Genealogy Roundup, October 27

If you've got some Norwegian ancestry, but have never been to Norway, you need to check out this TV show - "Amazing Race" meets "Who Do You Think You Are?"

Oldest Kentucky WWII vet dies at 107

An interesting peek at the behind-the-scenes process for "Who Do You Think You Are?" in Holstein, MO - and yes, the next season starts in January 2015, so you'll just have a small gap between "Finding Your Roots" and another dose of #WDYTYA!

The Happy Genealogy of Pharrell Williams

Genealogy Roundup, October 20

How Iceland's genealogy obsession leads to scientific breakthroughs.

Jerome woman reunites with siblings after 73 years.

Way back in 2008, when I traced then-candidate Obama's roots to the village of Moneygall in Ireland, I had no idea what that discovery would trigger. This article provides an update with both positive and negative perspectives.

114-year-old woman has to lie about age to join Facebook.

French soldier’s room unchanged 96 years after his death in First World War. Love that they've honored the request.

One of the better pieces I've read on genetic genealogy in a while - not a how-to, but rather, a real life experience.

I know you've been wondering . . .What the Statue Of Liberty would look like as a $300M condo.

August 2014 Seton Shields Genealogy Grant

The Genealogy & History Department of the Shelby County Public Library provides housing for documentation dating as far back as 1822 for Shelby County, Indiana and surrounding counties. Over 3,500 family and history folders contain invaluable information from Shelby County’s earliest organizations and settlers. The grant award will fund the purchase of a mobile scanner that will be used to help visitors preserve valuable family photos and documents, as well as to quickly share these with the library so more information can be added to the department's family files.

Genealogical Serendipity x 2

Those of you who are long-time genealogists might remember my first book, In Search of Our Ancestors, which was the companion to the PBS Ancestors series. This book is out of print (though I'm considering re-publishing it) and is a favorite of mine - not only because it was my first, but because it's a collection of 101 tales of genealogical serendipity.

Recently, I received a fun email that I just had to share, and the writer, Marcia Smyth, kindly granted permission. In Marcia's own words . . .

"Quite some time ago, I ordered online a used book titled "In Search of our Ancestors" by Megan Smolenyak. When it arrived at my home in California, I put it on the shelf with my other genealogy books. I finally pulled it off the shelf today and opened it. There is a tag on it, showing that it must have been donated to, and re-sold by, Deseret Industries. The name of the previous owner is inscribed on the title page ---- Katie Lamm ---- my cousin, who lives in Idaho.

The book's subtitle is "101 Inspiring Stories of Serendipity . . ." I would say that it was serendipitous for this particular book to find its way to me!"

When I replied to Marcia asking for her OK to post this, she added additional commentary revealing just how against-the-odds this was:

"I messaged Katie on Facebook yesterday.  She said she remembered enjoying the book and must have donated it during one of her moves. . . Katie and I have only seen each other once recently in about 40 years, since our cousins decided to have reunions of our generation."

Surely, this copy of ISOOA is exactly where it's supposed to be!

Genealogy Round Up, September 15

9 Foreign Words the English Language Desperately Needs

Earlier this week, I shared my first video in a long time - a very unexpected story I found hiding in the branches of the family tree of Pharrell Williams. For those who are a little old school and prefer to actually read(!), I've got an article about the sleuthing involved.

Fun to be bronze to Roberta Estes's silver in US results for John Reid's Rockstar Genealogist poll! We're in excellent company across the globe! Thanks to all who voted!


As if authors don't have enough to deal with given the changing landscape of the publishing industry, there's a new scam afoot. I went to Amazon last evening to check on something and was startled to learn that I had supposedly published a new book two days earlier. 

Someone has used Amazon Digital Services to publish a 37-page Kindle book with my name and part of the title of my actual "Who Do You Think You Are?" companion book. I don't know how this was permitted to happen since I have a long-established author's page at Amazon, but I'm currently using the copyright infringement process (there is no option to cover exactly this situation!) to lodge a complaint and have it removed. 

I've also posted a review to warn folks in the interim.

I count my lucky stars that I am literally the only person in the world with my name, and pity authors with common names who might have more difficulty proving that such a faux-book is an attempt to profit off of them. 

* sigh * If these scammers would use a fraction of their ingenuity doing something useful instead of ripping off hard-working writers, they might actually accomplish something!

Genealogy Round Up, September 8

Hey, y'all, I revised my main website - Any feedback??

Well, I'm pretty excited because this is my first new video in several years. It's about an unexpected tale I found in the family history of Pharrell Williams. If you enjoy it, I'd greatly appreciate it if you'd share it with others! Thanks!