Our Homes & Their Histories

Jul 7, 2017

When novelist Ella Joy Olsen set out to write her first book, she wanted a topic close to home. And what could be more tangible than the walls surrounding her? Olsen’s first book is an imagined genealogy of her house, exploring the lives of five women who occupied the same space over a century. We’re using Olsen’s work as a jumping off point to talk about how the history of our houses effects the way we live in them today. (Rebroadcast)


  • Ella Joy Olsen is a novelist based in Salt Lake City. Her first book is called Root, Petal, Thorn [Independent bookstores|Amazon] and her new book Where the Sweet Bird Sings is due out in August.
  • Bim Oliver is a consultant specializing in historic preservation and economic development. He's the author of South Temple Street Landmarks: Salt Lake City's First Historic District. [Independent bookstores|Amazon]
  • Susan Matt is chair of the history department at Weber State University and the author of Homesickness: An American History. [Independent bookstores|Amazon].
    Listen to Doug's conversation with Matt about homesickness.

Want to research your own home? Check out this how-to guide from the Utah Division of State History. Here are 10 more hints from the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

Other Resources:

  • Margaret Lester, Brigham Street [Amazon]
  • For a non-fiction history of a brownstone in New York City, check out Katharine Greider's The Archaeology of Home: An Epic Set on a Thousand Square Feet of the Lower East Side [Independent bookstores|Amazon]
  • Check out the Deliberately Concealed Garments Project for a look at objects embedded in home walls - a history that goes back to the Middle Ages.