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Honoring Our Ancestors
July 21, 2015


Greetings Fellow Family History Sleuths,

Another fun genealogical month! Who Do You Think You Are? is back on air on July 26th, the National Library of Ireland released an amazing (and free) set of Catholic church records online, and the next season of Finding Your Roots got the go ahead (after the Ben Affleck incident) for a January 2016 launch. Read on to learn 29 of the celebs who will be taking their turn under the ancestral microscope!



Season 3 of "Finding Your Roots" Green-lighted for January 2016 Return on PBS

Several weeks ago, I wrote about the PBS decision to delay the next season of Finding Your Roots as a result of an internal investigation triggered by the Ben Affleck incident involving censorship of a slave-owning ancestor of his from a previously aired episode. Season 3 of the popular show, hosted and produced by Harvard scholar Henry Louis Gates, Jr., was put on hold until certain measures were implemented.

This left avid genealogy and history buffs wondering when the series would resume. The good news is that it's sooner than we might have thought. Originally slated to begin airing in September of this year, it's now scheduled for January 2016.

Among the celebrities we can expect to see under the ancestral microscope early next year are Patricia Arquette, Lidia Bastianich, Richard Branson, Donna Brazile, Ty Burrell, LL Cool J, Mia Farrow, Bill Hader, Neil Patrick Harris, Dustin Hoffman, Jimmy Kimmel, Norman Lear, Maya Lin, Bill Maher, Julianna Margulies, John McCain, Julianne Moore, Azar Nafisi, Bill O'Reilly, Shondra Rhimes, Maya Rudolph, Gloria Steinem, Kara Walker, and Keenen Ivory Wayans.

Those needing a celebrity roots fix in the interim can watch the seventh season of TLC's Who Do You Think You Are? (WDYTYA) which starts on July 26th and will feature Tom Bergeron, Bryan Cranston, Ginnifer Goodwin, J.K. Rowling, and Alfre Woodard.

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LeBron James Is Making His Cleveland Ancestors Proud

There was no shortage of coverage of the stunning performance of LeBron James in the recent NBA finals, nor of his Prodigal Son, return-to-Cleveland tale. Even so, he's widely regarded as a son of Akron, which makes perfect sense since he was born and raised there. But few realize that when he rebounded to Cleveland last year, he was - in a very real sense - going back to his roots. Whether LeBron knows it or not, three generations of his family once called Cleveland home.

LeBron has classic, Great Migration heritage, and two branches of his family tree made their way from the South to Cleveland. The Gay family was first, arriving from Conyers, Georgia in the 19-teens, and just a few years later, his Anderson line ventured there from Hardeman County, Tennessee. The two families were united through the marriage of LeBron's great-great-grandparents in 1926 (see above, found at familysearch.org).

Four years later, one of his great-grandmothers would be born in Cleveland, and the 1930 census captured three generations living together at 3158 East 82nd Street.

LeBron James genealogy - ancestors' census record

So last year's return to Cleveland was a homecoming in more ways than one, and as to last month's game on June 16th, Lebron's ancestors may very well have been a bonus sixth man.

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Seton Shields Genealogy Grants

As I announced last month, I'm now awarding a grant once each quarter, rather than monthly – but you can apply anytime and submissions remain active candidates for six months from the date of receipt.

To get a feel for the types of cool projects I’ve had the opportunity to contribute to over the years, check out the retrospective posts on my blog featuring a number of them (or just go to megansmolenyak.com and do a search for “grants”).

And to apply for a Seton Shields grant, fill out and submit the form here. Why not give it a go?

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Genealogy Round Up, July 8

A complicated past: How complex Irish history still influences our present

"Roots" remake in the works . . .

Immigrant Heritage Month: Pitbull Shares Family's Immigration Story, Says 'There's A Lot of History There' – So Pitbull's mother was part of "Operation Peter Pan." Cool!

These everyday objects bring a century of Irish history to life online

Catholic Parish Registers at the NLI – I hope my fellow genealogists are having half as much fun as I am playing with the recently released Irish Catholic parish records from National Library of Ireland!

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Genealogy Round Up, July 1

Study: Customers of commercial genomic testing services understand results more than expected – They had to do a study to figure out that the assumption of collective ignorance was wrong?

Actor Bryan Cranston dines at Springfield restaurant – Bryan Cranston was in Springfield, IL for "Who Do You Think You Are?"

Why I Took My Wife’s Last Name – "Maybe the name Smith is the beige of last names . . ." – interesting perspective! makes me appreciate my tongue-intimidating surname more!

Photo Credit: Libertas Academica

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Genealogy Round Up, June 24

A Formerly Interned Japanese-American Couple Finally Got High School Diplomas

American star Jerry Hall traces her roots back to OLDHAM as part of BBC series Who Do You think You Are? – Hmmm . . . since she's American, do you think she'll be in the US series, too?

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Genealogy Round Up, June 17

Medal of Honor recipient's story finally comes to light

Dale Jr. excited to explore Earnhardt roots in Germany

Canadian TV show filmed in Newbury last month – re: French-Canadian version of "Who Do You Think You Are?"

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Upcoming Events

After traveling around and speaking in 40 states and half a dozen countries since 2000, 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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