Good Morning! We will wrap up the year with a Top 10 list. This List will feature my Top 10 in History Documentary Series. These documentaries were featured on my blog for 2021. The rule is simple, they have to have more than two episodes to be featured on this list. This list is my own opinion and not endorsed by educators or historians.
1. Face of Britain: Episode 1 Episode 2 Episode 3
Neil Oliver explores the genetic doomsday book geneticists in Britain are creating of Britain to determine where the genetic ancestry of the British comes from. Do the British people come from Celts, Vikings, Anglo Saxons, or the Normans? Oliver travels around Britain to talk to the participants of the study. At the end of each episode, they go over the results with the participants of the study. *Highly recommended for a history classroom and a science classroom.*
2. Medieval Lives - A Good Birth, Marriage, Death - Episode 1 Episode 2 Episode 3
Helen Castor uses the Paxton family story to explore how the medieval period dealt with birth, marriage, and death. She starts off the series with Margaret Paxton preparing to give birth. Castor discusses how religion was tied into birth, marriage, and death. She then traces Paxton’s marriage and finally concludes with death. It is a fascinating look at Medieval lives. *Highly recommend for middle school and high school classrooms as well as for independent study students or clips.*
3. Lost Kingdoms of South America
Dr. Jago Cooper explores the ancient kingdoms of South America, going beyond the Inca people. He explores Bolivia and Peru to discover these lost kingdoms. The People of the Clouds are a mystery. One civilization left behind a spectacular temple and lasted for 500 years. A third civilization gave birth to the legend of El Dorado the city of gold. The fourth kingdom managed to eek a living out of the desert. Go beyond the Inca people and pick a documentary from this series to share with a history class. *Highly recommend for middle school and high school classrooms as well as for independent study students or clips.*
4. Rome without Limits with Mary Beard - Episode 1 Episode 2 Episode 3 Episode 4
Mary Beard explores the history of the Roman Empire beginning with the origin myths, the period of the republic, and the Empire. She explores the Roman Empire beyond Rome and travels to a variety of places that were a part of the Empire. She concludes the series with the question why did Rome fall? It is a fascinating dive into the Roman Empire. This documentary is a needed update to what available documentaries. *Highly recommended for a middle school and high school classroom. If you do not have space for all the documentaries, then show clips.*
5. Lost Kingdoms of Central America
Dr. Jago Cooper is back, this time exploring the Lost Kingdoms of Central America. He explores the people who built the first pyramids. Second, he explores the people who greeted Columbus. Then he looks at a mysterious civilization that people did not realize existed until they found evidence in the landscape. Finally, he explores the Teotihuacan people. This is another excellent series that would take students beyond the Mayans and Aztecs. *Highly recommend for middle school and high school classrooms as well as for independent study students or clips.*
6. Immortal Egypt: Episode 1 Episode 2 Episode 3 Episode 4
Joann Fletcher explores the history of Ancient Egypt over four episodes. She explores the height of Egypt's power, what caused Egypt to decline. She takes us to Egypts beginnings and weaves a tale of glory followed by despair. She shows off grand monuments and the smallest finds. This is an excellent documentary series to show while students are studying Ancient Egypt. *Recommend this documentary for middle school and high school classrooms.*
7. The Germans
This is a German-produced documentary series exploring the history of Germany. It was presented over two seasons, however, there are less than a dozen found on YouTube. The series kicks off with Charlemange and moves forward through German history. It covers the empires that made up Germany, German unification, the Holy Roman Empire, and the people who made up the German Nation. *Highly recommended for a middle school and high school history classroom. Highly recommended for independent study students.*
8. World of Stonehenge - Episode 1 Episode 2 Episode 3 Episode 4
Neil Oliver explores Ancient British History in this series. He starts with the impact of the Ice Age, how tools shaped the culture of early Britons, and conclude with the impact of bronze on society. He discusses how Britain was attached to Europe and how rising water levels turned it into an island. Britain has many ancient sites hidden in its landscape and Neil explains what they know about the sites well. *Recommend for a middle school and high school classroom.*
9. The Women Who Made History
This is another German-produced documentary series about the women who made history. There are episodes on Elizabeth I, Queen Louise, Joan of Arc, Cleopatra, Catherine the Great, and Sophie Scholl. This series explores the stories of these women and why they made history. This series covers different eras so a teacher should find something that will fit with their teaching needs. This Series also has English subtitles. *Highly Recommended for high school history classrooms for either a lecture or projects. Highly for independent study students.*
10. She-Wolves: England's Early Queens - Helen Castor - Episode 1 Episode 2 Episode 3
Helen Castor tells the stories of England's Early Queens. The first episode covers two women: Matilda and Eleanor. Matilda was supposed to be England's first Queen. Then she covers Isabella of France and Margaret of Anjou. Both of these women went to war to keep their families on the English Throne. Then she concludes the series with Jane Grey, Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth I. *Recommend for using clips in a history classroom and for independent study students.*
This week, I will be taking a week from blogging and reviewing! Have a safe holiday and vacation. I will be back next week with my top documentaries for 2021!
