I so enjoyed the second season of NBC’s “Who Do You Think You Are?” From Gwyneth Paltrow and Lionel Richie to Tug McGraw and Rosie O’Donnell, I watched historians and genealogists assist them in tracing their lines to a variety of ancestors.
More than one person has asked me, “Why don’t they trace the genealogy of someone like us instead of these celebrities who could afford to hire someone to do it for them?”
It’s a good question. I’m sure the answer is that the network was looking for a lot more viewers than the genealogists out there. They wanted to appeal to a broader viewership, and they did, if those who tell me they watched the show are any example.
As they learned about their forebears, Paltrow talked about her deep love of her father, and Richie about the pride in the businessman who ran a fraternal order that benefited African-Americans in a concrete way.
And Rosie O’Donnell, who often has shared the impact of losing her mother when she was a child, gained a new perspective after visiting the Irish town of one of her ancestral families, who were so poor they never would have been able to come to this country if not for the kindness of two people who paid for the trip.
I’m remembering, too, last season when Matthew Broderick found he had a Union ancestor killed in the Civil War, buried in the South in an unmarked grave. It was a touching story no matter who that soldier’s descendants are — but how poignant that one of them should have played Col. Robert Gould Shaw in the movie “Glory.”
According to NBC, episodes for the second season are available online into September at nbc.com/who-do-you-think-you-are.
The University of Maine Page Farm and Home Museum will host its 10th History Fun Day 10 a.m.-noon Wednesday, April 20, at the farm museum in Orono to celebrate and learn about Maine’s rich agricultural heritage.
Activities include folk art, leisure time, spinning and weaving, gardening and home crafts. An historical snack is included in the activities, which are suitable for kindergarten through grade six. A $4 fee per child pays for materials. As space is limited, pre-register by calling the farm and home museum at 581-4100.
Teachers, researchers, historians and genealogists have a new online bibliographical website to link them to references and resources about things Franco-American.
Created through and housed at the University of Maine Franco-American Centre, the new Franco American Library, http://francolib.francoamerican.org, contains lists and links to journal articles, published papers, dissertations, biographies, fiction, periodicals, artwork and audio and video materials about Franco-American life, culture and history.
A catalog of resources for Franco-American studies that’s linked to URSUS and to the Maine State Library, it categorizes a virtual collection of items by genre and theme, assigns each item geographic tags, and indicates the library or public collection where each item might be found.
“Up until now, there has been no way to find things written about Franco-Americans,” said Susan Pinette, director of Franco-American Studies at UMaine, whose idea the portal was. “This resource has been sorely needed by everyone — both academic and community-based researchers.”
The Library of Congress recently came up with a subject heading a few years ago, Pinette said, but even so, “if you type ‘Franco American’ into most library catalogs, you get books written about French-U.S. diplomacy. There is no way to find Franco-American authors. Even with the Library of Congress designator, it is tough to find Franco-American fiction.”
Pinette has worked for the past year with independent researcher Jacob Albert of Augusta to create the online bibliography, with financial assistance from the Quebec-based Centre de la Francophonie des Amériques. The center is dedicated to developing a promising future for the Francophone French language in the context of cultural diversity by enhancing relationships among Francophones and Francophiles of Quebec, Canada and the Americas, according to its mission statement.
Albert described the resource as populated by materials relative to Franco-American interests in Maine, New England and the Canadian Maritimes, but said it will grow nationally through public use and submissions from users.
“Once this becomes more public, we hope folks will get excited about it and help us add to it,” he said. Its production also was made possible by the support of Chez Nous, a chapter of Royal Arcanum-ACA, formerly known as Association Canado-Américaine.
Speaking of Franco-American — and Mayflower, Penobscot and Passamaquoddy — our new granddaughter is Emilee Anne Saucier, 6 pounds 13 ounces, born on April 8 in Waterville. She is the daughter of Scott and Amanda (Wilcox) Saucier, and the little sister of Lexis and Andrew Perry, and of Dylan Saucier.
My son tells me that her name, Emilee Anne, honors her grandmother, Vicki Lee Wilcox; her memere, Roxanne; and her great-grandmother, the late Rose Anna (Chamberland) Saucier. I told my son that was “lovely,” but sometimes words fail you.
As I write this, I haven’t received the details, but the Penobscot County Genealogical Society has scheduled Nancy Dymond to give a program on the black community in the area at 6 p.m. Wednesday, April 20, in the Lecture Hall at Bangor Public Library, 145 Harlow St. All are welcome.
Send genealogy queries to Family Ties, Bangor Daily News, PO Box 1329, Bangor, ME 04402; or email firstname.lastname@example.org.