tag:megansmolenyak.posthaven.com,2013:/posts Megan Smolenyak Smolenyak's Roots World 2018-02-17T06:32:14Z Megan Smolenyak Smolenyak tag:megansmolenyak.posthaven.com,2013:Post/837800 2015-04-08T15:37:34Z 2018-02-17T06:32:14Z Genealogy Roundup, April 8
‘Gertie’s Babies,’ Sold at Birth, Use DNA to Unlock Secret Past

11 Little-Known Words for Specific Family Members – Some great words here - let's start using them!

The Gift of #ThrowbackThursday – "As a genealogist, I'm so focused on the dearly departed that I often neglect the living, but I recently got a serious reminder that those of us above ground matter, too."

10 Things You Didn't Know About Jon Hamm's Roots – Since Mad Men is starting its final half-season this Sunday, this seems a good time to share this.

1,000 Irish died with American army in WWI – This took A LOT of analysis and number-crunching. Will be of interest to those with Irish roots and/or into military history.

Hillary Clinton Family Tree a Wake-Up Call for Genealogy – "Are the names adorning your family tree really your ancestors or just crowd-sourced fiction?" BTW, for those curious about the Hillary Clinton research behind my think-before-you-merge-online-trees warning, you'll find it on pages 50-52 of Irish America Magazine. Can't recommend this magazine highly enough, especially for those of Irish heritage!

Army corporal, captured in Korean War, to be buried in hometown – RIP, CPL Higgins. One of my Korean War soldiers will be buried this weekend.

Illinois Ancestors: Genealogist offers grants for worthy projects – Article by Joan Griffis about my grants program and a recent interview re: genealogy I did with National Geographic.

Megan Smolenyak Smolenyak
tag:megansmolenyak.posthaven.com,2013:Post/834311 2015-04-01T17:45:54Z 2018-02-17T06:32:14Z Genealogy Roundup, April 1
War Numbers: Counting the Irish-Born Dead in WWI – I did some number-crunching on the Irish-born soldiers from America who died in WWI. Companion article profiles individuals soldiers who served from NJ.

Genealogy was on Hot In Cleveland last week! If you'd like to find out more about Betty White's real Greek-Danish-Canadian-Welsh-English roots, have a look here.

EXCLUSIVE VIDEO: Sean Hayes Discovers Family's Criminal Past

Lou Szucs: Genealogical Hero
Megan Smolenyak Smolenyak
tag:megansmolenyak.posthaven.com,2013:Post/830162 2015-03-25T13:57:44Z 2018-02-17T06:32:14Z Genealogy Roundup, March 25

Boy finds 45-year-old love letter in bottle addressed to his grandpa – Serendipity trikes again!

EXCLUSIVE VIDEO: Angie Harmon Understands the Power of Walking in Your Ancestors Footsteps – Check out my "Genealogy on TV" Pinterest board if you'd like to see more photos of Angie Harmon on this week's episode of "Who Do You Think You Are?"

Bruce Springsteen accepts Ellis Island award with his mother & aunts – My video of Bruce Springsteen at Ellis Island with his mother and aunts just crossed 10,000 views! Thanks, y'all! If you haven't watched it, you might want to because it's charming. Sweet family.

Naturalization ceremony for my sister Stacy (left with my mom) and me (right with my dad):

Megan Smolenyak Smolenyak
tag:megansmolenyak.posthaven.com,2013:Post/826429 2015-03-18T15:36:23Z 2018-02-17T06:32:14Z Genealogy Roundup, March 18

AT&T employee uncovers lost pictures more than a century old

Irish Famine Summer School will be the first of its kind

VIDEO: Surging interest in Irish genealogy from abroad

Exclusive Video: Josh Groban Discovering Remarkable and Controversial Ancestor

Following her dream--- American moving to Ireland at 53 – Love this! I could be tempted!

