NOTE: This post is from 2011. Some of these videos may or may not be available to stream as of today.
I’ve been a customer of Netflix for many years now. Back when I first signed up, it was only DVDs by mail. Now you get instantly streaming shows and movies into your living room through a PC or an XBox or a Wii console and it’s glorious.
I’ve run across a bunch of different history and genealogy related instant streaming options and I thought I’d share them with you. Though, these are not all specifically genealogy-related, some may be about the areas your ancestors once lived. Also, these videos are obviously more related to my ancestry than just general ancestry. If you have a Netflix account, these links should link you right to the video info page. If you don’t have a Netflix account, I will try to find another informational page for you to view. These are only Netflix Instant versions, not DVD by mail versions. There are a lot more if you also count DVD versions, though you’ll need to wait for those. Instant ones you can watch right now. Let’s see the list I can up with.
National Geographic: The Human Family Tree
Charting human history from its ancient roots in Africa to its startling evolution over time, geneticist Spencer Wells and his fellow scientists with National Geographic’s Genographic Project uncover fascinating truths about the commonalities of man.
I really enjoyed this one as being someone who is very interested in how we are all connected through our DNA.
Out of Ireland: Story of Emigration into America
Writer-director Paul Wagner’s thoughtful documentary details the history of Irish immigration to America using archival and contemporary film footage, readings from correspondence and expert analysis to convey the flavor and progression of events.
I enjoyed the historical aspect of the video. It can be a bit dull at times, but it’s not the fault of the historical context. People with Irish ancestors would find it very interesting.
Michael Palin’s New Europe
Intrepid traveler and Monty Python alum Michael Palin continues his globe-trotting adventures, this time closer to home, as he visits the Central and Eastern European countries once shrouded by the Iron Curtain of the Cold War era. Beginning in the mountains of Slovenia, Palin continues on through Croatia, the Ukraine, the former East Germany and Latvia, revealing the rich characters of both the countries and their inhabitants.
I enjoy travel shows, especially to areas where my ancestors came from. Michael Palin is also very easy to watch. He has a good sense of humor (obviously) and really knows his history. I enjoyed episode 6 when he went through northern Poland, where my ancestors were from.
Ken Burns: The Civil War
This documentary masterpiece from Ken Burns depicts the strategies and action of famous Civil War battles, and relates the stories of generals, field soldiers, politicians, heroes and a beleaguered president. The Emmy-winning miniseries begins by looking at the factors that led to the firing on Fort Sumter, and covers specific notable battles, climaxing with Gen. Robert E. Lee’s surrender and Pres. Abraham Lincoln’s assassination.
Those with Civil War ancestors will probably enjoy this video more than others. Ken Burns is known for his great historical documentaries. Though, he is not known for his exciting and over-the-top style, it’s still very interesting. I don’t have many Civil War ancestors that were involved in any major battles, but I still found it helpful in explaining how it completely changed this country.
African American Lives 2
Harvard University Prof. Henry Gates Jr. serves as host for this intriguing documentary that uses DNA testing, genealogical research and family histories to trace the ancestry of prominent African-Americans, including Morgan Freeman and Maya Angelou.
I have actually not watched this, since I just found it now, but I assume it’s almost exactly like the Faces of America show on PBS last year. I’ve added it to my instant queue and will watch it soon. I have no African American ancestry, but those who do will probably find it much more engaging, though I know I’ll enjoy the historical aspects of the information.
America: The Story of Us
Experience American history like never before with this television miniseries that highlights such momentous events as the arrival of the Pilgrims, the American Revolution, the Civil War and the incredible lunar landing. Narrated by Liev Schreiber, this comprehensive look into the true character of the United States and its people interweaves cutting-edge animation, insightful interviews and dramatic re-creations.
I originally watched this series when it debuted on the History Channel and it was very good. While not exactly a “genealogy” video, almost all of our ancestors came into, and shaped, this country in some way.
This is what I found from a pretty quick search. I’m always looking for more good genealogy/historical videos. Do you know of any other good Instant Netflix videos?