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Honoring Our Ancestors
May 22, 2019


Greetings Fellow Family History Sleuths,

My head is still spinning from attending the opening of the Statue of Liberty Museum (more on this in the next issue), but for now, I'll just say, if you should find yourself in New York City, please visit. It will be worth your while.

Also, thanks to the amazing folks of The Morning Forum in Los Altos, CA! Yours was one of my favorite speaking experiences ever, and I'm delighted and grateful to have had the opportunity to join you.

So what will you find in this month's issue? Well, a tribute to my dad for his service in Vietnam and some pearls of wisdom from my mom, some military identifications, and several pieces about the Statue of Liberty Museum prior to its opening. And a fun interview with Janine Adams of Organize Your Family History. You'll find it with the April 17th links. Thanks, Janine! And thanks to my fellow genies!

Until next time, keep on sleuthing!



A Memorial Day Tribute to Dad for his Service in Vietnam

My dad is the understated, modest type who’s reluctant to talk about his service in Vietnam. In fact, he will likely be irritated with me when he sees this, but after years of writing assorted Memorial and Veterans Day tributes about others, it occurred to me that I had never extended this simple courtesy to my own father. And candidly speaking, as one who was just old enough to recall crossing days off the calendar, my parents’ R&R reunion in Hawaii (we all went through a Don Ho phase after that - Tiny Bubbles and One Paddle, Two Paddle, anyone?), and going to Newark Airport in pajamas to greet Dad upon his return, I also remember how my father’s service was - well, less than appreciated at the time.

My family was very fortunate in that Dad came home, so technically, I should wait for Veterans Day for this small tribute, but I hope you’ll forgive my impatience as I take this opportunity to show in pictures a slightly different perspective of the Vietnam War through some of the tour-of-duty photos of a gentleman who is now Col. George C. Smolenyak, U.S. Army, retired - the man I’m lucky enough to call Dad.

In his honor, I’d be grateful if you’d thank a veteran for his or her service - this Memorial Day, next Veterans Day, or whenever the chance arises.

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Seton Shields Genealogy Grants

When some people hear about my Seton Shields Genealogy Grant program, they ask who Seton Shields is. She was my mother, and I shared the image above just before the 10th anniversary of the day we lost her. I hope these little life lessons she left me with will give you at least a hint of the kind of person she was. Very fortunate to have been her daughter.

I'll be considering applications for my next genealogy grant before long, so here's a reminder to get yours in if you've been intending to. Submissions remain active candidates for six months from the date I receive them.

You can apply for a Seton Shields grant here. Don't miss checking out the cool projects I've had the opportunity to contribute to over the years, plus an article that will give you a behind-the-scenes peek into my grants program (and might help you increase your odds of being selected when you apply)!

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Genealogy Round Up, May 15

Photo Credit: Alexi Lubomirski

Diane von Furstenberg Talks Bringing the New Statue of Liberty Museum to Life

Statue of Liberty Museum Founders – Early crowd-funding for the best possible reason

A new museum for Lady Liberty

Our national memory is endangered – "America is losing its memory. The National Archives and Records Administration is in a budget crisis. More than a resource for historians or museum of founding documents, NARA stands at the heart of American democracy."

Ant and Dec go for helicopter ride around New York City while filming new family history TV show – One-off genealogy show coming to UK.

On Mother's Day, gratitude for image, memory thought not to exist – Love this!

Donn Devine, lawyer, civil rights marcher, city planner, co-writer of state song, dies at 90 – And even this doesn't tell the half of it. RIP, Donn Devine.

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Genealogy Round Up, May 8

Photo Credit: Beverly & Pack

Korean War hero who died a POW finally laid to rest in New Jersey – I've posted about this soldier before, but thought I'd share this piece about his memorial. Welcome home, Sgt. Frank Suliman. Honored to have researched your family.

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Genealogy Round Up, May 1

Photo Credit: Tehama County Public Guardian

The Mystery of the Millionaire Hermit – Fascinating peek behind the scenes for folks not familiar with heir searching. Reminds me a lot of unclaimed persons research. And yes, there are many families like this.

Soldier Accounted For From Korean War (Geary, S.) – Another case I handled quite a while ago - this time, 2008. Welcome home, PFC Sterling Geary. Honored to have researched your family.

Grynoriai: Lithuanian-American life in the early 20th century – Where my Lithuanians at?

A symbol of slavery — and survival

Learning My Father’s Language – OK, I'm intrigued.

How Technology Could Revolutionize Refugee Resettlement – I love that this was named after Ellis Island’s Annie Moore.

VIDEO: Arsonist lights fire outside National Archives – What makes someone try to set NARA on fire?

Very cool to get a shout-out from Julián Castro in New Yorker. He's got a great memory. Only change is that this former NJ genealogist is now in FL. Here's the article he recalls.

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Genealogy Round Up, April 17

Photo Credit: Hong Chang Bum

A Researcher Needed Three Hours to Identify Me From My DNA – There are several variables that made this an easier case than most, but this piece does a good job of demonstrating the genetic genealogy sleuthing process.

Korean War POW Will Finally Be Buried in Arlington National Cemetery – This soldier's case was so complicated that I remember it well even though I did it back in 2003. Welcome home, 1st Lt. Herman Louis Falk.

How They Do It: Megan Smolenyak – So Organize Your Family History picked my brain about a few things (thanks, Janine!). Check out what I did with my dad's slides!

Sean Kirst: After 75 years, lost airman who longed for Buffalo comes home – This wasn't my case, but I was happy to track down the family of his fiance. Better yet, they were delighted to be found!

The Statue of Liberty Museum set to open with original torch, 'soaring' theater space

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Upcoming Events

After traveling around and speaking in 40 states and half a dozen countries, I decided to take a breather from the road to tend to some projects. That said, I'm sharing exceptions here. And by the way, you can see if I’ll be in your area any time by checking my Events Calendar.

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