Megan Smolenyak Smolenyak
tag:megansmolenyak.posthaven.com,2013:Post/822686 2015-03-11T14:31:52Z 2018-02-17T06:32:14Z Genealogy Roundup, March 11

Genealogy to premiere ‘Don't Deny’ on March 12 on Armenia’s public TV and on eurovision.tv – "Generations are shifting with time but the genealogy remains. . . "

Keep Calm and Apply for a Genealogy Grant – May 2015 will be the 15th anniversary of my genealogy grants program. Initially called Honoring Our Ancestors, I did just that when I renamed it after my mother - Seton Shields - several years ago. To apply for a Seton Shields grant, fill out and submit the form here. You can see examples of past grant awards here. And you might also enjoy the peek behind the scenes that I share here.]]>
Megan Smolenyak Smolenyak
tag:megansmolenyak.posthaven.com,2013:Post/821789 2015-03-09T20:23:23Z 2018-02-17T06:32:14Z 15 Years of Genealogy Grants

May 2015 will be the 15th anniversary of my genealogy grants program. Initially called Honoring Our Ancestors, I did just that when I renamed it after my mother - Seton Shields - several years ago.

So 182 grants later, I was debating what to do to mark this milestone, and finally decided to give a peek behind the scenes by sharing some of the thank you notes I've received over the years. This will help give a sense of the variety of both recipients and objectives.

I'm not going in any sort of logical order. Instead, I've just opted to post a random thank you note whenever the mood strikes, and will continue to do so at least until the May 2015 grant.

First up is Yamhill County Genealogical Society from Oregon. Way back in May 2005 on the 5th anniversary, I gave five grants to mark that milestone, and YCGS was one of them!

Megan Smolenyak Smolenyak
tag:megansmolenyak.posthaven.com,2013:Post/818782 2015-03-04T15:17:15Z 2018-02-17T06:32:14Z Genealogy Roundup, March 4

Irish family from Galway the longest living group of siblings in the world – 5 over 100 and one more almost there . . .

Who Do You Think You Are? Returns with 8 New Celebrity Family Tree Searches on TLC – Not long now . . .‪ ‬ If you want to start getting warmed up for the first episode on March 8th, why not spending a couple of minutes poking around my Celebrity Roots board on Pinterest?

10 Things You Didn't Know About Jon Hamm's Roots

Genealogy 101: Discover Your Roots – Did not know this was out there until someone emailed me about it!

Chromosome pillows playfully represent "his and hers" DNA with pink felt applique for the XX chromosome and blue for the XY chromosome – For all my genetic genealogy peeps, you know you need this!

Family Photos From Ukraine — 'My Sisters' – Can really relate to this since I have roots just north of L'viv. Her family was much better off than mine, but I love that she's part Rusyn!

Megan Smolenyak Smolenyak
tag:megansmolenyak.posthaven.com,2013:Post/815439 2015-02-25T15:14:40Z 2018-02-17T06:32:13Z Genealogy Roundup, February 25

Building a Face, and a Case, on DNA – Those of us who have been involved in genetic genealogy will probably experience a touch of deja vu with this, but I'm sure this will provoke a lot of strong reactions.

Kindred Voices: Listening for Our Ancestors by Geoff Rasmussen – Got to read an advance copy and strongly recommend this book. You know you want to hear some tales of genealogical serendipity!

Melvina's Descendants, Michelle Obama's Cousins

Megan Smolenyak Smolenyak
tag:megansmolenyak.posthaven.com,2013:Post/814529 2015-02-23T18:57:08Z 2018-02-17T06:32:14Z February 2015 Seton Shields Genealogy Grant
Caleb Pomeroy will be taking some time to visit his ancestral home in Devon to interview locals, visit archives, and possibly pursue DNA testing. His goal is to contribute to the creation of a comprehensive family tree, by tracing lineage after the sale of the Berry Pomeroy Castle to the Seymour family in 1549, including tracking travels of the family from England to the New World. He'd also like to substantiate more of the castle's history, such as claims that it was one of the last constructed in the old feudal style, as well as to learn more about how the sale of the castle to the Seymour family was conducted. The grant will help to pay for fees associated with this trip.

To apply for a Seton Shields grant, fill out and submit the form here. You can see examples of past grant awards here.]]>
Megan Smolenyak Smolenyak
tag:megansmolenyak.posthaven.com,2013:Post/812993 2015-02-18T15:08:26Z 2018-02-17T06:32:13Z Genealogy Roundup, February 18

Happy 113th birthday to the longest living person in Ireland's history – An interesting woman I researched last year just had another birthday!

