded and was slipping away.
Certainly, the story of his grandfather in WWI in France, his job as medic on the front line, the wounds he suffered and his medals for gallantry had me tearing up already. I don’t think I’ve gotten through a story yet without shedding a tear. I am always moved, by how much the celebrities are affected upon learning their history. For Matthew’s grandfather to be a war hero and no one knew it was quite surprising.
The second half of the story was incredible. Following his great grandfather through the civil war, Gettysburg and to his unmarked grave was in Matthew’s words “gobsmacked.” (I looked it up – shocking). Matthew was able to solve a mystery and now an unmarked grave can have a proper headstone.
Like all the other celebrities and like most of us, our history, our ancestors lives are out there for us to discover however in this story Matthew’s journey changed history. His discovery allowed an unmarked grave to be identified and a mystery to be solved. I thought this was an incredible story and certainly one any family historian would love to have in their history book.
In this episode, we saw a variety of resources including ancestry.com, the national archives, state archives, census records, civil war records, coroner’s records. This story did a great job at linking the information learned from the documents and revealing the next step in the process.
A couple of things impressed me. Oh, my gosh, those census books, the civil war records, going into the vault, how amazing to be sitting in front of those records, something internet genealogy cannot re-enact and dare I say far more romantic then seeing a digital version on a computer screen.
And did you notice Matthew was carrying his camera. The sign of truly interested and invested family historian.
Therefore, four weeks in, Who Do You Think You Are? continues to surprise and entertain me, motivate me and yes, I am gobsmacked.