When Lisa and I were young we read the “Little House” series of children’s books about growing up on the western U.S. frontier. These books continue to shape the way Lisa and I imagine our ancestors’ lives during that era. Well, the “grown-up” version of the Little House series has finally been published!
Pioneer Girl: The Annotated Autobiography of Laura Ingalls Wilder, edited by Pamela Smith Hill, is our newest Genealogy Gems Book Club. It’s the never-before-published autobiography Laura wrote in the 1930s. The stories and memories she shares in it are the basis for her popular Little House children’s series.
Across the cover of a dime store paper tablet, Laura scrawled “Pioneer Girl.” Then she filled it with detailed recollections of family, and neighbors, wagon trains and homesteads. In other words, memories of pioneering in an American West that was fading away. Her stories will intrigue–and sometimes stun–any Laura Ingalls Wilder fan.
In the Book Club announcement in Genealogy Gems Podcast Episode 181, I asked Lisa what makes this book a standout and a prime candidate for genealogists. Her answer? “The immaculate research that went into it. The stunning example it sets for source citations, which consume large portions of most of the pages. And the often never seen before photos sprinkled throughout that bring the people and times to life visually for the reader.”
Look for more on Pioneer Girl in the coming two months on the Genealogy Gems podcast and website. In September, Genealogy Gems Premium members will get to enjoy Lisa’s full interview with editor Pamela Smith Hill. We’ll play an excerpt on the free Genealogy Gems podcast.
Want to see more great titles we’ve recommended? Click here to access the Genealogy Gems Book Club, with best-selling titles: fiction, memoir, history and family histories. OR click here to see our growing list of how-to genealogy titles we love and have featured on Genealogy Gems in the past.
We’re so pleased we just had to tell you our great news….The Genealogy Gems Podcast has been nominated for the first-ever Academy of Podcasters Awards!
Ten nominees were named in each category by The Academy of Podcasters in an event expected to become annual, according to the Academy website. We were chosen “by a combination of input from the Academy, the board, and from other podcast rating services.” The Genealogy Gems Podcast was nominated in the “Parenting, Family and Kids” category.
Podcaster and comedian Colt Cabana will host the actual awards show on July 31, 2015 at the Omni Fort Worth in Forth Worth, Texas. It’s not far from home and I hope to stop by to celebrate on my way home from speaking at the BYU Family History Conference!
In case you’re not already a listener….The FREE Genealogy Gems Podcast, our flagship “online radio show” with 1.75 million downloads, helps you make the most of your family history research time by providing quick and easy-to-use research techniques. As the producer and host, I do my darndest to bring you the best websites, best practices, and best resources available for genealogy!
Listening has never been easier because now you can easily stream podcasts on your smartphone or tablet in addition to listening online at our website or in iTunes. To listen on your mobile device, just get the Genealogy Gems app for iPhone or iPad and Android. To learn more about the show or read FAQ, click here.
Try our other podcasts, too:
- Family History: Genealogy Made Easy, a free step-by-step series for new or starting-over genealogists
- The Genealogy Gems Premium Podcast, a monthly in-depth news and how-to show with MORE great interviews, tips and tricks. This is available as part of our annual subscription package, which also includes a year’s access to a full range of genealogy education videos.
Thank you Academy of Podcasters!
A lot of the best information about our ancestors’ lives is buried in an archive–NOT indexed online! Melissa Barker explains what an archive is and how to find one that might reveal secrets from your family history.
International Archives Day is Friday, June 9! Genealogy Gems contributing archivist Melissa Barker tells us what an archive IS and how to find one.
Recently, I was asked “What is an archive?” I was a bit surprised by this question since it came from a genealogist. I thought all genealogists knew about archives!
What exactly is an archive?
An archive is defined by the Society of American Archivists as: An organization that collects the records of individuals, families, or other organizations. The “organization” they are talking about could be any organization. It doesn’t have to be only a county archive, such as the Houston County, Tennessee Archive, or a state archives, like the California State Library and Archives. Archives include:
- A historical society that collects and preserves local records is also considered an archive.
- A genealogical society that accepts donations of family records is an archive.
- A museum that has exhibits and displays may also have records collections and would be considered an archive.
- Local public libraries that have genealogy rooms with records in them are archives.
The term “archive” is not solely used to represent a county or state archive. Any organization that accepts, collects and preserves historical and genealogical documents, records, memorabilia and artifacts is considered an archive, even if they don’t have the word “archive” in their title.
There are many different kinds of archives that can be accessed by genealogists. I always say, “There is an archive for everything.” Just because the building doesn’t have the word “archive” on it, don’t discount the fact that there is a “place” where there are historical and genealogical records being preserved or at the very least stored.
Tips for finding and visiting archives
The next time you are doing research on your ancestor in the area where they lived…
Ask around: There is always someone in the local area that knows the local history and knows many of the local families and most importantly; these people usually know where to find the records! This person may even be able to tell you about the family you are researching.
Ask around in the community, call the local library or the local Chamber of Commerce and ask, “Who is the local historian, who is the one knows about the families and history of the area?” I guarantee that you will be given a name. Ask where the records are stored or archived. Contact the local historical and/or genealogical society.
Be prepared to get dusty: There have been many times when I had arrived at the place where I was told the records were located. I was then shown a closet, the attic or basement and I was left to my own research devices to go through boxes and shelves of records. You have to ask the questions and you may even have to do some sleuthing in the local areas your researching in to locate the records.
Don’t leave any stone unturned. The records you are looking for could be sitting in boxes, archived or not, just waiting for you to find them. Remember: It’s not all online, contact or visit and archive today!
The Archive Lady, Melissa Barker shares a short archiving segment in the Genealogy Gems Premium Podcast, available to Genealogy Gems Premium website members. Premium website members have access to the entire Premium Podcast archive of more than 200 episodes AND more than two dozen video classes by internationally-known genealogy educator Lisa Louise Cooke. Genealogy Gems Premium Membership offers so many fun and innovative ways to do genealogy! Click here and start enjoying it today.