Armenia to be represented by Genealogy – Genealogy meets music for Armenia in Eurovision Song Contest! Cool way to reunite the diaspora.

Everything you ever wanted to know about Stephen Colbert’s 94% Irish roots

Adopted woman discovers her grandfather was Nat King Cole – Well, this granddaughter got a better surprise when looking into her roots than the one I shared last week.

So Kim & Kanye thought they were being original when they named their daughter North? So very 1886. In fact, there are 208 people in the SSDI of this name and the vast majority were born in the 1800s and early 1900s.]]>
Megan Smolenyak Smolenyak
tag:megansmolenyak.posthaven.com,2013:Post/810152 2015-02-11T15:35:29Z 2015-02-11T15:35:29Z Genealogy Roundup, February 11
Brothers' Amazing Reunion After Nearly 60 Years

African-American genealogy: Researchers share stories of joy, fulfillment – "I love what I do."

SiriusXM Launching ‘African Ancestry Radio'; Louis Gossett Jr., others to guest star

I am Italian-American. The debate over "who is us" has grown more heated.

Strange Inheritance on Fox Business – I've only watched one episode, but this show is slightly genealogical and has potential.

President pays stealth visit to The Dalles, Hood River – Oddly, I have roots in The Dalles as well. BTW, they mean Tony Goldwyn, not the real President.

Journeys Home – Delighted to share some genealogy tips in this cool, new National Geographic book about roots journeys along with my good friend, Lou Szucs! My friend, Marion Hager, at Hager's Journeys also shares her wisdom!

Megan Smolenyak Smolenyak
tag:megansmolenyak.posthaven.com,2013:Post/809824 2015-02-10T20:38:58Z 2015-02-10T20:38:58Z January 2015 Seton Shields Genealogy Grant

Crystal Medler Rojas Mora of Kenmore, WA has spent the past six years researching the life of her maternal second great-grandmother, Lucretia Berry Porter Cowan, who, after her move from Maine to Seattle with her two young children in 1912 eventually gained a reputation as one of the best photographers in Seattle. Crystal is planning to write a biography of her ancestor and will be making a research trip to Maine, where she will visit a number of libraries, archives, and historical societies. The grant will help to pay for fees associated with this trip.

Megan Smolenyak Smolenyak
tag:megansmolenyak.posthaven.com,2013:Post/806985 2015-02-04T18:00:36Z 2015-02-09T05:50:56Z Genealogy Roundup, February 4 I've done a lot of African American genealogy over the years, so for Black History Month, I decided to put together a collage of photos of some of the people I've been fortunate enough to research and meet.

Friends and countrymen, lend me your (jug) ears...

10 Things You Didn't Know About Katy Perry's Family Tree – Something to ponder about one of the stars of the Super Bowl XLIX halftime show

UK to Decide If It's OK to Make Babies From DNA of 3 People – Genealogy might be about to get harder.

Megan Smolenyak Smolenyak
tag:megansmolenyak.posthaven.com,2013:Post/806000 2015-02-02T19:47:12Z 2015-02-02T20:16:26Z December 2014 Seton Shields Genealogy Grant
The Simpsonville Genealogical Research Room is a small, independent genealogical research library currently located in the Senior and Activity Center of Simpsonville, SC. The room consists of several shelves of local history books and research guides, as well as a computer, all to help beginner and advanced genealogists in finding their Simpsonville roots. Much of the initiative to establish the library came from a young man in the community named Andrew Staton. The grant will assist with the cost of applying for 501c3 federal tax exempt status.

Megan Smolenyak Smolenyak
tag:megansmolenyak.posthaven.com,2013:Post/803765 2015-01-28T15:02:51Z 2015-02-15T19:48:37Z Genealogy Roundup, January 28
I love you: Holocaust survivor salutes American soldier who saved him. – Love that they were able to meet again. Remarkable.

Elderly man finds son after discovering letter hidden by deceased wife for decades. – Imagine finding this letter!

Fatherland comics review – Family history in comic/graphic novel form. Looks interesting!

