People’s History Jackpot!

Presence of the Past – History on the Screen   AND   World War One


The new film They Shall Not Grow Old, by Peter Jackson (Lord of the Rings, The Feebles, Bad Taste) which consists of meticulously colorized original film footage from World War One is astounding.

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It’s a work of art. Jackson deployed the digital tools of storytelling that through his work on bringing the JRR Tolkein fantasy world to the screen he’s helped advance to the equally necessary telling of real life, true stories of history.


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Even for history buffs and experts, there’s just some emotional, mental distinction rendered by images from the past being black and white. I’ve looked at thousands of incredible as well as mundane pictures of the First World War–and am lucky to have hundreds available to me in the form of the pictures and postcards brought home from that war by my grandpa, like this one of the tank. And I’ve checked out a good deal of the old filmed bits, too.

But nothing prepared me for how visceral, how suddenly present and real it all seemed Screen Shot 2018-12-19 at 10.43.11 AM.pngin this marvel of film. Not only has he colorized it, but he’s done some pitch perfect sound editing that would make Walter Murch proud and which all audio engineers should pay attention to.

Probably the clincher, though, is the narration: the only voices heard are those of actual veterans of The Great War telling their stories. If it doesn’t at times bring tears to your eyes, I don’t know what would…maybe a war.

I think it’s safe to say that for the first time in recent memory, that infamous War to EndScreen Shot 2018-12-19 at 10.43.23 AM.png All Wars (u-hem) is tangible.

See the trailer here.




It was a hundred years ago today!


main_900What we these days call today (and observe tomorow) “Veteran’s Day” began life (ironically) exactly 100 years ago TODAY as “Armistice Day” denoting that 11/11/1918 was the day on which a cease fire (or armistice) began between the armies of the German Empire and those of the armies united against it along what was called the Western Front, namely the armies of France, England and the United States of America (among others). It was the day marking the end of that world-shattering and recasting event that took around 40 million lives (   ….  words fail….) known as World War One.

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I’m leaning on the honorable accident of history that my mom’s dad (seen post-war to the right) was present “somewhere in France”–as his letters and postcards of the time routinely stated–on the Western Front on 11/11/1918 at the moment that cease-fire ended the fighting of that First World War.

bavariansoldiers.jpgI’m posting below some of the photographs and postcards he sent and/or brought back home with him that depict various details of what he experienced during the war that was at the time known as the War to End All Wars. I know, the hubris of people calling it that back then might be funny if it wasn’t so…grossly awful.

In addition, and to the left and lower right, are pictures of soldiers he was ostensibly and very literally fighting: troops of the German army. Specifically, these men were in the regiments of the German forces in which the great-granddad of a friend of mine also served. He was from northeasternGERM 32ND ERSATZ.jpg Bavaria (near the city of Nuremburg) and served in three different infantry regiments during the war…and lived!

On this day, 100 years ago, his great-grandad (named Wilhelm) and mine (named Lee)IMG_0003_2_3 were about 350 yards apart from each other across the “Western Front”; i.e., the raged, jagged, tightly wavy line that ran from the waters of the North Sea near the France-Belgium border toward the southeast a couple hundred miles, terminating at the Alps of Switzerland.


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Here are the “best-of” from my granddad’s collection.

WARNING: some of the images are graphic, I’ve done what I could to clearly indicate which, but if you’re not into it, do what you gotta do.


Senior Descendants of Edward III Pt.4

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Below is the third family tree of the most senior line of descent from England’s King Edward III (1312 – 1377), through his daughter Isabella—the oldest of his children who left descendants.*

The previous (second) chart began with Jeanne of Bar (1415 – 1462), Edward III’s 2nd-great-granddaughter and her husband, a prince of Luxembourg named Louis. It showed that they had had several kids after the generations between the King Edward III and this Jeanne had tenuously existed, with short-lived parents of only children (shown in the 1st chart). Jeanne’s and Louis’s nice big brood ensured that the senior line of Ed3’s Plantagenet descendants would carry on. The eldest of their kids who had kids themselves—Jacqueline de Luxembourg—married Charles_d'Arenberg_and_Anne_de_Croy_with_family_by_F.Pourbus_Jr._(c.1593,_Arenbergkasteel).jpginto the wealthy French-Belgian family of de Croÿ. The second chart also showed how four generations down the line, the oldest child was again a daughter—Anne de Croÿ (1563 – 1635), whose marriage to Charles de Ligne (1550 – 1616) brought the massive riches of the Arenberg dynasty into the fold. Their family can be seen in this wild painting to the right and up top. That’s Anne there in the center, senior descendant in the 9th generation from Edward III. That chart concluded with Charles and Anne’s oldest child Philippe-Charles de Ligne d’Arenberg (1587 – 1640), presumably the boy standing in the painting next to dad. Through his dad he was the 3rd Count of Arenberg, and via his mom he was the 6th Duke of Aarschot.

