Previous Seton Shields Grants Awarded 2014 - 2016


2014 Grants | 2015 Grants | 2016 Grants

200 grants awarded since May 2000!

Grants Awarded in 2014

January 2014
A grant has been given to Jonathan Puckett of Richland, MS for planning Clarke-Day-Puckett family reunions, printing genealogical histories on the family, preserving old family artifacts, etc. Jonathan has compiled over 700 pages of related material into two published volumes and is working on a third. He also volunteers his services at local and state archives. And by the way, Jonathan is 15 years old.

February 2014
Carol Franks is on a personal mission to ensure that irreplaceable White County, Georgia documents are preserved. To this end, she creates digital copies of records found only in filing cabinets at the local library and will use her grant for an external hard drive with auto and cloud backup.

March 2014
Myrna Shirey of the Fore-Kin Trails Genealogical Society in Montrose, Colorado will use her grant to purchase a large flatbed scanner for digitizing a variety of records - to include funeral home books, newspaper obituaries,and club logs - of the Montrose area. The society funds the Montrose Genealogy Center that is free to the public and is completely funded by donations and product sales resulting from preservation work.

April 2014
In 2011, the Historical Society of Kent County, one of Maryland's earliest counties, was delighted to receive the donation of a building that will be the future Bordley History Center. The History Center will have both a research library, with computers and databases accessible to the public, as well as a state of the art archival room that will keep the society's collection of negatives, family Bibles, portraits, oral histories, family photo albums and legal documents preserved. Liberty Bliss, a work-study student at the society, requested a grant, explaining that, "under the current director Karen Emerson, we are working very hard to preserve and document the African-American and Hispanic communities that have been in Kent County forever but underrepresented. We are going to begin an oral history project with members of the Hispanic community in the fall, and I am currently working on a proposal to begin a slave genealogy project. In addition to this much needed research center, we are doing our best to fill this crucial need in the historical and genealogical communities. We have the heart, we have the hands, we just don't have the funds." This month's grant is intended to help with the funds part of the equation.

May 2014
My father's entire side of the family is Carpatho-Rusyn, so I've been a member of the Carpatho-Rusyn Society (C-RS) since it first launched in 1994. In fact, I recently had the honor of speaking at the society's 20th anniversary event in Pittsburgh, and as it happens, this grants program has just reached its 14th birthday! So I've decided to celebrate both together by awarding a grant to the C-RS in support of the Carpatho-Rusyn National Cultural Center in Munhall, PA. If you happen to be part Rusyn yourself, please consider joining and/or visiting soon!

June 2014
Normally, I summarize applications when sharing grant awards, but I've decided to let this month's for the El Monte Cemetery Association in California speak for itself. I only hope that a few other cemeteries will take their lead and borrow a few of these ideas!

"Savannah Memorial Park, a pioneer cemetery, recently received historical landmark, number 1046. We serve the genealogical and local community as the historical representation of the collective memories of the pioneers, veterans, infants and families who settled in the San Gabriel Valley during the early 1800s and continues to date. Savannah is open every day to descendants, visitors, students and scholars. We are making changes to the property that will make the cemetery a multi-cultural repository and community asset. Savannah hosts Memorial and Veterans Day ceremonies, "Retiring of the Colors" events and are part of Rosemead's 4th of July Parade. We are partners with the El Monte Historical Museum and Society, as the two cities have a shared and rich historical past. Savannah has self-guided tours made possible by placards next to more than 40 of our founding fathers (and mothers) so that individuals can learn about the people who settled in Rosemead and El Monte, CA. Girl and Boy Scout troops from our area come to help clean the cemetery, work on badges and on special occasions, Savannah hosts "Probing Days" where the kids can come and probe for sunken grave markers. In the near future the Boy Scouts and their fathers will be coming to raise all of our markers so that they are all level in regards to our drought-tolerant landscaping redesign (we are in a severe drought). We want the cemetery to reflect our city's pride, not a neglected dried up weed patch."

July 2014
The ASK GRANNY program provides free genealogical session and materials to senior citizen groups. In 2011 they were awarded the "Outstanding Contribution to the Field of Genealogy" by the Georgia Genealogical Society. The Ask Granny authors have distributed free session materials to civic organizations, librarians, and genealogical societies in 48 states as well as Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom, and have held more than 50 seminars, helping more than 700 senior citizens in the process. The grant will allow them to supply free materials to still more ASK GRANNY students.

August 2014
The Genealogy & History Department of the Shelby County Public Library provides housing for documentation dating as far back as 1822 for Shelby County, Indiana and surrounding counties. Over 3,500 family and history folders contain invaluable information from Shelby County’s earliest organizations and settlers. The grant award will fund the purchase of a mobile scanner that will be used to help visitors preserve valuable family photos and documents, as well as to quickly share these with the library so more information can be added to the department's family files.

