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Honoring Our Ancestors
March 18, 2015


Greetings Fellow Family History Sleuths,

I'm writing this a little early in order to have time to recuperate from St. Patrick's Day Week, and hope many of my fellow genealogists — whether of Irish heritage or not — will be joining in the festivities. When you have a chance, I hope you'll explore this issue which is heavy on celebrity roots (more WDYTYA!), grants, DNA, and folks who live a loooong time! See you in April!



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!

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Who Do You Think You Are? Returns With Julie Chen

The wait is over! Who Do You Think You Are?, the popular celebrity roots show, was finally back on Sunday, March 8th at 10/9c on TLC. Kicking off the season was Julie Chen who ventured to China (a first for the series) and rediscovered the grandfather she thought she knew. The experience inspired Ms. Chen to incorporate more of her Chinese heritage into her life and her son's, and might just inspire you to ask more questions about your own grandparents.

Next up was Josh Groban, who knew little about his mother's lineage, and so set out on a journey to learn more about the maternal side of his family tree, in the episode which aired Sunday, March 15 at 10/9c on TLC.

Josh traced his ancestors' roots from Los Angeles to Germany and followed the trail of his 8th great-grandfather, discovering a brilliant man who was a deacon, author, well-known astrologer (admired by Sir Isaac Newton), and music and singing teacher. But Josh also discovered that his ancestor's predictions of cataclysmic doom put him in the crosshairs of the church and the fate of his family on the line. Take a sneak peek:

Other celebrities featured this season include:

  • March 22: Angie Harmon
  • March 29: Sean Hayes
  • April 5: Tony Goldwyn
  • April 12: America Ferrera
  • April 19: Bill Paxton
  • April 26: Melissa Etheridge

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February 2015 Seton Shields Genealogy Grant

Photo Credit: Glen Bowman

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.

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Genealogy Round Up, March 11

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

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Genealogy Round Up, March 4

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!

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

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!

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!

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Genealogy Round Up, 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

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Genealogy Round Up, 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 last month!

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 the previous 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.

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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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