Text size:  A  A  A  

Honoring Our Ancestors Newsletter

July 18, 2007

By Megan Smolenyak Smolenyak

Megan Smolenyak SmolenyakGreetings Fellow Family History Sleuths,

Showing up in your mail box a few days late because I took a vacation! Here's hoping many of you are also taking time for a little R&R this summer -- even if it's to explore ancestral cemeteries (that counts!).


In this newsletter. . .

Famous Genes and the Business of Genetics

Check out this series of articles on genetics in Forbes, including this photo series on celebrity DNA. It's funny -- this stuff has been around for about half a dozen years, but the whole world seems to be waking up to it now!

Return to Top

More Reasons to Travel to Scotland & Ireland

The globe-trotting genealogist will be delighted in these latest developments -- genealogical concierges in Scotland and butlers in Ireland. What a great idea! Wonder how long have to wait for this to catch on in Slovakia??

Sheraton Edinburgh launches Genealogy Concierge Service

Shelbourne offers genealogy butler

Return to Top

USCIS to Offer Genealogy Program

From the latest issue of Nu? What's New?, The E-zine of Jewish Genealogy by Gary Mokotoff, comes this promising news:

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Plans to Implement Fee-for-Service Program
Seven years ago, Marian Smith, historian for the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) divulged, in the Summer 2000 issue of AVOTAYNU, a proposal to improve service for genealogists at INS through a fee-for-service program. Such a program was encouraged by the International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies (IAJGS) and other major genealogy organizations. The wheels of the government grind slowly, but sometime at the end of 2007 the program, called the Genealogy Program, will be implemented.

The article goes on to list the types of records that will be available under this new program:

Available records under this program will include Naturalization Certificate Files (C-Files) 1906–1956; Alien Registration Forms 1940–1944; Visa Files 1924–1944; Visa Records 1944–1951; Registry Files 1929–1944; Registry records 1944–1951; and Alien Files numbered below 8 million (contents prior to 1951).

This is going to be a real treasure trove for the 40% of Americans with Ellis Island roots. Thank goodness for Marian Smith and her persistence! I can't wait!

Return to Top

So That's What Helena Looked Like

If anyone gets to Wolfson College in Oxford anytime soon, I'd love to see what these look like -- especially Helena, the daughter of Eve I descend from (along with a huge chunk of those of European maternal origin):

Daughters of Eve In Paintings

Mixing painting and DNA. Hmmm . . . wonder what other creative uses of DNA we'll see in the not-too-distant future?

Return to Top

Bono Joins the Genetic Genealogy Gang

Who'd have thought that genetic genealogy would make Vanity Fair, but it has. Bono is guest editor for the July issue (out on stands now) and has included this little gem from Spencer Wells. As a bonus, in case you're curious, you get a photo of baby Bono, whose paternal ancestors were apparently among the first to wander out of Africa.

Return to Top

I'll Take a Kilt and Some Y-DNA, Please

If you're an avid genealogist, you've probably been there. There you are overseas exploring your old country roots, and you've just encountered a local with the same surname as you. Coincidence? Well, if you're traveling in Scotland, the pair of you can snag some DNA tests and find out. These folks in Scotland have hit on DNA testing as a means of encouraging ancestral tourism.

Actually, as someone who has traveled abroad with a bunch of DNA kits at the ready, I really like this notion. Now you've got a safety net if you find lots of willing test-takers -- sort of like being able to snag one of those disposable cameras in a pinch.

You know, genetic genealogy has become so trendy, it almost makes me nostalgic about the days when I took bullets for being a proponent. Just a few years ago, you were accused of cheating or trying to take shortcuts if you dabbled in it. Look how far we've come!

Return to Top

Thanks, SCGS!

Roots Television ventured out in June for the second time (our first outing was London's Who Do You Think You Are LIVE! event -- just go here and type in "who do you think" to see the 8 videos we have so far), and man, do these folks know how to throw an event! Thanks especially to Paula Hinkel and Charlotte Bocage for all they did for us!

I had a chance to do 5 talks, tape a few remarks for an upcoming movie (Google Me), and catch up with some friends. You might spot a couple in this photo (hint: think ISOGG and Tracing the Tribe):

Return to Top

Giant Carrots and Rivers of Milk

Thanks to kind reader Diana Gilman Maurer, I learned that Golden Door was indeed showing in my area, so I went to see it. It's the kind of movie that probably couldn't be made in America due to its deliberate pace, but I enjoyed it as the whole two hours follows an Italian family dealing with emigration and all it entails. You follow them as they make their decision to emigrate on through their arrival and processing at Ellis Island. With 6 of my 8 great-grandparents being Ellis Island-era arrivals, it gave me a chance to journey with them in a sense -- and I suspect fellow genealogists would appreciate this opportunity as well.

The movie also features remarkable imagery (click on the gallery here to get a sampling) -- and that's where the reference to carrots and milk comes from. But I don't want to ruin it for you, so you'll have to go watch it yourself to see what I mean!

