Tracking Your Past

While I recovered facedown following recent eye surgery, a friend pointed to the joys of podcasts. From less than 10 minutes to an hour or so, genealogy podcasts proved a perfect pastime when stuck inside in a prone position. They entertained and helped me create to-do lists for the time I could return to upright research.

Doris Green

Binging on genealogy podcasts led to a few realizations about their usefulness. A few samples: “Lisa Louise Cooke’s Genealogy Gems,” “Genealogy Happy Hour,” Ancestral Findings “Genealogy Gold,”  “The Genealogy Guys,” “Extreme Genes,” “The Professional Genealogist,” “Research Like a Pro.” 

Several offer interviews with expert family history researchers, authors, archivists, librarians and family historians with amazing tales from genealogy frontlines. The lost diary that turned up after decades. The rediscovered letter that identified the man a great-grandmother had really married. The train ticket that pinpointed an ancestor’s relocation.

These serial podcasts each have their own style: In “Genealogy Happy Hour,” Amy Lay and Penny Bonawitz highlight a wine before diving into a half-hour interview or research strategy. “The Genealogy Guys” end their interviews with a suggested book, website, tool or tip. “Ancestral Findings” currently intersperses weekly shows of seven-minute tips with weekly chapters from the fictional “The Lost Treasures of Francis Wainwright,” featuring five cousins on the search for a family treasure. “The Professional Genealogist” features a mother-daughter duo who strike a more serious tone and explain how to become a certified pro. This monthly hour-long show is moving to twice-monthly production.

Other genealogy podcasts exist and finding your personal favorite is part of the fun. A podcast that appears simplistic (your research is well beyond this stage) may yet yield a valuable tip or reminder. Personal faves are “Extreme Genes,” a weekly half-hour interview show produced in partnership with the New England Genealogical Society, and “Lisa Louise Cooke’s Genealogy Gems.” In an hour-long format, Cooke shares her own discoveries, such as author interviews and recent client serendipitous finds.

Begin listening by visiting a show’s website or downloading an app through iTunes or GooglePlay. (Stitcher works well on Android devices.) As you explore other podcasts, you may find ones that speak to your research interests. For instance, “Research at the National Archives” often offers information related to African-American heritage; other podcasts focus on ethnic or geographic regions.

Doris Green authored “Elsie’s Story: Chasing a Family Mystery” and “Wisconsin Underground: A Guide to Cave, Mines, and Tunnels.” Newly available: “Minnesota Underground: A Guide to Caves & Karst, Mines & Tunnels,” is co-authored Greg Brick. Contact http://henschelhausbooks.com, Amazon or your bookstore.