Stephen Colbert: One Last Report (It's Genealogical) | Irish America – Better late than never? I researched Stephen Colbert's roots back around 2006/2007, and am finally getting around to writing about it! Here's an article that's just coming out in the latest issue of Irish America Magazine (and BTW, if you're part Irish, you really should consider subscribing to this magazine - whether in print or for your tablet!).

Dartmouth Alumni Columnist, at 100 Years Old, Is Still Looking for New Stories – A really interesting read - inspiring, but realistic. Anyone who's done a family newsletter will relate.

Heirloom Homecomings: Rescuing other people’s heirlooms brings out the hero in family historians. – Delighted to have been interviewed by Sunny Jane Morton for an orphan heirlooms article in current issue of Family Tree Magazine - pages 8-9! P.S. Please considering subscribing. I get it on my ipad.]]>
Megan Smolenyak Smolenyak
tag:megansmolenyak.posthaven.com,2013:Post/799244 2015-01-21T15:16:40Z 2015-01-21T15:16:40Z Genealogy Roundup, January 21 "Arranging Family:" First Solo Exhibit by Carlee Fernandez. Photographer and sculptor Carlee Fernandez uses the central theme of family - and how the past intersects with the present and gives hope for the future. – Love this baptismal cup!

On Meet the Press: Finding History in Everyday Places – Great video about Andrew Carroll and his book, "Here Is Where" about the hidden history all around us.

Husband finds wedding ring lost 64 years ago.
Megan Smolenyak Smolenyak
tag:megansmolenyak.posthaven.com,2013:Post/795934 2015-01-14T16:43:21Z 2015-01-14T16:43:22Z Genealogy Roundup, January 14
These 5 women are the last living people born in 1800s – OK, I haven't verified this, but I'm guessing it's at least mostly right and I found it really interesting to see them . . .

National Archives Sleepover Giveaway – Might have to borrow some kids to enter this contest!

Hmmm . . . could Josh Groban have been exploring his German roots for "Who Do You Think You Are?" Get acquainted with his family tree here.

Melissa Etheridge est Quebecoise? She's clearly loving every minute of her "Who Do You Think You Are?" experience in Quebec.

Professor finds long-lost home movies playing at NYC museum – Imagine strolling into a museum and seeing your home movies playing!

Megan Smolenyak Smolenyak
tag:megansmolenyak.posthaven.com,2013:Post/795331 2015-01-13T17:24:08Z 2015-01-13T20:30:25Z Historical Accuracy as Prison?

Bilge Ebiri opens his article, "Oscar Films and the Prison of Historical Accuracy," saying, "You know it’s Oscar season when the historical-accuracy hit squads show up." The genealogist in me bristles.

But read it all, I tell myself, and I do. And as I continue, I can't help but concede some of his points. After all, these are movies, not documentaries, and don't the director, producers, and screenwriters have the right to take some liberties in order to craft and deliver the best possible story?

As a genealogist, I'm borderline obsessed with the truth, but then, I'm a writer as well, and three of my books have been collections of stories, so I can appreciate the importance of storytelling. Frankly, good storytelling is all that makes history palatable to many.

I found myself being persuaded to his point of view until I got to the part where he wrote of The Imitation Game. This film about Alan Turing is on my to-see list and I was excited to learn more about this tragic genius - and still am. But it wasn't until reading Ebiri's article that I learned about the Poles who had begun cracking the Enigma code years earlier.

Ashamed of my own ignorance, I realized that this is my true gripe with liberties taken in historical films - for the vast majority of the people who watch, the movie will be the only version of events that they'll ever know. It will become their truth, their reality. 

I understand that I'm a relic, feebly shaking her fist at the sky, insisting that historical accuracy does indeed matter. But then I think of Annie Moore, the first immigrant to arrive at Ellis Island, and how her story had been hijacked and later corrected, and I realize that small victories are possible. And though I genuinely believe the truth is usually fascinating in its own right, it's next to useless if no one knows about it, so some compromise with movie embellishment is in order. 