Good Morning, today I will present the Top 10 Historical Based Reality TV Series as part of the year-end wind-down. These lists are my own opinion and are not endorsed by any historian or educator. They are purely for fun. Next week, I will be taking off the week for the blog!
1) *Wartime Farm: YouTube
Ruth Goodman, Peter Ginn, and Alex Langladas as well as new team members Henry live as farmers facing the conditions of World War II. Goodman, Ginn, and Langladas startup with setting up the farm for war conditions, planting the fields, and trying their hand at recycling. They deal with rationing. They also take in war refugees, participate in home defense and welcome the Americans. *Highly recommended for both middle school and high school history and agricultural classrooms. Highly recommend it for independent study students and clips.*
2) Secrets of the Castle - Episode 1 Episode 2 Episode 3 Episode 4
Tom Pinfold, Ruth Goodman, and Peter Ginn explore medieval lives and how to build a castle. This series shows off one of the longest historical experiments in history. Pinfold, Goodman, and Ginn explore a variety of aspects of castle building. They kick off the series by establishing their base and then move on to doing building projects. This is a STEM and STEAM-heavy series. *Highly recommend for a middle school and high school history and science classroom.*
3) *Full Steam Ahead: YouTube
Peter Ginn, Alex Langlands, and Ruth Goodman explore the history of British Railways in this series. They start with how the railroads impact mining and local areas before going into how the railways impact Britain as a nation. The railroad had as big an impact as the internet had. Ginn, Langlands, and Goodman demonstrate the changes the railroad brought over the decades. *Highly recommend for a middle school and high school history classroom.*
4) *Edwardian Farm: YouTube Amazon Prime
Ruth Goodman, Peter Ginn, and Alex Langladas live as farmers during the Edwardian Period. Goodman, Ginn, and Langladas plant market gardens, raise livestock, and keep house using Edwardian methods. They participate in daily Edwardian life and show how the Edwardian period brought changes to England. *Recommend for a history classroom, highly recommend for an agricultural classroom. Excellent series for an independent study student.*
5) *Victorian Farm: YouTube Amazon Prime
Ruth Goodman, Peter Ginn, and Alex Langladas live as farmers during the Victorian Age. They work on the Acton-Scott estate for this series. The first restore a Victorian farm worker's cottage, prepare cider, and plant their fields. They participate in daily Victorian life. They celebrate the holidays Victorian Style. Recommend for both history and agricultural classrooms. Highly recommend it for independent study students and clips in a lecture.*
6) *Tudor Monastery Farm: YouTube Amazon (Region 2 DVD)
Ruth Goodman, Tom Pinford, and Peter Ginn live life as farmers during the Tudor period for a full calendar year. Monasteries were an important part of Tudor Life and they were the landlords during this period. They plant a field, raise livestock, and keep house using Tudor methods. Ruth manages the house and dairy while the boys' Tom and Peter manage the fields. This playlist includes Tudor Feast at Christmas. *Recommended for all ages as well as for both a history classroom and agricultural classroom.*
7) Victorian Pharmacy - Episode 1 Episode 2 Episode 3 Episode 4
The Victorian Pharmacy was the place where cures could be found. It was the place where both the poor and rich could find medical care. Ruth Goodman, Ruth Barber, and Tom Quick work in a real Victorian Pharmacy, finding alternatives for the popular cures of the day. They how pharmacists made their medicines, brought people into the business, as well as how the industry became regulated. *Recommend a science and history classroom. Highly recommend independent study and clips for a lecture.*
8) *Tales From Green Valley: Episode 1 Episode 2 Episode 3 Episode 4 Episode 5 Episode 6 Episode 7 Episode 8 Episode 9 Episode 10 Episode 11 Episode 12
A group of historians and archeologists work on a farm that was established during the Jacobean Period. They make repairs around the farm, raise animals, and live the way farmers lived during the Jacobean Period. They build a new barn as well as a new privy. They work the farm during a calendar year, except they do not live on the farm. At the end of the year, many of the buildings were restored. *Highly recommend for both history and agricultural classroom.*
9) Turn Back Time - The High Street - Episode 1 Episode 2 Episode 3 Episode 4 Episode 5 Episode 6
