Here at Ancestry, the Research and Editorial Team (of which I am a part) loves the TV show, Timeless. It makes sense. The show centers around a group of time travelers. And, what family historian do you know that doesn’t wish they could travel back in time to the places their ancestors lived?
(If you haven’t watched Season 1 yet, you might want to binge watch it while working on your own family tree this weekend. Come to think of it, I may do that, too. Even though I’ve already seen every episode. Don’t judge me.)
Season 2 of Timeless premiers Sunday evening on NBC. The teaser reveals that Lucy finds herself on the French battlefront during World War I where she is trying to save an American solider who turns out to be her great-grandfather. She enlists none other than Nobel Prize winner Marie Curie to assist her in her daring rescue.
Being the curious genealogists we are, the Research Team couldn’t let the opportunity pass to dig into the Ancestry collections to see what records we have for Madame Curie that give us a little more insight into the life of one of the world’s greatest scientists.
In 1921, 53 year old, Marie, traveled from Paris to New York with her two daughters, Irene, age 23, and Eve, age 16 at the invitation of a group of American women who had formed the Marie Curie Committee.
These American women had heard how Madame Curie had been forced to abandon her research into radium and its ability to treat cancer because she had given her entire supply to the war effort. The fundraising efforts of this committee raised nearly $200,000. That money purchased one gram of radium that was presented to her at the White House.
Touching stories of the women who helped raise those funds, and insights into how Marie Curie accepted that gift and dedicated its use, were told in newspapers across the country for much of the next decade. Here is one example from the Syracuse (New York) Herald on 27 Nov 1927.
Of course, these events in Marie’s life transpired years after the WWI timeline to be portrayed on Timeless this week. So, while we were at it, the Research Team also took the opportunity to learn a little bit more about the family history of Abigail Spencer (who plays Lucy). It turns out that Abigail’s great-grandfather, Yancey Bailey Spencer Sr, served in France during World War I. I wonder if he was one of the estimated one million wounded soldiers treated through the humanitarian efforts of Marie Curie and her team.
According to his WWI Draft Registration Card, Yancey was born in Milton, North Carolina in 1891. He was 5’8″ with blonde hair and blue eyes. He worked as a plasterer both before and after his service in the war.
Abigail’s great-grandfather served in France during WWI. Lucy’s great-grandfather served in France during WWI. I’m excited to watch Timeless on Sunday night to see what other similarities might pop up. Come find me on Twitter and we can live tweet the episode together.