BOURBON GUISE copy 2Interestingly, Jacqueline of Luxembourg’s next younger sibling, a brother named Pierre—he and his wife turn out to be ancestors of both the Bourbon kings of France (and later, including now, of Spain) and the Stuart kings of Britain, who lead of course to the Hanover and thus current ruling Windsor family of the the United Kingdom; so ironically, the line ruling England—which, strictly technically, wasn’t the most senior line descended from Edward III did in fact link back into a significantly more senior line, Philippe_Charles_Darenbergthough still not as much as the line from Jacqueline and de Croÿ.

So today’s chart picks up with Philippe-Charles de Ligne d’Arenberg, 6th Duke of Aarschot, 3rd Count of Arenberg. Fascinating guy. For the time period, he seems to have been an open-minded, smart person who cared about people, including his family. He died imprisoned in Spain by the Habsburg’s, whom he had served exceedingly well, but then was blackballed by someone accusing him of plotting against the King (Philip IV).04Philippe_Francois

Two of his three marriages left kids. The first two from the first05Charles_Eugene marriage, like his son Philippe François, 1st Duke of Arenberg, pictured to the left, had kids as well as grandkids. But the lines petered out after not too much time.

From the second marriage and his son Charles Eugene, 2nd Duke of Arenberg, seen to the right, descends the current 13th Duke of Arenberg, Leopold-Engelbert of Arenberg, lower right with his wife. Leo-Engelbert & the Mrs apparently are quite engaged in philanthropy and efforts of European cooperation. 13leopold_darenberg

But our designs here are on the Philippe-Charles’ third child, a daughter named once again Jeanne, who sired with her husband Alexandre_II._Hyppolyte_Balthasar_de_BournonvilleAlexandre II de Bournonville, seen with his most bushy hair/wig in this old print to the left, those who carried forward the still most senior descendants of good ole Edward III and the Plantagenets.

And their eldest, Anne-Marie, married back into the de Croÿ Anne-Emmanuel_de_Croÿ-Solre_(1718-1784).jpgfamily, leading to Emmanuel, seen to the right, who was a Marshall of France and died in Paris just before the Revolution. The line has continued as the de Croÿ-Solre to the present day, with a daughter leading to the most senior descendant having a different name only in the latest generation.


Chart No. 3 Tracing Senior Plantagenets



*For those not versed in the topic, the oldest of Edward III’s kids was a son, also named Edward, who died just a year before his dad the king did, and although his son became king in his place when Edward III died, young Richard II had no kids. And though you can find scads of sources for seeing the descent from the sons Lionel, John, Edmund and Thomas—all younger than Isabella—I was surprised not to find any pre-traced documentation of the actual most senior line; this is the 4th part in my sharing there results of discovering who Isabella’s descendants were and are.)

Visualizing History: Tight Focus

Here’s a collection of images for relatives of mine converging this weekend in northern Wisconsin.


My 2x-great-grandad, readers of this blog and relatives will know I’m talking about George P.B. Campbell (1835-1910) was one of those 19th century chaps who had two families: 8 kids from the first and 4 from the second. The first wife and he had been kids together (eloped when they were 17). After her death on a hot 4th of July weekend in 1877 he didn’t remarry for a couple years.

When he did it was to her cousin’s daughter, who had been a longtime helper to his family anyway. Most of his kids from the 1st marriage moved to southern Minnesota about then (some married, others just followed; for instance the son that was my mom’s “Grampa Campbell” became a gardener for some rich fella around Minneapolis who also had a cook from Sweden. GPB & SLKLove bloomed, etc etc).

Well George’s own brothers who had lived nearby also moved: one to California where two other bro’s lived, the other to Colorado. So George himself–by trade a lumberman and carpenter–with his new wife and baby son Preston followed the logging trend and moved to northern Wisconsin around 1883. He built a log cabin near the town of Chetek, later turned it into a proper house and three more sons came along.


The even this weekend centers on those who resulted from the 2nd son of this 2nd family named Willy Wally Campbell. What’s amazing to me is that ok, this George was born in 1835 (in Indiana as his parents moved west CAMPBELL JRNEE MAP 1from Pennsylvania to Wisconsin). His dad, who died when he was 14, was the only surviving son of the Campbell immigrant. George never met this grandfather, none of his siblings did.


