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What Genealogy And A 'Boring Hobby' Can Teach Us About Ourselves

Talk of Iowa, hosted by Charity Nebbe

In her new book, a writer explores her family and its connection with distant Vikings and how that connects to the present. Then, how an engineer and fire eater reconciles seemingly disparate skills

At no other point in history have we had more tools for digging into our personal histories. Census data, Match.com and the revelation found in a vial of saliva. With these tools, writer Lori Erickson went about filling in the twigs and leaves of her own branching family tree.

On this episode of Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe speaks with Erickson about her new book "The Soul of the Family Tree" and how she came from seafaring Viking ships to her picturesque hometown.

Later in the show, Nebbe talks to April Jennifer Choi about her work as an engineer and a performer and how those came to inform one another. She talks about a viral video of her and her wife lighting their wedding dresses ablaze, an exciting stunt for their wedding ceremony, as well as the comparatively more dangerous reality of being openly LGBTQ in America.


  • Lori Erickson, writer of "The Soul of the Family Tree: Ancestors, Stories and the Spirits We Inherit"
  • April Jennifer Choi, a whip artist, fire eater and engineering department manager at Kennedy Space Center
Charity Nebbe is the host of IPR's Talk of Iowa
Zachary Oren Smith is a reporter covering Eastern Iowa