Four families participate in reviving the High Street through different eras: Victorian, Edwardian, 1930's, World War II, 1960's, and the 1970's. They operate a grocer, butcher, blacksmith shop, dressmaker shop, and bakery. The Chamber of Commerce explores whether or not the High Street can be revived through this experiment. The participants are selected from locals and they promise to shop in only the period stores. *Recommend a history classroom and independent study classroom.*
10) Turn Back Time - The Family - Episode 1 Episode 2 Episode 3 Episode 4 Episode 5
This earlier series is where three families discover how families lived over several different periods including the Edwardian Period, Depression, World War II, and the 1960s. Three houses were transformed throughout the series to reflect the decade they are in. They lived in each house for a week. The families are living the lives of their ancestors. *Highly recommend for a history classroom and a family and consumer classroom. Good series for independent study students.*
Good Morning, we will continue our journey until Christmas with the story of the Christmas Truce. This Christmas Truce Happened during World War II. Thousands of Germans and English soldiers put down their arms to celebrate Christmas. It is a special episode during the Great War and it happened in 1914.
The Germans were determined to take the allied troops off guard. The French wanted to gain back their lost territories. The Germans wanted to take the French out that way they could fight the Russians on the eastern front. The Germans were pushed back and then they decided to dig in. However, this failed and both sides dug in. At the start of the war, the fighting was in the open field. There were no trenches. They fought in the open Nobody expected what was to come next.
The soldiers ranged from the ’20s to their 40’s. It was a professional army. They were career soldiers. There were no conscripts. The Home Service ran at half state and when the war started, other soldiers were recalled to make up the difference. Many of the men were not in tip-top fighting conditions. The British had lost 90,000 men. However, despite this, the German army was halted. The Great War was now a siege. The trench made it safer for the men to live.
However, poor drainage in the trenches leads to mud in the trenches. Mud was a constant problem and a constant companion. It was sticky. The men were sent to the hospital because of their cold and wet feet. It was a challenge to keep their feet clean. Sleeping was a challenge. It was so cold. They sleep on the fire step or sleep on bags. The man was exhausted. It was nearly impossible to keep clean in the trenches. With the little water, they had the soldiers managed to keep themselves clean.
Cleaning the weapons was also a challenge. The soldiers had to keep their guns clean. Two or three times the soldiers were clean the weapons. The mud could cause their guns to jam. Mealtimes were considered a high point of the day. The British rations were intended to feed the body. The food was repetitive. It keeps the body going.
Conditions were barely better on the German side of no man’s land. They worked on extending trenches. They tried to keep everyone supplied. The soldiers suffered from bowel problems. It was the same thing every single day. The men in the trenches do not see an end to the war. On Christmas, Eve frost comes. The conditions were ripe for what happened in December 1914. Something is in the air.
The British headquarters thought that the Germans would attack, however it was not an attack. They were celebrating Christmas. The British soldiers saw the colored lights. German families had sent Christmas trees to the front. The German soldiers started singing Christmas trees. The British soldiers were suspicious of the activities of the Germans. Slowly the suspicions went away. Soldiers started shouting across the no man’s land. On Christmas, you did not shoot each other. Slowly bolder spirits climbed out of the trenches to meet each other. Celebrations started breaking out among groups on Christmas Day. Christmas Day would be celebrated in an unforgettable way in December 1914.
This is an excellent documentary about the Christmas truce. It was a bit slow to set up, however, the slowness demonstrated what fostered the Christmas truce. I would show it in the classroom either as a teacher or a sub. It would be a great way to end off the year before Christmas vacation.
You can access the documentary at this link.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! To celebrate Christmas in December, we will be looking at Christmas documentaries. This next documentary is about the Legends of Santa Clause. Richard Attenborough explores the story of Santa Clause. The story of Santa takes us around the world.
