Megan Smolenyak – Home2018-09-22T17:20:32-04:00

Recent Blog Posts

Genealogy Roundup, August 5

In this week's Roundup: An orphan heirloom rescuer, a woman is reunited with her sister after more than 50 years, the story of Representative Val Demings' great-great-grandmother, and much more.

Genealogy Roundup, July 29

In this week's Roundup: Lots to warm the heart this week including two heirloom reunion stories and a 94-year-old still serving her country. Enjoy!

Genealogy Roundup, July 22

In this week's Roundup: A 1972 song that sounds (kind of) like English but is actually all nonsense, RIP John Lewis, the stuff genealogists trip across while researching, and more.

Genealogy Roundup, July 15

In this week's Roundup: A graphic novel about the heroic actions of Medal of Honor Recipient Henry Johnson, thoughts on cursive writing, some mindless escapism courtesy of Netflix, 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, 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!


  • Diane von Furstenburg and Statue of Liberty

Genealogy Roundup, May 15

May 15th, 2019|1 Comment

When asked what she wanted people to take away from a visit to the Statue of Liberty Museum, Diane von Furstenberg answered, "The importance of liberty and the importance of freedom. The museum is directly across from Ellis Island, so it’s also about the importance of welcoming people."

  • Flag presented to daughter of Capt. Lawrence Dickson at Arlington National Cemetery

Genealogy Roundup, April 3

April 3rd, 2019|0 Comments

Are you ready for some good news reading? You'll find an orphan heirloom rescue, a WWII veteran still going strong (and in the workforce, no less!) at 97, a Reclaim the Records victory, and last but far from least, photos from the memorial service for Capt. Lawrence E. Dickson in this week's Roundup. Enjoy!

  • 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!

  • 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.