In other words, there was no craggy ole Scotsman spinnin’ yarns–as such. Why do I mention all this? Because he named his son almost 100 yeWW STATars after his immigrant grandfather came here after the ultimate Scottish hero, good ole William Wallace. It’s very common in fact to find Scottish people generations away from their Scot ancestor name-checking the rebellious Scottish warrior to let the world know: “Ah’m a bet Scote. Beh uh-wheerrr”.


And just look at this guy, too, he looks–I gotta say–like a million bucks. Burly, handsome, charming. Damn!

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More later.



For Willy Wally Campbell Reunion

Here are some reference charts for the July 22nd Reunion.

1. George P.B. Campbell in context of his siblings and parents.


2. The two families of Geo P.B. Campbell showing how his two wives (the moms of each family) were related, and showing which son from the 1st family I’m descended from down to my granddad, Lee H. Campbell. (FYI, my mom’s dad).

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History on the Screen 3.1: Victoria and The Crown Pt. 2

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Below you’ll find the doppelganger chart I mentioned the day before yesterday, that shows the tele-cinematic counterparts of the historical people of the British royal family appearing in the first two seasons of both shows, Victoria (PBS & WGBH Materpiece) and The Crown (Netflix).

From George to shining George.

King_George_III_of_England_by_Johann_ZoffanyEr, from old King George III–who lost the American colonies and later went crazy–down to his 7th-great-grandson, the wee Prince sd-aspect-1461114471-prince-george-800George, who, somewhat coincidentally, if and when he becomes king anywhere from like the year 2033 to the 2070s (!!!) will be King George VII.

Incidentally, in the course of scouring the web for pictures of both the real Victoria and Elizabeth II when they were young, I found two of particular interest, one of each.E n M 1

Here’s the one of Elizabeth II. It’s awesome. Because in it she looks like she’s being just absolutely real, her real self (whoever that is) and though that isn’t *necessarily* any of our business, in the same spirit that The Crown brilliantly humanizes her, so too does this picture. All the more interesting and charming because she’s with her sister, who is known (from real life for those who’ve been alive longer, u-hem) and the show to have been the more animated, lively, apt to be found tossing one back and guffawing. And yet here, ’tis Her Majesty doing just that. Plus, it’s a hoot, that checked-out expression on Tony’s face.

V 1The particular one I found of Victoria is just a bit below. But why it caught my attention so sharply warrants a short explanation and some other pix. Ok, so I V 3found some genuinely charming pictures of young and younger Victoria from the era that the show so far has covered. Like these, to the right and the left.

And, ok, we all sort of know that tele-cinematic depictions of people–no matter who–are going to involve casting actors who generally speaking have physical looks that conform more to the telegenic norms. Ya with me? In other words, literally on the face of it, although they’ve done clever and appropriate things to Jenna Coleman’s hair and face to give the impression of Victoria, Jenna is just cute as a button, conventionally speaking, doesn’t have that proud and tremendous nose Victoria had, or the lovely and ample rounded cheeks.

Victoria_sketch_1835But then this picture caught my eye. (Wasn’t hiding anywhere esoteric, either; it’s on the Wikipedia page.) This picture is a self-portrait that Victoria drew about the time she took the throne. This is how the young Victoria saw herself. I think it looks so much like Jenna Coleman that I’m fairly if not fully convinced that the geniuses making the show intentionally cast an actress who resembled this picture, because that’s the point of the show: we’re seeing the world as she saw it, so by God why should we see the woman any way but how she saw herself?

Genius move.

And I think my somewhat wacky idea, here, gains Her_Majesty's_Gracious_Smile_by_Charles_Knightcredence with this other picture, taken of the old Victoria. But it’s different in that–look at that smile! Her face is transformed! She doesn’t even, to me anyway, resemble the stolid, stoic Victoria that we’re all quite used to seeing. This smiling woman looks so sweet, so loving, so warm and present and…just the way Jenna portrays her, as she’s written and directed in the show.

So, to keeping the public at bay if ya need to.

And to warmth. At least on that level, the monarch gets to have their cake and share it with whom they please.

Here’s the tree w/ the actors next to their historical characters.


History on the Screen 3: Victoria & The Crown

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Having recently gotten into the two excellent, deeply enjoyable and artistically elite mini-series The Crown (from Netflix) and Victoria (from WGBH’s Masterpiece and ITV from the UK) it seemed only natural to make a family tree of the British monarchs showing how the crown indeed made its way between the two longest serving sovereigns–Queens, both–from HRM Victoria to HRM Elizabeth II.

