Give Me Your Wired, Your Poor



According to a 1995 poll, more than 113 million Americans are researching their family histories. Presumably, the others are put off by the hobby’s side effects: nausea induced by hours spent staring at microfilm, and vacation time eaten up traveling to out-of-state libraries for research. Now the Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation has a way to save them at least one trip and a couple of packets of Alka-Seltzer.

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Tracking Your Family Through Time And Technology

Genealogy is vastly different today from just a generation ago. Here’s what the changes mean to you.

The most intimate of history is connected to the grandest. When you think of genealogy and your own family’s history, you can’t help but think of the events that shaped the lives of all our ancestors: war, religion, and, above all, technological change. Technology fueled the endless migrations of the last centuries, atomizing communities and even families. And now technology is bringing rhem, living and dead, back together again. Read more »



In 1916, when Margaret Morris was a little girl living in Washington, D.C., she lost her family and they lost her. First her mother died at the age of forty-one. Then her father, uncles, aunts, sister, brothers, cousins, and even grandmother vanished. This family cleaving left in its turbulent wake a frightened four-year-old who would become my mother. Read more »

Life With My Ancestors

Walter Cronkite , news commentator: Shortly after the turn of this century a woman who represented herself as a genealogist advertised for anyone bearing the name Cronk, Kronk, Kronkhite, Cronkhite, or several other variations to get in touch with her immediately. She claimed to have knowledge of a longlost will in the Netherlands leaving a considerable estate to the seventh son of the seventh son of one of the original Krankheidt settlers of Manhattan.Read more »

The Best Background

When it comes to genealogical pride, there’s nothing to equal the modest satisfaction of a slightly threadbare, socially impregnable New Englander. A canny guide to the subtle distinctions of America’s most rarefied society.

New England snobbism is based on a regional reverence for that which is old. And as John Gould once wrote, “It takes considerable art to be snobbish without appearing so.” Thus the perfection of a devastating little sign you will see as you enter or leave the old shipbuilding town of Thomaston, Maine. It reads, “Thomaston, 1605.” Read more »

Genealogy The Search For A Personal Past

A once laughable pursuit is now seen by historians as a serious way to explore where we came from and who we are

The stereotype of the genealogist has long been a familiar one in American popular culture. Like the Ichabod Crane schoolmaster and the prissy librarian, the genealogist was a specific type, easily recognizable and faintly ridiculous. She was the elderly lady in comfortable shoes examining musty records in search of enough cerulean in her veins to permit her to snub her neighbors with a clear conscience.Read more »

Thomas Jefferson’s Unknown Grandchildren


Although he married only once, Thomas Jefferson had two families. The first was by his wife, Martha Wayles Jefferson; the second, after her death, was by her young half sister, Jefferson’s quadroon slave Sally Hemings. This was known and eagerly publicized by the anti-Jefferson press during his first term as President. Despite pleas of Republican editors to deny the liaison, Jefferson maintained then, and thereafter to his death, a tight-lipped silence. Read more »