Return to Top

DNA, Roots Television & Black Sheep

Here's a little catch up from the end of June -- a radio interview I did for NPR, a podcast with the Genealogy Guys, and a fun article on black sheep that includes Rhonda McClure, Leland Meitzler and yours truly. This last one sure contradicts that genealogy-as-bunk article from the Smithsonian Magazine that's getting so much play. Apparently, the writer still thinks we're after illustrious roots -- very 1927 of him.

-- NPR's Talk of the Nation: Putting the "Genes" Back in Genealogy

-- Genealogy Guys podcast -- an interview with Drew Smith about: Roots Television

-- Black sheep, good sheep in the Globe and Mail

Return to Top

Upcoming Events

If you plan to be near any of the events where I'll be speaking, I would love to meet you. It's always a kick for me when folks mention that they read this newsletter, my blog, Ancestry Daily News or whatever, so don't be shy about introducing yourself!

For more information on these events, please see my Events Calendar. And if you're interested in scheduling me, just click here.

  • August 4, 2007 - Newport News, VA - Tidewater Genealogical Society - "Trace Your Roots with DNA"
  • August 15-18, 2007 - Fort Wayne, IN - FGS/ACPL Conference: Meeting at the Crossroads of America - "Beyond Y-DNA: Your Genetic Genealogy Options," "Find That Obituary! Online Newspaper Research," "Reverse Genealogy: Techniques for Finding Your Lost Loved Ones," "Trace Your Roots with DNA" and "The Quest for Ellis Island Annie"
  • September 29, 2007 - Manassas, VA - Ruth E. Lloyd Information Center (RELIC) for Genealogy and Local History - "Trace Your Roots with DNA"
  • September 30, 2007 - Purcellville, VA - Loudoun County Public Library - "Trace Your Roots with DNA"
  • October 4-6, 2007 - Marshalltown, IA - Iowa Genealogical Society Annual Fall Conference - "The Quest for Annie Moore," "Find That Obituary! Online Newspaper Research," "Remembering Our Ancestors," "Trace Your Roots with DNA," "Beyond Y-DNA: Your Genetic Genealogy Options" and "Cases That Made My Brain Hurt"
  • October 21, 2007 - Wilmington, DE - Delaware Genealogical Society - "Remembering Our Ancestors"
  • October 28-November 4, 2007 - 2007 Genealogy Conference and Cruise - hosted by Wholly Genes Software - "Reverse Genealogy: Techniques for Finding Your Lost Loved Ones" and "Cases That Made My Brain Hurt"
  • January 26, 2008 - Boerne, TX - Genealogical Society of Kendall County - "Trace Your Roots with DNA," "Beyond Y-DNA: Your Genetic Genealogy Options," "Reverse Genealogy: Techniques for Finding Your Lost Loved Ones," "Find That Obituary! Online Newspaper Research" and "Remembering Our Ancestors"
  • March 1, 2008 - Tallahassee, FL - Tallahassee Genealogical Society - "Trace Your Roots with DNA," "Beyond Y-DNA: Your Genetic Genealogy Options," "Cases That Made My Brain Hurt," "Reverse Genealogy: Techniques for Finding Your Lost Loved Ones" and "Remembering Our Ancestors"
  • April 12, 2008 - Pittsburgh, PA - Western Pennsylvania Genealogical Society - Details TBD.
  • April 26, 2008 - Topeka, KS - Topeka Genealogical Society - "Trace Your Roots with DNA," "Beyond Y-DNA: Your Genetic Genealogy Options," "Building a Village-Based Community" and "Reverse Genealogy: Techniques for Finding Your Lost Loved Ones"
  • May 2-3, 2008 - Lincoln, NE - Nebraska State Genealogical Society - "Cases That Made My Brain Hurt," "Trace Your Roots with DNA," "Reverse Genealogy: Techniques for Finding Your Lost Loved Ones," "Jump-Starting Your Eastern European Research" and "Remembering Our Ancestors"
  • September 20, 2008 - Bangor, ME - Maine Genealogical Society - "Trace Your Roots with DNA," "Beyond Y-DNA: Your Genetic Genealogy Options," "Reverse Genealogy: Techniques for Finding Your Lost Loved Ones," "Cases That Made My Brain Hurt' and "Remembering Our Ancestors"
  • April 22-26, 2009 - Manchester, NH - The New England Regional Genealogical Conference 2009 - Topics TBD

Return to Top

Please forward this newsletter to your family and friends who are interested in genealogy -- thank you!

Wishing you an abundance of genealogical serendipity!
Megan Smolenyak Smolenyak


Note: You are receiving this because you have demonstrated an interest (e.g., you have a story in one of my books, applied for a grant, attended previous events, etc.) or subscribed via my website, but please let me know if you do not want to receive any further emails, and I will promptly remove you from my list. And rest assured, this is my personal list and not shared with anyone else! Thanks, Megan

Return to Top