Recent Blog Posts

  • Hillary Clinton

Hillary Clinton’s Celtic Roots

When it was announced that Hillary Rodham Clinton would be inducted into the Irish America Hall of Fame in 2015 for her work on the Irish peace process, it was inevitable that I would explore the branches of her family tree, but it wasn’t the first time. Having delved into her roots in years past, I was familiar with the basics, but when I took a deeper dive into the Welsh portion of her heritage, I discovered that it’s rather surprising that Hillary Rodham Clinton exists at all.

  • Honeymoon on Battlefields of WWII

Genealogy Roundup, July 27

This week's Roundup brings us pictures from a unique and memorable honeymoon, a matching grant challenge to preserve WWI memorials, and an interview with Australian comedian, Nick Cody.

  • baby

Genealogy Roundup, July 20

In this week's Roundup, read about a 90-year-old man who's digitized over a million records at FamilySearch -- what a great help to people looking to explore their family history! Also this week, explore an island with a dark past, check out the new Ellis Island artwork gracing a building in Tribeca, find out the "latest" in baby names, and more.

  • Melissa McCarthy

5 Things You Didn’t Know about Melissa McCarthy’s Family Tree

Easily one of the most popular and reliable box office performers today, actress, comedian, producer, and now fashion designer Melissa McCarthy has a lot to be proud of. Following a string of hits, she’s now part of the long-anticipated Ghostbusters dream team of Leslie Jones, Kate McKinnon, and Kristen Wiig. While they’re all ghostbusting, I thought I’d do a little ghost-searching – that is, for the ancestors who populate McCarthy’s family tree – and here’s what I learned.

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

  • Miranda family tree quote 2

Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Revolutionary Ancestors

June 27th, 2016|10 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!

  • no girls allowed

When It Comes to Genetic Genealogy, Women Need Not Apply

May 5th, 2016|0 Comments

Television producers frequently reach out to pick my brains about forthcoming shows, and I generally do my best to help because I have a conspicuous bias: I’d like to see as much genealogy on air as possible. But yesterday I received an inquiry that made me check the calendar to be sure it was 2016.

  • 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.