Megan Smolenyak – Home2018-09-22T17:20:32+00:00

Recent Blog Posts

  • Scottish blackhouse Isle of Lewis

Genealogy Roundup, January 16

Does the idea of vacationing in a restored, historic coastal village in Scotland's Outer Hebrides pique your wanderlust? Check out this destination and assorted tidbits of genealogical lore in this week's Roundup.

  • SK3 Ralph Harry on Winner Take All 1952

Genealogy Roundup, January 9

How did a kind stranger's insomnia lead to siblings being given the chance to watch and listen to their father as a 22-year-old, months before he married and years before they were born? Find out this (and lots more!) in this week's Roundup.

  • Nina Lawrin loveren collections

Seton Shields Genealogy Grant #210: loveren collections

My third and final grant for Q4 2018 was awarded to loveren collections, an organization with the aim to reconnect people to the land and everyday perennial plants. The grant funds will assist with the purchase of books for research in European ancestral herbalism and ceremony (specifically from the Carpathian Mountains and Eastern Europe), which could be accessed as a free library source through the Permaculture Teaching Institute in Chicago.

  • Lost at Sea

Genealogy Roundup, January 2

How did 700 letters, penned during WWII, survive 77 years under water? And what happened when one of them was reunited with its intended recipient? Find out this – and more – in this week's Roundup!

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.