Post copyright 2015 by Doris McCraw

I confess, but then you already know, I love research. If something catches my eye or ear, I want to follow up, know all I can. This, I believe keeps me young and involved with life. (I must be doing something correct. I met an acquaintance who hadn’t seen me for a while. Her comment, “You are the only person who looks younger everytime I see you.”)

It is common knowledge I research early Colorado women doctors. Their stories need to be told. But in addition to their personal stories, there is a need to place them in the context of the time they lived. The stories of the life around them.


In my novella “Home for His Heart” Sam was a child soldier in the Civil War. In order to understand the world he lived in, it was important I research child soldiers. Yes, there were young boys (and women) who served in the Civil War. Most were in the drum and fife corps.Their jobs were to signal the soldiers during battles, among other duties. For more information about these child soldiers, here is a link. The thought of the time, no one would harm the children. That turned out to be a dream.

Early Colorado Territorial Prison Building

In two current works that are in edits, it required research on the Colorado Prison System of the 1870’s, and Pueblo, Colorado from the same time period. There was some overlap, but each story required its own special research. To bring the characters and their stories to life, I try to walk the ground they would walk, whenever possible. This might mean a trip to an area I haven’t been before. Finding the stories of the region, learning what was happening. Yes, my characters are fictional, but their lives are based on facts, on truths, on real happenings.

Area near Pikes Peak

So as I continue to write both fiction and non-fiction, it is important that I immerse myself in the worlds I am writing about. This may mean trips to remote cemeteries to read the headstones of the people in that area. Reading old newspapers, taking the stories there and creating my fictional words from those words. The newspapers are also goldmines for the non-fiction. These are the worlds the doctors lived in. Even though train travel was fairly popular in the early 1870’s, the use of horses still was a major mode of travel. This along with the status of medical discoveries, plays a big role in the lives of the women doctors.

So if I seem a bit distracted at times, just know I’m immersed in some wonderful research. I promise to come up for air, and maybe share some of the stories. In the meantime, here’s to creating the stories we all were meant to share.

home for his heart angela raines

also available as an ebook on Barnes & Noble and Smashwords.

Doris Gardner-McCraw/Angela Raines
Author, Speaker, Historian-specializing in
Colorado and Women’s History

Author Page:
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14 thoughts on “IMMERSION RESEARCH

  1. Doris, love that you have the chance to vosit the areas you write about. As soon as I get caught up a bit I’ll be reading your book. It will be a fun read fir the beach. Cher’ley


    1. Oh Mike, that sounds like it will be a great story. There are so many ‘small’ stories that have gotten lost in the big pictures of that conflict. We had one speaker at the history group I belong to whose great grandfather had been in the fife and drum corps. The interesting thing was, the man brought the original fife the man had played. He had written a book, which I wish I had bought now. Doris


  2. As usual, Doris, you enlighten us with your research and passion! I interviewed a man this afternoon to share his life story, especially his role during the Vietnam war; I am helping a publication tell the stories of Wyoming Vietnam veterans. Then, later this afternoon, I interviewed a woman who re-enacts as an emigrant woman. She is part of a group participating in the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Platte Bridge, at which Caspar Collins, for whom our community is named, died. There is to be a 3-day event at Fort Caspar in July, and I’m thinking you will find this interesting, maybe interesting enough to pay my community a visit??!! Check it out:


    1. Oh Gayle, this sounds so fascinating. Don’t you just love to hear the stories of those who came before, did things we only read about? What a great event this looks to be and thank you for finding and telling the stories we don’t want to lose. Doris


  3. You are right about the civil war having so many small stories to tell. My great grandfather entered as a teenager, lying about his age, mustered out and wanted to re-enter so bought the name of another man and enlisted again. He kept the second name forever changing the family name of my grandmother and descendents. A questing mind does keep us young!


    1. Neva, What a fascinating story ahout your great grandfather. I have a distant relative who took the name of the people he was staying with, so that family name was also changed. Oh the stories.

      It is good to stay young. Doris


  4. Great post, Doris! That comment about the thought no one would hurt the children being a dream–wow…. It makes sense that your research keeps you young, since it is what you love. 🙂


    1. Thanks Stephanie, I know some folks have researched the child soldier in the Civil War, but I know there has to be more. Oh those ‘rabbit holes’, so many to take a trip down, so few hours to spend there.

      Yes, I do love it. Thanks for the continued support. Doris


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