It appears below. But since these shows, especially The Crown, are so popular, I feel obliged to confess that I’m a bit of a later comer to it.


After months of seeing the gently lit silouhette of actress Clarie Foy as a young Queen Elizabeth II as my Netflix wallpaper, actively avoiding even checking it out—hilariously sort of Screen Shot 2018-03-13 at 1.44.23 PM.pngpathetic pattern I seem to repeat throughout my life when first confronted with an item that not only ends up being of interest to me, but crawls right in there with the marrow, I even generate “logical” excuses as to why I don’t need that thing: Sgt. Pepper’s, “too sensitive“; Paul’s Boutique, “too frivolous”—I finally got on board with The Crown, thanks to watching an episode with my mom over Christmas, blasting my way through the BS excuse this time of “too irrelevant to politics”. ROFLOL


I didn’t really binge it. Well, not all of it, not all at once.

The episode I’d watched over Xmas was the Jackie Kennedy one. And after it was over, a near total convert I eagerly shared how I couldn’t wait to indulge in watching the next, and the next etc. And THEN she tells me, “Sorry, buddy, this is from season 2, and it’s almost over.” The cruelty.

After returning home from the Xmas visit, full with the painful knowledge that there was very little of this precious show *after* the bit I’d seen, I solemnly went back to start the show from its beginning; even if I knew the end of being with it was coming, and when!– at least, I told myself, I can enjoy season 1 and the run-up to where I’d entered.

Episode 1 was a great intro and re-entry. But Episode 2 “Hyde Park Corner”, which follows the events around George VI’s death blew my mind. It made me realize just how awesome this show is. It achieves that special thing that is what the cinematic arts are all about. Later, reading about the show, Claire Foy shared that that, the death of Elizabeth’s dad, was the central fact for getting to her character. Watch it if you haven’t, and if you have, enjoy it again! It’s profound and masterfully done. Anyway! And, in the unexpected turn that my experience of this show is a microcosm of life, being aware of just how Screen Shot 2018-03-13 at 2.04.29 PMawesome it indeed is, just how little of it there was, I decided to savor it and didn’t want to use up all the episodes, so I started pacing myself.

I’m still saving the last episode. 🙂


I didn’t prop any such fortitude in watching Victoria, though, although I haven’t seen most of season 1 of it because my PBS (what is UP, KQED?!?) for some reason doesn’t offer the streaming episodes where I live. But I was able to find two from season 1 and all of King_George_III_of_England_by_Johann_Zoffanyseason 2 and binged away. Great, great stuff.

Anyway, being the geek for charts that I am, I put together this one below showing the relational line from Queen Victoria to her great-great-granddaughter Queen Elizabeth II. Actually, it includes back to Victoria’s grandfather, George III, who of course lost America (and is infamous here as some tyrant from whom we freed ourselves, even though it was Parlaiment and not George behind the laws our Founders represented as oppressive).

ERNST VICT SHOWSo on the chart at the bottom it’s easy to follow the line of the throne from George III and how the crown bounced from Victoria’s head and landed on Elizabeth’s and not that of the heads of George’s surviving eldest male line of Ernest_Augustus_I_of_Hanoverdescendants. They descend from Victoria’s digruntled uncle, Ernst, the Duke of Cumberland and King of Hanover, who appears in “Victoria” (real to the left, show on the right). He was the younger brother of Victoria’s dad, but the senior son to have a son; they stayed in Germany, as Kings of Hanover, and when WW-I broke out they remained loyal to Germany. As a result, they were stripped of their British titles and such. Then when the war ended, the Germans had a revolution and stripped them (along with all the other German nobility) of their German titles. Don’t worry about them too much, though, they’re still filthy, filthy rich.

Anyway, what’s amazing, is that between the two shows not a generation is missed, since Elizabeth II’s grandmother, Mary of Teck, appears in The Crown, and she was married to George V, who, though he’s not in the show, was the son of Edward VII, who appears as a baby and then child inV to MT.png Victoria. Neat! The excerpted chart to the right shows from Victoria, along with their TV counterparts, to her grandson’s wife Mary of Teck, whose show counterpart, remember, appears in The Crown.

The full chart below then extends down from E2 to William and Catherine’s kids because, well…kids are cute and George (the VII, someday far in the future) and his sister Charlotte are cute kids, and of course, Harry and his soon-to-be-wife, in whom the Royals come full circle since 1776 and now marrying American royalty from tinseltown itself. Nice one, Harry!


Tomorrow I’ll post the doppelganger of this full chart that has everyone’s counterparts from the two shows. Enjoy! And remember to click the charts so you can see them big and up close.