Honoring Our Ancestors Newsletter
By Megan Smolenyak Smolenyak
Greetings Fellow Family History Sleuths,
been such a fun summer, meeting with friends and working on a wide
variety of stimulating projects. Lately my attention has been focused on orphan
heirloom "rescues" -- reuniting "lost"
heirlooms with the appropriate owner (usually a descendant of the
original owner). This can be one
of the most exciting and rewarding "reunions" for both the
rescuer and the owner. For more information and resources to
inspire your heirloom search or rescue, visit Honoring
Our Ancestors Library. And if
you have any orphan heirlooms that have somehow come into your
possession that you'd like to give to a family member, send me an email
My latest case involves a photo album that was lost
in the streets of
In this newsletter. . .
On August 1,
Conservancy celebrated the 150th anniversary of the opening
of the Castle Garden immigration station, and launched a new website, www.CastleGarden.org,
giving users access to a database of New York
arrivals from 1820 to 1913.
to David Bromwich of The Battery Conservancy, the completed database
will contain twelve million records - 8.5 million people who entered
basic search for a name will be free, and more advanced searches will be
available for a fee. I tried ordering an advanced search on the
day the site opened, but have not yet received the results. I was
pleasantly surprised, though, that they took the trouble to call me to
tell me the results would not be available for some time.
is typical with new sites, the search functionality is not as flexible
as we might like, but once again, Steve Morse has created a solution.
If you have ancestors you believe came through pre-Ellis Island
you can also search these records at Ancestry.com in their Immigration
Collection. There's a fee involved, but you may be able to access
the collection for free at a local library, and their database includes
digitized images of the passengers' manifest. Also, I've already
learned that it's helpful to use both to excavate those ancestors who
might be hiding. I've found some ancestors in Ancestry.com's
collection that I haven't found at the
haven't had time to play with it yet – other than just exploring the
examples they have – but you might want to experiment a bit with
Conan, host of NPR's Talk of the Nation interviewed Colleen
Fitzpatrick, author of Forensic Genealogy, a representative of
African Ancestry, and me for his program on
July 26 titled, "Genealogy, Forensics and the Digital Age."
The impact of DNA testing and other types of technology is definitely
growing as more people are being DNA-tested and using sophisticated
research techniques that
border on forensics. The interview came about suddenly as one of
his producers had spotted a reference to Trace
Your Roots with DNA (the book I co-authored with Ann Turner)
in the previous day's issue of The
New York Times.
I think I might have caught Neal off-guard when I
gleefully explained my Smolenyak-Smolenyak situation! To listen to this
interview, please visit: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=4771723.
Congratulations to the June, July and August Honoring Our Ancestors grant awardees, and a big Thank You to everyone who took the time to send in their grant proposals. It was a lot of fun to read them and, as usual, difficult to choose the winners.
Please visit the Honoring our Ancestors Grants page to read about our awardee projects, and how you can apply for a grant to support your genealogical project.
Articles by Megan, Published in Ancestry Daily News
August 2, A Coronery Case -- This case has nothing to do with arteries and the heart, but has much to do with our friend, the coroner. Like funeral home directors, coroners can be extremely helpful to genealogists, but it isn't often we get the chance to return the favor. Recently, I had such an opportunity and it reminded me very much of the orphan heirloom rescue cases I've written about in the past.
July 7, Ancestral Art -- I share fun ways and creative resources you can bring the visuals of family history into your everyday life through customized "graffiti" in your home, photostamps, Irish Townland Maps, converting photos into 3D sculptures and other ideas.
June 26, Still More Extreme Genealogy -- The last in a series of four articles based on a survey taken at www.genetealogy.com, I share the most extreme stories of what people have done to satiate their genealogy cravings -- bold actions taken, big money spent, and slightly naughty behaviors revealed!
In an attempt to satisfy my curiosity
and rectify the fact that genealogists – although there are countless
millions of us – are ridiculously understudied and understood, I've
taken to running surveys through one of my websites. If you've got
a few minutes to spare, I would be very grateful if you would go to http://www.genetealogy.com/results.html
and complete the latest one on the impact of the Internet and DNA
testing on genealogy. As with earlier surveys, results will be
shared on the website and in articles I write, mostly for Ancestry
Daily News. Thanks in advance for your time!
It's always a pleasure to connect with other like-minded folks at these inspiring events. Thanks to the New York Genealogical and Biographical Society for having me speak at their conference. Here's what's coming up next (visit Schedule for speaking topics and details):
Please forward this newsletter to your family and friends who are interested in genealogy - thank you!
Wishing you an abundance of genealogical
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