Saturday, 4 August 2012

Genealogy podcasts

As with people, more genealogy and family history podcasts have come and gone than are alive today. Some only lasted a few episodes.

What is a podcast and what's the difference between a podcast and a webinar?

There isn't a lot. They're both multimedia presentations in the form of a series. Webinars are live online events, usually with the type of visual aid you find in a conference presentation. They provide for real-time audience input and feedback. Some podcasts also have a live feed although none of the family history ones. Webinars are often also available after the live event, although usually for a limited time whereas podcasts are usually archived and available indefinitely. Podcasts, at least the better ones, provide show notes which are like a presentation handout giving more detail, with links to online resources and other references.

The Genealogy Gems Podcast, produced by Lisa Louise Cook, started in March 2007 and appears roughly monthly. Lisa has found a happy niche in the podcast universe; many people have been helped and even inspired by her advice. While iTunes doesn't publish statistics on popularity Genealogy Gems is listed first when you search on iTunes for genealogy, likely meaning it's currently the most popular.
As well as the free podcast Lisa has a premium podcast. The cost is about $30 per year. Genealogy Gems serves to promote the premium one, and also advertises Lisa's many speaking engagements, books and instructional CDs.

There are 137 episodes in the series as of the one posted on July 22nd which was headlined Food and Family History and NetVibes update. On food Lisa spoke with Gina Philibert Ortega about her new book From The Family Kitchen: discover your food heritage and preserve favorite recipes. The item on NetVibes was advertising an enhancement to her premium podcast which provides a greater archive of episodes than previously available.

iTunes puts Genealogy Gems in the category of Kids and Family.

The Genealogy Guys Podcast is found in iTunes' Society and Culture category. Hosted by George Morgan and Drew Smith, it started in September 2005 and promotes George's initiative, Aha! seminars, as well as other sponsors and their conference appearances and books. George Morgan is the author of How to Do Everything Genealogy, which has received mostly five star reviews on Amazon. Drew Smith is author of Social Networking for Genealogists published in 2009.

Most episodes consist of news of the genealogy community, mainly US,  and e-mail segments where George and Drew respond to questions from listeners and provide advice. Episode 238 appeared on July 8th. What was, and still is, advertised as weekly is now appearing roughly monthly. The previous episodes were on May 26th, April 29th, and April 8th. Three episodes with a different format appeared between February 29th and March 24th were interviews recorded at Rootstech.

Both these podcasts are produced with largely a US audience in mind. While I listen to many of the episodes from both podcasts I usually wait until a long flight has to be endured and download unheard episodes to my iPhone.

Family Tree Magazine podcast is from the publishers of the US magazine by that name. It promises that "each month you'll hear from the editor for a sneak peek at what's coming up, news from the blogosphere, top tips from the current issue, the best of Family Tree Magazine and much more." The host is Lisa Louise Cook.

There are now 50 episodes online, typically 45 minutes each. Episode 49, the most recent  posted as I write, also includes a segment with Gina Philibert Ortega  on her book From The Family Kitchen.

Just as you'll probably hear the same news on the various TV networks so the same genealogy news tends to crop up on the various podcasts. Be selective.

If there are no similar podcasts covering a range of family history topics in Canada and the UK, unless I've overlooked them.

Library and Archives Canada has a podcast series, your history, your documentary heritage  (scroll down), which aims to "show custom treasures from our vaults, guide you through our many services and introduce you to the people who acquire, safeguard and make known Canada's documentary heritage."

The series started this February and so far there are just three episodes the most recent being "The Shamrock and the Fleur-de-Lys". The show notes are comprehensive including a transcript. Because they are specialized not all episodes will likely be of equal interest.

The UK National Archives offer podcasts which are mostly recordings of presentations given to an audience at Kew. Starting in September 2008 there are now 263 episodes covering a huge range of British historical and archival interest, many of which relate to family history. A typical episode might be 45 min.

The presentations are by highly knowledgeable people, but unfortunately the visual aids used are rarely available and the show notes are skimpy. Many of the episodes suffer from audio problems with speakers moving back and forth from the microphone. This doesn't seem so pronounced more recently. I rarely miss an episode that looks at all promising and make a habit of attending the presentations in person when at TNA.

Please add information in a comment if I've missed your favorite podcast or not done justice to one of those mentioned.

1 comment:

Celia Lewis said...

Very good summary and description of podcasts, John. Thanks for posting.