The search for Santa begins in Turkey. This area was the birthplace of St. Nicholas. He was unique even as a baby. Fasting on Wednesdays to Fridays. A church is named in his honor. A now-empty tomb is believed to have healing powers. He was elected bishop. It was unusual, a voice in the night told a member to elect him as bishop. He became the patron saint of children and sailors.
His most famous story deals with a man’s three daughters. The father had no dowry for his daughters. His oldest daughter offered to be sold as a slave to provide a dowry. The father prayed and all of a sudden money was thrown through the window. The daughters were allowed to marry. These stories gave Nicholas a legendary status. He became a favorite saint. Italian sailors smuggled his bones out of Turkey and built a church around those bones. Modern Turks celebrate Saint Nicholas and are proud that he came from Turkey.
During Roman times Saturnalia became a feast day for Christians. Gifts and light were part of the celebrations. It was the midwinter celebrations. The Puritans would eventually ban celebrating Christmas because such celebrations were not found in the bible. Assigning the Christmas season to December 25 was a compromise.
Our story then moves to Amsterdam. The city streets and Canals are lined up with people ready to greet Father Christmas. He was known as Sinter Klaus. Due to the Reformation, many Catholic traditions were banned. However, the children would not have it, because they wanted to have a feast. The tradition that started in the streets turned into a home tradition. On the eve of St. Nicholas Day. The children would put out shoes by the fireplace, in these shoes would be a list of the children’s wishes and refreshments. They put out water, carrots, and apples and would sing a song to call out to Sinter Klaus. They sing the songs so that Black Peter, a rival of Sinter Clause, would know that they were good children. Black Peter was known as a punisher of children. HE would put the bad children in a sack and would be taken back to Spain. The children would be kept in Spain for a year and would be good and obedient.
Now we go across the Atlantic and New York City. Manhattan had a vital role in creating Santa into a character that is now recognized around the world. Many Dutch immigrants settled in New Amsterdam, present-day New York City. They brought the idea of Santa, but none of the rituals. Santa was going to be reinvented. In the early 19th Century Santa was reinvented. Washington Irving wrote about the Dutch tradition of Sinter Klaus. Clement Clarke Moore saw this story and would eventually write “A Visit from St. Nicholas.”
This is a sweet documentary about the history of Santa Clause. You traveled around the world to learn about the origins of Santa. So this would be a good documentary to show in class studying legends and stories. This documentary had a good pace throughout the episode and it was a good exploration of Santa’s Story. If you had a sub in the classroom at the end of the year before Christmas then they could show this documentary in the classroom.
You can access the YouTube Documentary Here.
Peter and Ruth return to the Wartime Farm. They come back to recreate the conditions of 1944 and celebrate Christmas. They will have their work cut out for them without Alex. The countryside had to support the city. Ruth clears out the ditches to help carry the water away. A pie scheme was created to help the farmworkers get the calories they needed to keep going.
Five years of fighting had devastated the farmland. The government was pushing and pushing for more farmland to be plowed up. The country people moved into the city to help the city folks. London was under threat from a new deadly weapon. V1 bombs were pilotless bombs, and when they came over a city, their engines would cut out and they would drop. The V2 rocket was the next weapon unleashed by the Nazis. Over 9,000 people were killed.
Ruth talks with a survivor of the London Bombings. For 1944, it was the first Christmas without her father because he was killed on D-Day. At the time, nobody told children if a parent died. These survivors treasure the letters her father sent her. The government sent out Anderson bomb shelters. However, they would be less than ideal. They would flood and they were not very secure. People were buried alive in the shelter. Farmers would use the shelters for storage.
London took the brunt of the attacks. They went to communal shelters. The Women’s Institute and Women’s Voluntary Institution helped take care of the people in the communal shelters. Peter and Ruth talk about what they should do for Christmas. At the start of the war, families evacuated to the country. By 1944, the country people went into the cities to help.
One moral booster was beer. Beer was never rationed during the war. During the war, barley shortages hit the breweries hard. So Peter looks for alternatives to make beer. Colin joins up with Peter to use potatoes to make beer. First, the potatoes need to be washed and put into sacks. Then they needed to be crushed. Colin then tries to make a brewery. Peter and Colin then use the potatoes to make beer. Containers used to store beer were in short supply, so Peter turns to pottery for a container.
Rationing and shortages made celebrating Christmas a challenge. Families either recycled old decorations or made new directions. They brought in colorful flowers called Chinese Lanterns. Christmas trees were scarce as well. Paper decorates were reused year after year. Balloons were also scarce. The Nazis were dropping strips of metal to confuse the radar. However, the people used this metal for Christmas decorations.
