Saturday 5 February 2011

Follow Friday - Podcasts

About a year and a half ago, I succumbed to the lure of Apple, and bought an iPod Touch. My old MP3 player was past its best, and I didn't use it much because the battery kept losing the will to live. I downloaded the iTunes software and started loading up my music (Note to Apple - if you want to convert non-Apple users,  iTunes software isn't the way to do it. Of all the Apple products I have come across, this is the least appealing). I thought I would listen to lots of music again, but then I discovered podcasts.

It's not that I didn't know about them before, I've even recorded quite a few - you can find a long list of podcasts, including mine, on The National Archives site. But I hadn't taken much notice of them before, and I had only listened to the occasional podcast on a computer, rather than downloading them. OK, this is one thing that iTunes does do quite well, although it's not the only way to download or subscribe to them.

These are my two favourites, first The Genealogy Guys podcast 'the longest-running, regularly produced genealogy podcast in the world'. George Morgan and Drew Smith produce a mixture of news, opinion and answers to listeners' questions every month, with occasional interviews, and sometimes they record a whole Q & A session with an audience.

For British genealogy, there is an occasional series on BBC Scotland 'Digging up your roots' with resident genealogist Dr Bruce Durie, Course Director, Genealogical Studies, at the University of Strathclyde.

But these are just two from about 50 podcasts that I subscribe to. Having acquired a taste for the medium, I wondered what else was on offer, and goodness, there's a lot! I subscribe to the podcast versions of BBC radio shows although not all 282 of them! Other radio and TV stations have their own selections, as do a number of newspapers. The obvious category to look for is history, but there are all kinds of other options - it's a good way of learning or practising a language that your ancestors spoke, but you don't. I have found some interesting city guides produced by my newspaper of choice The Guardian, which also has a weekly technology podcast, some of which I understand!

I have tried not to make this a commercial for iTunes, but it has a useful feature that shows you similar kinds of podcasts to any that you download, along the lines of 'If you liked this, you might also enjoy...' It also has a separate area called iTunes U, where you can download university lectures, and even whole courses. I have found some great stuff here, and have used it to fill the gaps in my historical knowledge. I particularly enjoy BackStory with the American History Guys, who have just produced a feature on the history of the American census, and the University of Warwick's Georgian Britain

There is a whole lot more out there to be discovered, and I haven't even begun to look at videocasts yet. They wouldn't be such a good idea while I'm driving, though!



  1. Have you listened to BBC Radio 4's "Tracing your roots" podcast?

  2. Yes, I subscribe to that one too, but I didn't mention it because there isn't series running at the moment.

  3. There is Lisa Louise Cooke's Genealogy Gems (although mostly American-orientated, often have stuff that is more general) and Family History Made Easy. I have searched for a similar British one, but apart from the 2 BBC radio shows and TNA, it's a desert out there. for real quirky-ness, I love the Shiloh Museum of Ozark history too.