I suspect that in the battle between story and accuracy, story will almost always win, but at least these slices of history will be out there, and the almost inevitable debates about the veracity of this or that aspect of this or that movie will themselves lead to greater understanding. So while I'll instinctively continue to at least clench my fist, I'll console myself with the historical awareness that films generate.

Even so, with all due respect to Alan Turing, I'd be very grateful if someone would make a film about Marian Rejewski.

Megan Smolenyak Smolenyak
tag:megansmolenyak.posthaven.com,2013:Post/794970 2015-01-12T21:45:04Z 2015-01-15T15:39:14Z Abandoned Home, Lost Photos, and Found Money

Ah, this one kills me. It's a happy story in a sense - honest urban explorer returns money to family. But the photos - the photos! They protect the identity of the family in the article, but I can see from the photos that they are Slavic, and given that the money was American and Canadian, I'm guessing the vicinity of Detroit. And as someone with Slavic cousins who were drawn to Detroit for the auto industry, back when it was the Silicon Valley of its time, I could all too easily see this happening to my own family. That said, the place is a time capsule, the family now knows (and has presumably taken at least the photos home), and there's the kindness of strangers aspect. So all in all, a happy tale, but still tugging at the heart, you know?

Here's MESSYNESSYchic, where I first read about this:

The Abandoned House of Money and the Honorable Urban Explorer

And here's FREAKTOGRAPHY, the person who explored and photographed the house (photos for sale, if you're interested):


Megan Smolenyak Smolenyak
tag:megansmolenyak.posthaven.com,2013:Post/793505 2015-01-08T22:37:28Z 2015-01-08T22:37:28Z Down Under: William & Nancy Ashley of Florida

The Genealogy Guys, George Morgan and Drew Smith, explore Oaklawn Cemetery in Tampa, Florida, and tell the story of William and Nancy Ashley, hinted at by their tombstone which describes them as "master and slave," but reveals more about the true nature of their relationship:

"Faithful to each other in that relationship in life, in death, they are not separated. Stranger consider and be wiser, in the Grave, all human distinction of race or caste mingle together in one common dust. To commemorate their fidelity to each other, this stone was erected by their Executor, John Jackson."

What makes this especially remarkable is that this tombstone was erected in the 1870s.

Megan Smolenyak Smolenyak
tag:megansmolenyak.posthaven.com,2013:Post/792540 2015-01-07T15:22:39Z 2015-01-07T15:22:39Z Genealogy Roundup, January 7

17 year old Annie Moore was the 1st immigrant to arrive at Ellis Island 1/1/1892 (seen above with her brothers)

Melissa Etheridge and her French-Canadian ancestry to feature in "Who Do You Think You Are?" She's in Quebec filming now.

Those of you on Pinterest might be interested in this board I have on Orphan Heirloom Rescues.
Megan Smolenyak Smolenyak
tag:megansmolenyak.posthaven.com,2013:Post/790417 2015-01-02T20:40:33Z 2015-01-03T17:20:12Z Waiting for Wine

© Scukrov | Dreamstime.com - Three Red Wine Bottles In Wood Case Photo

As I write this, I'm waiting for a case of wine. If not for a delivery hiccup, this would be a complete surprise, but I was forewarned by the sender this time so the second attempt would not go astray.

The reason for the wine? To thank me for research I did for a friend of one of my cousins. She contacted me last month hoping to track down some maternal cousins to surprise her mother at Christmas, and fortunately, I was able to assist.

Oddly, this is the second time I'm welcoming a case of wine (yes, a case) into my home for poking around in someone's family tree to solve a long-standing riddle, and that got me wondering about the gifts my fellow genealogists have received. I'm not talking about paying clients, and of course, most of us routinely get thank-you emails (I hope!) when we lend a helping hand, but what else has come your way? In addition to the simple satisfaction of using your research powers for good, what's the most unexpected "I appreciate your sleuthing" bonus you've ever received?

