Recent Blog Posts

  • Ellis Island Cartoon

Genealogy Roundup, August 24

In this week's Roundup, get your funny bone tickled with an Ellis Island cartoon, explore a tattoo shop formerly frequented by medieval pilgrims (and still in the same business!), check out two family sagas you might enjoy reading, and more.

  • Sisters Reunited

Genealogy Roundup, August 10

This week: a heartwarming video about the trans-Atlantic reunion of sisters who never knew of each other (made possible by DNA, with a little help from Ancestry.com and British Airways), the man who named the Buffalo Bills, empty mansions, and more.

  • Tim Kaine ancestors

Tim Kaine Ancestral Samplings

I recently took a peek into the family tree of Tim Kaine in a piece that combined a big-picture perspective with a mini-saga of the Kaine branch. During the course of my research, though, I came across other random tidbits of interest, so thought I’d share them clustered by branch of the family tree.

  • Tim Kaine

What the Family Tree of Tim Kaine Has in Common with Downton Abbey

No sooner had Hillary Clinton announced Tim Kaine as her running mate than articles on his roots began to appear – mostly about his inherent Irishness. But what else was there to learn?

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.