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Honoring Our Ancestors
May 23, 2018


Greetings Fellow Family History Sleuths,

Whoa, a lot has happened in the genealogy world over the last month! A new season of Who Do You Think You Are?, the spotlight put on genetic genealogy by the Golden State Killer case, immigration research taking a turn on stage as well, a new CEO for Ancestry.com, and the launch of the Virtual Genealogical Society. Phew! And then, of course, we have the usual - grants, soldiers coming home, celebrity roots (Meghan Markle and Bruce Springsteen), strange names, unclaimed persons, and more. There's plenty here to keep you busy until next month!

Until then, happy sleuthing!



Kanye, Meet Your Great-Uncle

Dear Kanye,

Like countless others, I was confounded by your recent comment about slavery being a choice, so I decided to explore your family tree (as a genealogist, that�s my instinctive response to many circumstances). Your sprawling roots extend to at least a dozen states, but since many are most interested in the branch sporting the surname they were born with, I took a deeper dive into your West line.

As soon as I realized they were from Maryland�s Eastern Shore, I wondered whether your family might have been free before Emancipation. Nationwide, roughly ten percent of African Americans were free before the Civil War, but the percentage in this region was much higher�almost 50% for Maryland.

Turns out they were. The giveaway was the 1860 census showing your great-great-great-grandparents, Peter and Nancy West, with their children. �Free people of color� are listed in census records before 1870, the first one conducted post-Emancipation, but sadly, those who were enslaved remain nameless, which is why genealogists frequently refer to the �wall of 1870� in African American research.

But your West family was free, so this is where I first encountered Daniel, your third great-uncle, then 15 years old.

Click here to continue reading.

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Seton Shields Genealogy Grant #205: General N.B. Baker Library

The first quarter of 2018 had multiple grant recipients and I�m pleased to announce that the General N.B. Baker Library of Sutherland, Iowa, is the third and final one. (You can read about the first recipient, Vine Lake Preservation Trust, here, and the second grant recipient, Judy Purkiss, here.)

The General N.B. Baker Library is a public library which began development of the Northwest Iowa Historical and Genealogical Research Area in 2016. The Research Area contains books related to Iowa history and genealogy as a whole; books related specifically to the history and genealogy of O'Brien County (Iowa) and the eight surrounding counties; a digital material collection including county histories, military rosters, and diaries; and a cemetery index which includes printed obituaries for people buried in area cemeteries and those from Sutherland who are buried elsewhere. The library is now starting a new initiative to make digital copies of any photos related to Sutherland and the surrounding areas.

The grant will provide funds toward the purchase of a scanner for converting larger documents, photos and objects to a digital format.

As a reminder, 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 17

Photo Credits: Chuck Kennedy/Public Domain (photo of Michelle Obama) and Northern Ireland Office (photo of Meghan Markle)

Come through, Jonesboro, GA! 3rd great-grandmothers of Michelle Obama & Meghan Markle both lived there in 1870, 5 years post-Emancipation. Who�d have imagined their descendants would become First Lady of USA & British royalty?!

Tips for Tracing Your Family Tree � Um, so my �Who Do You Think You Are?� book was supposedly the inspiration for the series Who Do You Think You Are?

#HeyJohnKelly: Trump Chief of Staff Takes Heat Over Assimilation Comments

Unclaimed but still remembered � I have worked with Lackawanna County, PA for over a decade to keep the number of unclaimed people to a minimum, but it's lovely to see the way the exceptions are treated.

My great-grandfather had the awesome name of Yurko Sydorko. What�s the most amusing/unexpected name in *your* family tree?

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Genealogy Round Up, May 9

(Photo courtesy, the Boone family)

WWII veteran overwhelmed by kindness, carried by Arlington National Cemetery worker to wife's grave � More of this kind of thing, please.

Boy George shares an unusual and touching message from a fan � Boy George - while filming "Who Do You Think You Are?"

17 British sperm donors have fathered more than 500 children between them, figures show � Imagine the family trees.

From Ellen to Eileen � A tale about my own family!

Soldier Missing From Korean War Accounted For (Quintero, A.) � Delighted that Cpl. Albert E. Quintero who gave his life in Korea has been identified. For some reason, this release calls him a Pfc, but he was a Cpl. Honored to have researched his family. RIP and welcome home.

Why Hasn�t Devin Nunes Assimilated Yet? � Wow, Medium is featuring another one of my articles!

Europeana Migration � Chance to share your family's migration tale

New DNA technology helped to identify remains of 1st Sgt. David H. Quinn � This might explain the sudden burst in identifications of cases I've researched over the years. Interesting prospects for the future as well!

Parabon@ Announces Snapshot@ Genetic Genealogy Service for Law Enforcement � More movement in the intersection of genetic genealogy and criminal investigation

The creepy, dark side of DNA databases � And the genetic genealogy scare pieces keep coming...

This 400-year-old church is older than almost any institution in America � 400 years!

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Genealogy Round Up, May 2

USCIS and the Legacy of Ellis Island � Excellent video about the history of immigration in the U.S. since 1890. And yes, USCIS, at 3:57, that�s the original Ellis Island. In fact, it�s the original immigrant, Annie Moore, with her brothers. Thank you for addressing name change myth!

DNA from Genealogy Sites Led to Break in East Area Rapist Case � If this is accurate, brace yourself for genetic genealogy backlash in 3, 2, ...

Take Caution: DNA expert warns of genealogy testing, privacy issues � Well, that didn�t take long...

Genealogy and the Golden State Killer � Recommend whole thing, but especially "Two Ideas, Both Important" section

'Who Do You Think You Are?' Season 10 to Feature Megan Mullally & More (VIDEO) � And now for something completely different - Megan Mullally, Hilary Duff, Jon Cryer (husband of host of Long Lost Family), Laverne Cox, Molly Shannon, and Jean Smart in upcoming "Who Do You Think You Are?" season

The bull in the DNA china shop � Judy G. Russell's concerns mirror my own.

How the Supreme Court Could Rewrite the Rules for DNA Searches � Next chapter??

Virtual Genealogical Society � Hey, have y'all checked out the Virtual Genealogical Society yet?

Um, Ancestry?

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Genealogy Round Up, April 25

Photo Credit: Collection Stadsarchief Rotterdam/Municipal Archives, Rotterdam

From Rotterdam, Many Left for a New Life � Another Ellis Island counterpart emerging (think Cobh, Liverpool, Antwerp) - this time in Rotterdam.

Mattel chief Georgiadis quits for top job at Ancestry.com

On the Prowl for Bruce Springsteen�s Irish Roots

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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.

  • May 7, 2019 � Morning Forum, Los Altos, CA

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