Recent Blog Posts

  • Mount Vernon home of George Washington

Genealogy Roundup, May 25

This week, a look at the burial site of George Washington's grandma, some of the individual stories of unclaimed persons in New York City, keeping the memories of loved ones alive, and much, much more!

  • judy collins bps louis mss 2

Judy Collins and a Song for her Ancestors

A few years back, I did some research for Judy Collins about her roots and thought it might be interesting for folks to get a peek into that process and the song that it inspired.

  • Family Tree

Genealogy Roundup, May 18

This week's Roundup serves up a plethora of goodies, including a look at family trees through 3,000 years of history, news of a 70-year-old first-time mother in India, archives in the Villa le Corti spanning 600 years of one family's history, and more.

  • Capt Arthur Halfpapp

Genealogy Roundup, May 11

After his identity was confirmed through DNA analysis, a WWII pilot's remains were returned home to be laid to rest with full military honors.

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, 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!


  • 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.

  • Irish Catholic parish records

Indexes of Irish Catholic Parish Records Now Live

March 1st, 2016|0 Comments

Indexes of Irish Catholic parish records from the 1670-1900 time frame are now available at Ancestry and Findmypast.

  • Annie Moore of Ellis Island colorized

A Tribute to Annie Moore of Ellis Island

March 1st, 2016|0 Comments

To celebrate the beginning of Irish-American Heritage Month, I am sharing a photo of Annie Moore, the first immigrant to arrive at Ellis Island, along with her brothers Anthony (l) and Philip (r).

  • 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.