Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. grabbed the PBS spotlight with his 2012 genealogy show, Finding Your Roots. By Jon Irons [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Without reality TV shows or fancy websites, Molly found a way to learn about her family’s history.
Today, she might have a future working in the field.
California Governor Earl Warren posed with a boy dressed as a gold prospector for the state’s 1950 centennial celebration. By California Centennials Commission [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Molly’s ancestors were part of the California Gold Rush, considered by many to have lasted from 1846-49.
However, other accounts indicate that the desire to discover gold has never ended.
From newspaper serialized fiction to literary stardom: Charles Dickens See page for author [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
The predecessor to Fire in the Heart is West Against the Wind, which began as serialized fiction.
My great-grandfather, Reuben Ketchum, wrote serial stories for newspapers in the 19th century.
For others, like Charles Dickens, serialized fiction was the springboard to literary stardom.
A once-buried treasure! By User SilkTork on en.wikipedia [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Molly’s mother believed that one ancestor had buried a gold nugget somewhere in California.
Those treasures are still being found.
Rufus Wilmot Griswold By Uncredited [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Griswold, the town in Fire in the Heart, was named for my early Vermont ancestors.
One Griswold who began life in Vermont became a controversial literary figure and rival to famed author Edgar Allan Poe.
Could you imagine your favorite book’s locale on a globe? Christian Fischer [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
The setting for Fire in the Heart, Griswold, is a fictional Vermont town. I invented it all, down to a map of the community. Here are more pseudo-places existing only in books.
Before the world knew him as author Mark Twain, young Samuel Clemens posed for this 1850 daguerreotype. By Mark_Twain_by_GH_Jones,_1850.jpg: G.H.[?] Jones [or Jonco?] / Hannibal Mo derivative work: Smalljim (Mark_Twain_by_GH_Jones,_1850.jpg) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Molly gets a clue about her family’s past through a daguerreotype.
Far from a simple snapshot, these photographic relics are being kept alive by a small group of devotees.
Dr. Florence Bascom helped train the majority of female geologists in America during the early 20th century. By Smithsonian Institution from United States (Florence Bascom (1862-1945) [see page for license], via Wikimedia Commons
In Fire in the Heart, Molly’s mother worked as a geologist.
Life has gotten easier since then for women pursuing geoscience careers. Here’s one perspective: