Megan Smolenyak’s genealogy newsletter, “Honoring Our Ancestors,” has been providing interesting and informative news for more than a decade. Her Sept. 23 issue is a prime example of the material she offers.

This issue reminds readers that she personally has given 186 Seton Shields Grants (named after her mother) for deserving genealogy-related projects every month, but recently changed the frequency to quarterly grants. Individuals may apply any time and submissions remain active candidates for six months from the date she receives them. To see the types of projects she has supported over the years, visit her website at and do a search for “grants.” The website also provides the brief application form to be filled out by anyone wishing to apply.

Her newsletter, which can be accessed from her website (click under “about Megan”), has information on celebrities whose ancestry she has researched. TV host Jimmy Fallon’s family tree can be read at Her article for Irish America Magazine about Stephen Colbert’s Irish roots can be read at

She had done some genealogical research pertaining to President Warren Harding’s “love child,” but an elderly family member was still alive who didn’t want the research to be publicized. However, at, her research using DNA is now being made public.

Her newsletter includes a link to an article about some of the names given to babies; “from Alias to Zeppelin, 57 words you won’t believe have been used as baby names.” The article, accessed at, lists such names Awesome, Majestic, Lucky, Chaos, and Winner. Fifteen girls were given the name Kindle (the electronic reading device), 19 were named Apple, and 10 named Lemon.

In contrast to the names given to babies in this country, some names in the United Kingdom as reported in The Telegraph at were inspired by historic events. “In England and Wales, 162 children were registered with the first name Jubilee in 1887.” Queen Victoria’s golden jubilee had been celebrated that year.

Smolenyak is the author of six books, including “Hey, America, Your Roots Are Showing”; “Who Do You Think You Are?” (a companion book to the TV series); and “In Search of Our Ancestors: 101 Inspiring Stories of Serendipity and Connection in Rediscovering Our Family History.” She also conducts forensic research for the Army, BIA, coroners, NCIS and the FBI.

Why not subscribe to her genealogy newsletter and be kept informed of interesting news and events? It’s as easy as providing your email address on her website. Also, any of her books would make excellent additions to anyone’s genealogy library.

Queries, as well as a general exchange of genealogical material that readers would like to share, will be printed in the column for free. Contact Joan Griffis by e-mailing

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