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Honoring Our Ancestors
March 23, 2016


Greetings Fellow Family History Sleuths,

Well, it's March, so as is typical for me, I've spent the month getting my Irish on and I'm not done yet! You'll see the latest in the next issue, but until then, take a look at the colorized version of the first ever immigrant to Ellis Island — Annie Moore of Ireland — with her brothers. And then learn about the Irish Catholic Parish index that was just released. Not a one-size-fits-all-solution, but will definitely help many with Emerald Isle roots. And if you don't have Irish heritage, there's still something here for you — TV shows, name maps, genetic surprises, secret rooms, sheep-naming, and more!

Until next time —



A Tribute to Annie Moore of Ellis Island

To celebrate Irish-American Heritage Month, I am sharing a photo of Annie Moore, the first immigrant to arrive at Ellis Island, along with her brothers Anthony (l) and Philip (r). This photo has certainly been seen before, but I decided to have it colorized, and I think that somehow brings the moment even more vividly to life. I hope you agree!

P.S. Special thanks to Dimple Negi for her colorization wizardry!

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Indexes of Irish Catholic Parish Records Now Live

Last July, the National Library of Ireland went live with a digitized collection of Irish Catholic parish records from the 1670-1900 time frame, a huge boon for those of Irish heritage. Just one catch. No index. Well, there were a variety of partial indexes scattered here and there on other sites, but no comprehensive one.

In an article published in the Oct/Nov 2015 issue of Irish America Magazine, I wrote, "Be patient and wait for the almost inevitable search tools that will appear on other websites. More than likely, one or more genealogy companies such as Ancestry.com, FindMyPast, and MyHeritage began transcribing the records the day they went live."

Sure enough, both Ancestry and Findmypast released their indexes this month. The timing was fairly predictable, coinciding with Irish-American Heritage Month.

The actual records themselves are patchy - some parishes have none, some have records for certain clusters of years (most commonly, a chunk of the 1800s), and so forth. That said, this is a really big deal for those with Irish heritage because - for many - this will go a long way to removing the considerable impediment of having to know exactly where your ancestors came from in Ireland before diving into parish records. In fact, many will now learn where their ancestors came from in Ireland from this tremendous collection.

As an added bonus, both companies are offering special access to celebrate their launches, and FindMyPast has committed to keeping them free forever! So what are you waiting for? Start digging for those Irish roots!

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Seton Shields Genealogy Grants

Photo Credit: Irish America — “Photo Album: The Shields Family” by Megan Smolenyak
and Irish America Digital Magazine [Page 96] — “My Irish American Mother” by Megan Smolenyak

Watch for information about the first-quarter grant recipients shortly. And then, I'll be considering applications for the second quarter, 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.

To apply for a Seton Shields grant, fill out and submit the form here. To see the types of cool projects I've had the opportunity to contribute to over the years, look here.

Seton Shields, pictured above, is my remarkable mother. Naming this grants program after her is one small way to keep her memory alive, though she’s no longer with us.

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Genealogy Round Up, March 16

How Can Paris Let this Museum of Music Treasure Close Down? — UPDATE: The Phono Museum’s crowdfunding project was a success! (But don't let that stop you from reading about a really fascinating museum.)

John Kasich: A Carpatho-Rusyn Pennsylvanian — I figured John Kasich was probably Carpatho-Rusyn and it turns out he is

New Ancestry Show is like Who Do You Think You Are? - With a Twist — Still more on that show I hope comes to America

Shutterbug: How One Female Photographer Produced an Invaluable Record of Communist Poland — Whoa . . .

Korean War Soldier Receives Full Military Burial Honor 60 Years Later — Whoa. This is a soldier I researched way back in 2001 (yes, really), and I can see from my notes that his was a tough case. So pleased he's finally been identified and received proper honors. The video here has great footage of a military funeral. You can't help but be moved by it.

On the trail of the Kearny Cross and Charlotte E. McKay — Check out this great detective work by Bob Velke involving one of the very few women to receive the Kearny Cross for bravery during the U.S. Civil War.

Trend Alert: Is Heritage Travel The Next Big Thing? — What do you think? Trend? (Kind shout out for yours truly at the end).

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Genealogy Round Up, March 9

Photo Credit: Quodvultdeus/CC BY-SA 3.0

The Secret Rooms That Were Custom Built to Hide Your Priest — In case you were wondering where to hide your priest . . .

How the BBC's 'Secret History of my Family' reveals the truth about social mobility in Britain — Would like to see something like this in the US

Mixed-Race Korean Adoptees Use DNA to Search For Roots — Great application of genetic genealogy

Why Sleeping in a Former Slave's Home Will Make You Rethink Race Relations in America

The female Artful Dodgers: A fascinating genealogy show unearths the story of gang of girl pickpockets — The more I hear about this show, the more I love it. Please, please, please come to the US!

Mark My Words: The Subversive History of Women Using Thread as Ink

Name mapping website shows the roots of your surname — To tell you the truth, I usually ignore sites like this because they tend to do a poor job with names like Smolenyak, but darned if this one doesn't handle it (except for sort of conflating Slovakia and the Czech Republic). You might want to see what it tells you about yours.

DNA reveals fraternal twins have different fathers

Yard of Lost Toys — A little eerie, no? Incidentally, I've been to this city on a business trip and have roots about 30 km north.

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Genealogy Round Up, March 2

Photo Credit: Colonial Williamsburg Photographer Dave Doody—the Sheep Whisperer

Our Sheep Are Taking Over DoG Street and They Need Names! — UPDATE: The sheep have all been named, but this is still a fun read. And you'll get to "meet" Colonel Pendleton, Carter, Lafeyette, and Dapper Dandy!

A Burial Machine That Will Freeze Your Corpse, Vibrate It to Dust, and Turn It Into Soil — So now we can be freeze-dried?

Woman Finds Diary Of Man She Loved In World War II Museum

The Obsessive Treasure Hunters Who Travel the World with Metal Detectors — Might make a nice add-on to your next genealogical field trip!

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Genealogy Round Up, February 24

New Huck film tells the story of a father and son-run typewriter shop in New York — I love learning about these niche businesses that have survived the generations. Very cool.

Exploring an Abandoned New York Mansion with a Secret Past — This kind of stuff hurts my heart, but I can't stop staring. Think of the family history that got left behind! The library just kills me . . .

He Found Some Hidden Shelves In The Attic That Revealed A 70-Year-Old Family Secret!

DNA App Store — An online store for information about your genes will make it cheap and easy to learn more about your health risks and predispositions.

Double Helix Showstopper Cake

Thinking About Selling Your Sperm or Eggs?

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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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