September 2014

Five-Finger Discount

I loved the book, Five-Finger Discount, by Helene Stapinski. Then to learn that a documentary about this dramatic, multi-generational saga – featuring a cast of swindlers, bookies, embezzlers, political "fixers" and mobster wannabes – is in process...well, how great is that? The film will explore how families and cities grow and change, through the medium of Helene's journey from past to present. It's a great story and I'm proud to be supporting the film with a grant award. If you feel as drawn to the story, as I am, you'll be happy to know that you can help bring this film to life, too, by supporting the crowdsourcing project at Kickstarter.

October 2014
Queen of Creole Cuisine

Leah Chase is known as the "Queen of Creole Cuisine," but she's so much more than that–a patron of the arts, a civil rights leader, a champion of New Orleans–you name it. She's a truly remarkable woman, (and full disclosure: I researched her roots), so when I saw that a documentary of her life is being filmed, I wanted to help make it possible for more people to hear her story. You can help bring the project to life, as well, by pledging your support to the crowdsourcing campaign on Kickstarter.

November 2014
Alex Trapps-Chabala began, at age 15, to research his 5th Great Grandfather, Jordan B. Noble, a drummer in Andrew Jackson's militia who played an important role in the Battle of New Orleans. Alex will be attending commemorative events to mark the 200th anniversary of the Battle of New Orleans. While there, he will be presenting information on the life of his ancestor, who gained fame throughout his life both for his music and his role in the history of New Orleans. The grant award will fund copies of records at the New Orleans Public Library to help further Alex's research.

December 2014
The Simpsonville Genealogical Research Room is a small, independent genealogical research library currently located in the Senior and Activity Center of Simpsonville, SC. The room consists of several shelves of local history books and research guides, as well as a computer, all to help beginner and advanced genealogists in finding their Simpsonville roots. Much of the initiative to establish the library came from a young man in the community named Andrew Staton. The grant will assist with the cost of applying for 501c3 federal tax exempt status.

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Grants Awarded in 2015

January 2015
Crystal Medler Rojas Mora of Kenmore, WA has spent the past six years researching the life of her maternal second great-grandmother, Lucretia Berry Porter Cowan, who, after her move from Maine to Seattle with her two young children in 1912 eventually gained a reputation as one of the best photographers in Seattle. Crystal is planning to write a biography of her ancestor and will be making a research trip to Maine, where she will visit a number of libraries, archives, and historical societies. The grant will help to pay for fees associated with this trip.

February 2015
Berry Pomeroy Castle
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.
Photo Credit: Glen Bowman

March 2015
'A Legacy on Glass' traveling exhibit
The Huron Shores Genealogical Society has a room at the Robert Parks Library in Oscoda, MI which houses a vast collection of resources and where Society volunteers aid visitors in personal family history quests. The grant will assist with costs associated with a new Society initiative, “A Legacy on Glass” traveling exhibit. This exhibit will explore the photography of Ard G. Emery between 1892-1904, as well as sharing the technological barriers Mr. Emery had to overcome to create his photos of life in the farms, cities, and landscapes of Iosco County, MI. Personal stories behind various photos, which were unearthed in the course of research, will also be shared.

Photo Credit: This photograph by Ard G. Emery is used with the kind permission of the Huron Shores Genealogical Society.

April 2015
Raritan-Valley-Slavic-Society
Raritan Valley Slavic Cultural and Heritage Society of New Jersey is an organization I’ve long admired. With a small group of volunteers, they publish an excellent newsletter and orchestrate a number of interesting events that cater to all Slavs – Belarusans, Bohemians, Bulgarians, Carpatho-Rusyns, Cossacks, Croats, Czechs, Lemkos, Lusatians, Macedonians, Montenegrins, Moravians, Poles, Rusnaks, Russians, Ruthenians, Serbs, Slovaks, Slovenes, Sorbs, Wends, and Ukrainians. Phew! I like this inclusive approach and the fact that they share personal recollections, recipes, folk tales, books, traditions – you name it. I often learn about my own ancestral traditions by reading their newsletter, and am delighted to select them for this grant.

May-July 2015
German American Cultural Center church books genealogy grant
Earl Sundmaker visits churches in the New Orleans area to ask if he can copy their records, then scans, prints and put in binders to present to the church for their use.
Read the full story of Earl's work here.



August - October 2015

This quarter, as both requests were modest, I awarded two grants – one to Rich Custer and the other to the White Lake Area Historical Society.

