Megan Smolenyak Smolenyak (yes, that’s her real name) has just published her most recent book, “Hey, America, Your Roots Are Showing: Adventures in Discovering News-Making Connections, Unexpected Ancestors, Long-Hidden Secrets, and Solving Historical Puzzles.” It has already received praise from many noted researchers, including Dr. Henry Louis Gates Jr., Harvard professor and host of the PBS television series, “African American Lives and Faces of America.” He wrote in the foreword of the book that it is “essential reading for all of us who love family history.”

Smolenyak points out that genealogical research is “constantly evolving” and some of the newer tools include social networking and DNA testing. Her book includes more than 20 of her favorite investigations and illustrates the many ingenious methods she has employed to get over stumbling blocks that many of us also face in our personal research.

Her research into Michelle Obama’s slave ancestry points out that many important records cannot be found on the Internet, but digging into original records can be most productive. President Obama’s connections to celebrities’ roots are interesting and can also be done. Her book includes some information on adoption research and she shares some of her “more memorable immigrant finds.”

She makes a plea for others to be involved in her Unclaimed Persons Project by assisting local agencies involved in finding kin of deceased persons. (As of this book’s publication, 240 cases have been solved.) But more important, “Keep in touch with each other” so that no relative or friend will “join the ranks of the unclaimed.”

“Hey, America, Your Roots Are Showing,” published by Citadel Press, Kensington Publishing Corp., is a 256-page, indexed, sof tcover book that can be purchased at local bookstores or ordered online from Amazon or Barnes & Noble at $15.95.

Smolenyak’s previous book, “Who Do You Think You Are,” is a companion book to the TV series by that name. (Have you been watching the present series?) It covers everything a beginning genealogist needs to know about finding family records. Even more advanced researchers will be amazed at how much the author covers. Visit Smolenyak’s website at Her new website at also has a new video.

As one who has attended Smolenyak’s workshops and even met her personally, I cannot praise her works more highly. You won’t be disappointed if you plan to attend any event at which she is speaking and/or buy her informative publications. She says, “If you go back far enough we’re all cousins.” I’m glad she is one of mine.

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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