Recent Blog Posts

  • Journey of Dreamers

Genealogy Roundup, December 13

In this week's Roundup: The story of Annie Moore, first to arrive at Ellis Island, being told in dance in New Orleans.

  • Cool grandparents

Genealogy Roundup, December 6

In this week's Roundup: "There is a joy in receiving a letter in the post, a hidden gem: a piece of someone’s heart among the bills." Grandmas: riding on the wing of a bi-plane in flight and hanging out with Mercury-7 astronauts, plus lots of other cool grandparents; an orphan heirloom reunion, and lots more.

  • Heart-Shield Bible

Genealogy Roundup, November 29

In this week's Roundup: An orphan heirloom is returned to its family (did you know that in World War II there was such a thing as a Bible with a steel cover on it, meant to be worn in the left vest pocket as protection for the heart against bullets?). DNA testing makes the news again.

  • son finds German father killed in war

Genealogy Roundup, November 22

In this week's Roundup: an advice column on responding to secrets unearthed by DNA, families are reunited with fallen military members decades later, a unique and intriguing gift idea, and more...

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

  • Seton Shields at work

Celebrating 200 Seton Shields Genealogy Grants Awarded

June 27th, 2017|0 Comments

Ever wondered how I choose who to award grants to each quarter – what makes an application stand out to me or be eliminated? As a way of celebrating the milestone of 200 Seton Shields Genealogy Grants awarded, here's a behind-the-scenes peek into my grants program and the woman who continues to inspire my life and work. Enjoy!

  • 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|12 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!