There are all sorts of TV shows out there today, but there are more and more shows popping up that are rich in historical background and reference and are a must-see for history buffs.
As those who knew me from my younger years can attest, I was never a history buff. In fact, I barely got through history and social studies classes. But now that I am involved in genealogy, the historical context is becoming very important to my research and I find myself quite intrigued with history.
And since I am a continuous learner, I find the following TV shows to be intriguing and of importance to learn more about history (people, places, things), further my knowledge, and find ways to apply it to my genealogy.
American Pickers – This show is about two guys, Mike and Frank, who are “pickers” and travel the country in search of “rusty gold.” They find all sorts of neat items, and many times they share bits of information about an item and/or the manufacturer, including the history. I think the odd, antique items are the most interesting. It’s amazing what they find!
Pawn Stars – A family-owned and operated pawn shop in Las Vegas is chronicled in this show. Like American Pickers, there are all sorts of neat items that find their way to the pawn shop. Often times, experts (such as a museum curator, arms and armor expert, auction dealer, or handwriting expert) are called in to examine an item for background information and authenticity. And again, like American Pickers, it can be a great learning experience for historical finds.
Top Shot – Although this reality show is looking for the best marksman, it still provides historical value. In the first season (Season 2 starts soon), the marksmen were challenged with a variety of weapons, including flint-lock pistols and a bow and arrow. When the marksmen are learning about how to use the weapon, the trained expert also puts it in historical context, including when it was used and who typically used it and for what purpose. For those of us with military ancestors, it’s a way to see the weapons our ancestors may have used during wartime. Plus, the explosion images taken with a high-speed camera are pretty cool!
Decoded – This new show, hosted by Brad Meltzer, explores a wide range of historical occurrences, providing all sorts of historical information and possible alternatives to the known truths. So far, the show has explored the alleged death of John Wilkes Booth,the apparent missing cornerstone of the White House, among other things.
Ghost Hunters and Ghost Lab – No, I have not lost my mind, and yes, these are both shows that deal with alleged paranormal activity. But the neat thing about both shows is that many times they explore historical places, especially in the New England area and you can learn all sorts of things about the time, place, and people…and maybe even see a ghost or two ;)