Megan Smolenyak Smolenyak
tag:megansmolenyak.posthaven.com,2013:Post/789611 2014-12-31T16:01:54Z 2014-12-31T16:01:54Z November 2014 Seton Shields Genealogy Grant

Alex Trapps-Chabala began, at age 15, to research his 5th Great Grandfather, Jordan B. Noble, a drummer in Andrew Jackson's militia who played an important role in the Battle of New Orleans. Alex will be attending commemorative events to mark the 200th anniversary of the Battle of New Orleans. While there, he will be presenting information on the life of his ancestor, who gained fame throughout his life both for his music and his role in the history of New Orleans. The grant award will fund copies of records at the New Orleans Public Library to help further Alex's research.

Megan Smolenyak Smolenyak
tag:megansmolenyak.posthaven.com,2013:Post/789604 2014-12-31T15:56:26Z 2014-12-31T15:56:26Z Genealogy Roundup, December 31

The house that time forgot: Mother and sons keep family home frozen in the 1920s for 70 YEARS with original decoration, food and furniture. – Can't get enough of these time capsule houses!

RIP, 16 men of the USS Monitor - 12/31/1862 – December 31, 2014 marks the 152nd anniversary of the loss of the USS Monitor.
Megan Smolenyak Smolenyak
tag:megansmolenyak.posthaven.com,2013:Post/787441 2014-12-24T17:15:31Z 2014-12-24T17:15:32Z Genealogy Roundup, December 24

Sean Hayes Traces Roots to Ballylongford, County Kerry, Ireland. More on this here.

Fulmoth Kearney, President Obama's Irish Immigrant Ancestor, Gets a Tombstone

Photo of Barack Obama's Irish Immigrant 3rd Great-Grandfather, Fulmoth Kearney, Discovered–thanks to Fulmoth's great-great-granddaughter, Merlyn White. For more about this, see also this article, which I love, by Sheila Langan of Irish Central!

New Pennsylvania archivist has big task – My kind of archivist and good news for PA! "...at age 10, he was forbidden to enter the genealogy room in his local library So he wrote his congressman and soon received permission to enter."

Megan Smolenyak Smolenyak
tag:megansmolenyak.posthaven.com,2013:Post/784596 2014-12-17T16:02:42Z 2014-12-17T16:02:42Z Genealogy Roundup, December 17
Julie Chen, Angie Harmon, Sean Hayes & Bill Paxton in upcoming #WDYTYA season. Check out a season preview here.

Incidentally, this is the grandfather that Julie Chen will be exploring on #WDYTYA – definitely an interesting fellow!

For fans of The Voice, here's an interesting look into the roots of Pharrell Williams.

And since he was on The Voice last night as well, here's a peek into the incredibly cool heritage of Bruno Mars.

Megan Smolenyak Smolenyak
tag:megansmolenyak.posthaven.com,2013:Post/783745 2014-12-15T20:48:28Z 2014-12-16T00:30:06Z Flat Stanley Does His Roots (VIDEO)

It's been a while since I posted a video, so I thought I'd share this oldie, but goodie about Flat Stanley researching his family tree at the National Archives and in Colonial Williamsburg and San Francisco. Youngsters in the family might enjoy it.

Megan Smolenyak Smolenyak
tag:megansmolenyak.posthaven.com,2013:Post/781384 2014-12-10T17:53:21Z 2014-12-16T00:31:17Z Genealogy Roundup, December 10 Childhood friends reconnect after World War II, Japanese internment separated them

Megan Smolenyak Smolenyak
tag:megansmolenyak.posthaven.com,2013:Post/778057 2014-12-03T15:20:48Z 2014-12-16T00:30:32Z Genealogy Roundup, December 3 Toronto man discovers play is based on his family history ~ Happy coincidence!
Megan Smolenyak Smolenyak
tag:megansmolenyak.posthaven.com,2013:Post/775429 2014-11-26T17:22:15Z 2014-11-26T17:22:15Z Genealogy Roundup, November 26

How to Avoid Dying Alone With No One to Claim Your Body ~ It seems folks are starting to wake up to the concept of unclaimed persons. Here's another article that borrows from the recent Los Angeles Times article and others.

WWII Love Letters Reveal 3 Soldiers Vying for Same Woman’s Heart

3D Printing Allows Man to Preserve & Replicate a Piece of Family History in Incredible Fashion ~ Sounds as if it takes some doing, but cool idea. Suspect it's in my future. Yours?

Megan Smolenyak Smolenyak