Recent Blog Posts

  • Keck family Bible

Genealogy Roundup, April 26

In this week's Roundup: thanks to tireless efforts by many, an orphan heirloom Bible is returned to its original family; tintype photography featured in a Milwaukee Hotel; the world's oldest woman; and more.

  • Lost Wallet Returned

Genealogy Roundup, April 19

This week: In another orphan heirloom rescue, a wallet missing for 50 years is returned to the original owner's family; the story of our genes; UN files on the Holocaust to be opened and made searchable online, and much more!

  • World War I In Flanders Fields

Genealogy Roundup, April 12

In this week's Roundup: How WWI shaped the U.S. economically, socially and culturally; an 86-year-old woman visits the cabin she grew up in, now on display at the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, and reflects on what life was like as a youth; plus much more.

  • Westside Cemetery Preservation Association video

Seton Shields Genealogy Grant #199

This quarter, I awarded a grant to the Westside Cemetery Preservation Association to support their work of restoring and cleaning up the gravesites of enslaved African Americans and their descendants, found in cemeteries that have become overgrown and are largely hidden in secluded woods near sugar cane fields in West Baton Rouge Parish, Louisiana. Click through to the post for more details and to see how you can join me in supporting the work the WCPA is doing.

Megan Smolenyak2

Megan Smolenyak2 is a real life history detective who loves to solve mysteries. You might have spotted Megan or her handiwork on Top Chef, Who Do You Think You Are?, Finding Your Roots, Faces of America, Good Morning America, the Today Show, The Early Show, CNN, PBS and NPR.

Her news-making discoveries include uncovering Michelle Obama’s family tree, revealing the true story of Annie Moore, the first immigrant through Ellis Island, and tracing Barack Obama’s roots to Moneygall, Ireland. Formerly Chief Family Historian for Ancestry.com, she also founded Unclaimed Persons.

Megan is the author of 6 books, including Hey, America, Your Roots Are Showing and Who Do You Think You Are? (companion to the TV series), and conducts forensic research for the Army, BIA, coroners, NCIS and the FBI.

Hey, America, Your Roots Are Showing!

Featured

  • Annie Moore

125th Anniversary of Annie Moore and Ellis Island

January 10th, 2017|0 Comments

On January 1, 1892, 17-year-old Annie Moore from Cork, Ireland became the first immigrant to ever arrive at Ellis Island, so both Annie and Ellis Island celebrated their 125th anniversary on January 1, 2017. Now is an especially relevant time to reflect on the Annie Moores in our own family trees – those pioneers who made a leap that so drastically altered the trajectories of their descendants’ lives for the better.

  • Miranda family tree quote 2

Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Revolutionary Ancestors

June 27th, 2016|11 Comments

In climbing the branches of Lin-Manuel Miranda's family tree, I found myself following the trail of an early nineteenth century, interracial love story, peppered by war and rebellion, all interwoven with a decades-long struggle to outrun slavery that began in Virginia and ultimately unfolded under a handful of flags even though most of it occurred in one place – Nacogdoches.

  • Joe Biden and Megan Smolenyak

Joey From Scranton – Vice President Biden’s Irish Roots

June 14th, 2016|0 Comments

Given Vice President Biden's forthcoming trip to Ireland to explore his roots, I thought this would be a good time to re-share an article I'd previously written about his ancestry. Enjoy!

  • Sgt. (William) Henry Johnson

WWI Hero Sgt. Henry Johnson Receives Long Overdue Medal of Honor

June 8th, 2015|2 Comments

Almost a century after their service, Sgt. Henry Johnson* and Sgt. William Shemin were finally awarded the Medal of Honor at a White House ceremony for their heroics in World War I. As the genealogist who had the privilege of researching both of these Medal of Honor cases for the Army, I had the opportunity to seek out and steep myself in more than 1,300 pages of Sgt. Johnson's paper trail, so I'd like to clarify some misconceptions.