The farmers turn to the church for comfort during Christmas. During World War II people returned to the church. Before the war, people were falling away from the church. The war also turned people off the church and after the war, people stopped going to church. Ruth comments that the government wanted the church to bind people together. Even Stalin saw the value in religion and was encouraging churches to reopen. He hoped that the people could bind together and then after the war, religion was banned again.
Prisoners of War came to the local churches and performed for the congregation. Some members remained in England and married local girls. One local community member was friends with two prisoners of war. They both married local girls and they maintained a lifelong friendship with the local people.
After church, Peter checks on the potato beer. So did the beer turn out? Tune into the rest of this episode to find out.
This would be an excellent episode to show towards the end of December when school is winding down for the year.
To continue with the Christmas theme for December, we will look at Tudor Monastery Farm at Christmas. Christmas was the biggest celebration of the year. Ruth Goodman, Tom Pinfold, and Peter Ginn return to the Tudor Monastery farm to celebrate Christmas Tudor style.
Tudors celebrated Christmas over 12 days with the 12th night being the biggest party of the year. The farmers fasted for 24 days to prepare for the days of feasting. It was a chance to save food and money for the celebration. Farmers would also lay down their tools during the 12 days of Christmas. Peter and Tom would make sure that the animals were well fed before the celebrations.
Ruth prepares the pig's head for the Christmas feast. Boars head was the traditional meal for Christmas. The Boar was the fiercest animal that the Tudor hunted. They were hunted to extinction and so Ruth prepares a pig head. Ruth pickles the pig's head to preserve it for the feasting. To help Ruth prepare for the feasting, Tom stocks up the farm with wood. You could control the heat of the fire by using different woods.
To help brighten up the home, Peter goes into the woods to pick holly and ivy. Peter and Tom work to make a Christmas Crown to hang in the Tudor farm. They use their fence-building skills to make the crown. However, the boys made it too big for the farm door. Poor Ruth is busy with cooking for Christmas. Christmas was the time where the common people could experience the height of luxury. Foods from all around the world were a part of the Tudor Feast. It was also the chance for the Tudor Farmer to help the poor with their celebrations. There was a variety of foods that were made for the Tudor feast at Christmas. The Christmas Pudding and Mince pie made their way to the table during the feast at Christmas. The mince pie originally contained meat during the Tudor Period and over the years the spice and fruit combination while the meat in the pie declined. However, since there were no tins in the Tudor Period the pastry had to be quite stiff to bake.
The first day of the Twelve Days of Christmas was Christmas Day. It was on Christmas day when the people would break their fast. The day kicked off with a morning Mass. Ruth, Peter, and Tom celebrated Christmas with the people who helped them on the farm in the past year. It was the one time of year where the most meat would be eaten. Ruth makes the connection between the courses of the Tudor Feast and how modern people feast. Professor Ronald Hutton provides commentary on why there were celebrations during Midwinter.
The second day of the twelve days of Christmas was the feast day of St. Stephen. Peter checks on the animals. Tradition had it that farmers would not work in the field. Peter discovers that their pigs had piglets, much to Peter’s delight. The monasteries celebrated Christmas communally. The feasting in the monasteries tended towards the poultry: swans, ducks, and chickens. Tudor farmers raised huge amounts of swans, especially for the monasteries.
Ruth and Tom learn about falconry. Aristocrats learned it to show off for their friends, the lower classes of people learned it to hunt. This was another way that the Tudor farmer supplied the monastery with poultry.
To continue to learn more about the Tudor Feast at Christmas, continue to watch this episode.
You can show this episode during the Christmas season in school. You could even try to make some of the foods in the classroom!
You can access the YouTube video here.
This special series concludes with a Victorian Christmas celebration. The blacksmiths forge is up and running. Ruth prepares the Christmas feast.
Just copy and paste into a word document for use in the classroom.
Preparations continue for the Victorian Farm Christmas. Ruth makes presents for the boys and boys work to restore a blacksmith's forge to its former glory.
Just copy and paste into a word document for use in the classroom.
It has been a year since Peter Ginn, Alex Langladas, and Ruth Goodman lived as Victorian Farmers. Rupert Acton has several tasks for the Victorian farmers as the team prepares for a Victorian Christmas.
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