Carpatho-Rusyns of Pennsylvania
Rich has invested a couple of decades traveling around gaining access to Rusyn records that would otherwise vanish, so he’s an amazing gift to the Carpatho-Rusyn community. The grant will assist with costs associated with a week-long research trip to archives in eastern Pennsylvania and northeastern New Jersey.
(Photo is used with the kind permission of Rich Custer.)

The White Lake Area Historical Society is dedicated to preserving their area history for future generations. The Society’s latest project is the creation of a series of books that will showcase area families and notable people, places, and events; the grant will help defray the initial costs associated with this project. The Society also has a collection of family banners, many of which are walked in the annual 4th of July parade, as shown in the photo, used with permission from the White Lake Area Historical Society.
White Lake Area Historical Society

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Grants Awarded in 2016

January - March 2016
This quarter, as all of the requests were modest, I'm awarding four grants – to the Morgan County Public Library, the Scott County Historical Society, Oak and Laurel Cemetery Preservation, and to support 'The Rising' film.

 Oak and Laurel Cemetery PreservationEmily Ford, of Oak and Laurel Cemetery Preservation, LLC, works to reunite families with their burial places and tombs in New Orleans Cemeteries.

The grant will assist with costs related to transcribing the records in interment books (located at Louisiana State University) for the tomb of the Société Française de Bienfaisance et D’Assistance Mutuelle, one of the largest structures in Lafayette Cemetery No. 2 in the Central City neighborhood of New Orleans.

The tomb has no names inscribed upon it, so without these efforts to make the names of those buried in this tomb available to family researchers, who in turn can reconnect with their family burial place, those who are buried in this tomb will never be remembered and the tomb will eventually collapse from neglect. (Photo above, showing the tomb and its corresponding interment book is used with the permission of Emily Ford.)

The Scott County Historical Society of Indiana makes family history available to the community as a way to provide support and encouragement to a community dealing with some significant challenges. To this end, the grant will assist with purchase costs for a digital camera, digital voice recorder, CDs and CD cases.

The Rising'The Rising’ is a film-in-process that will dramatize the Easter Rising Rebellion, the heroic story of a revolution against the British Empire that led to the the birth of a nation, the Irish Republic. Liam Neeson's son, Micheal, is slated to play Michael Collins, the role played famously by his father two decades ago in the movie Michael Collins.

Morgan County Public libraryThe Morgan County Public Library houses a wonderful collection of family histories for Morgan County. Janice Kistler oversees requests for genealogy assistance and provides genealogy research when requested. The grant will assist with the purchase of a wand to scan photographs and documents for digitization and sharing online.

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April - June 2016

Zion CemeteryEdwina St. Rose of The Preservers of the Daughters of Zion Cemetery told me of the organization’s goal to restore and preserve a historic African American burial ground (listed on both the Virginia and National Registers of Historic Places) that was purchased in 1873 by a women's charity.

In addition to their restoration work, the group is researching those buried there in order to help descendants learn more about their ancestors.

The funding from this grant will be used to assist in repairing a damaged grave marker.


lawnmowerBecky Shuff contacted me on behalf of Terry Cemetery. She explained that it was established circa 1835 and holds approximately 250 graves, including three Civil War soldiers, and that it has no means of continuous care, so she had undertaken the role of caretaker.

She and her sister, Betty Fox, sought to identify as many of the unmarked graves as possible and published a book, Terry Cemetery, Victor, WV, which included a list of identified graves, obituaries, death certificates, photographs, and military data, as well as a Terry genealogy report.

All proceeds from the sale of the book go to the Terry Cemetery Fund for mowing and upkeep expenses. The grant will provide funds for a new lawnmower.


Cecilia ChienCecilia Chien was told by her father that her family was descended from a king of the 10th century. She began investigating her roots in 2002 and discovered that she is a 38th generation descendant of King Chien (852-932) who founded a prosperous kingdom in the Yangzi delta.

Her goal is to write an account, “1,000 Years of a Chinese Family,” an odyssey back to the land of her parents. She will be visiting China this year to further her research.

Cecilia requested and received funding to cover half of her round-trip airfare to Shanghai for her fieldwork.



July - September 2016

Long Island GenealogyThis quarter, I'm awarding a grant to Mac Titmus and his co-volunteers of Long Island Genealogy. Long Island research can actually be quite challenging, so I'm really happy to support a resource I've found to be so helpful.

Since they never charge for information, the group would like to file for not-for-profit status, which has a number of costs associated with it and the grant will help with these. If you'd like to join me in supporting the service they provide to researchers, you can donate at their site (you'll find a donation button near the top of the home page).

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