Megan Smolenyak to speak!

You may know her as the lead researcher for the PBS Ancestors series where she delved into over 5,000 genealogical stories and developed much of the content for the companion website. She has subsequently consulted for other television programs, including They Came to America and African American Lives for PBS, and BBC’s Timewatch (regarding the identification of sailors’ remains recovered from the USS Monitor).

The Library will be hosting an all-day program scheduled for Saturday, October 18th from 9 AM to 4 PM with Ms. Smolenyak as the featured speaker. The event, ‘Genealogy for the 21st Century: DNA Research & Roots Television’, will be held in the ballroom of Embassy Suites Hotel on Monroe Street. The cost is $45 per person for those who pre-register by August 31st. The charge will increase to $50 per person for the month of September. Deadline for ALL registrations is September 30th. Seating for the event IS LIMITED to the first 130 people to sign up and lunch is NOT INCLUDED in the ticket price. Also, copies of Megan’s books will be on sale.

To sign up for what promises to be a highly informative event, reservations are being taken in person through the Administration Office on third floor of the Main Library or by filling out the form below and mailing it to the Huntsville-Madison County Public Library, DNA Research Seminar, 915 Monroe Street, Huntsville, AL 35801. Reservation fees MUST be paid in advance. This in one program you don’t want to miss!

Megan has been an avid genealogist since the 6th grade and is skilled in many aspects of family history research. Her writings include such titles as Honoring Our Ancestors: Inspiring Stories of the Quest for Our Roots, In Search of Our Ancestors: 101 Inspiring Stories of Serendipity and Connection in Rediscovering Our Family History, and They Came to America: Finding Your Immigrant Ancestors, all of which can be found in the collection of the Huntsville Heritage Room. Trace Your Roots with DNA: Using Genetic Tests to Explore Your Family Tree, her latest book (co-authored with Ann Turner, M.D.), has been featured in Newsweek, The New York Times, on NPR, and in the Book of the Month Club. Megan herself has appeared on Good Morning America, the Today Show, CNN, BBC Breakfast, Ancestors, TimeWatch, NPR, BBC Radio and a number of local television and radio shows, and has spoken at the National Genealogical Society, Federation of Genealogical Societies, Who Do You Think You Are LIVE! and numerous other genealogical, historical, military, ethnic and literary events.

She made news recently with an interesting Irish connection when she traced a branch of Barack Obama’s family to Moneygall in County Offaly and made another startling connection when requested by Austin Fenner of the New York Daily News to research the roots of Rev. Al Sharpton. Much to her astonishment, she learned that Rev. Sharpton's great-grandfather had been owned by relatives of Strom Thurmond. After she walked him through his family tree, she traveled with him to Edgefield, SC to see first-hand the plantation and slave quarters (still standing) where his family had lived and the slave cemetery where some of his family is likely buried. She currently serves as Chief Family Historian and North American spokesperson for Ancestry.com, the largest genealogical company in the world and is also co-founder of Roots Television, a pioneering and popular online channel of genealogy and history-oriented programming.

Since 2000, Megan has also been a consultant with the U.S. Army's Repatriation project to trace families of servicemen killed or MIA in Korea, WWII and Vietnam. The intent is to develop a DNA-database from relatives' blood samples so that remains that are now being repatriated can be identified and interred. She has supported this and more than 75 other genealogical initiatives through her 'Honoring Our Ancestors Grants Program'.

Recipient of International Society of Family History Writers and Editors awards in 2003, 2004 and 2005, Megan has written articles for Ancestry, Ancestry Daily News, Family Chronicle, Family Tree Magazine, Genealogical Computing, Heritage Quest, NGS News Magazine, Everton's Family History Magazine and APG Quarterly. She's a former board member of the Association of Professional Genealogists (APG) and is also delighted to be the 2004-2005 winner of the Bo Peep Award, given by the International Black Sheep Society of Genealogists to those who have "contributed significantly to the betterment of the community of historical and genealogical researchers." Formerly an international marketing consultant, she has traveled to more than 70 countries and holds a BSFS in Foreign Service from Georgetown University, MBA in International Business from George Washington University and MAS in Information Technology from Johns Hopkins University.