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Megan Smolenyak Smolenyak—Genealogist, Cold-Case Researcher

Andrea KaySpecialities: Genealogy, history, forensics, celebrity roots
Home base: Haddonfield, New Jersey
Web sites: www.megansmolenyak.com, www.honoringourancestors.com

Megan Smolenyak Smolenyak (yes, that's her real name) is a genealogical adventurer who loves solving mysteries, making unexpected discoveries and pushing the boundaries of conventional genealogy. A popular writer, speaker and TV guest, Megan has appeared onGood Morning America, The Today Show, The Early Show, CNN, NPR and BBC. In addition to consulting on shows ranging from Who Do You Think You Are? to Top Chef, she is a cold-case researcher for the Army, NCIS and the FBI, a seasoned speaker (40 states and half a dozen countries to date), a Huffington Post contributor and former Chief Family Historian and spokesperson for Ancestry.com. The most recent of her six books are Hey, America, Your Roots Are Showing, Who Do You Think You Are?: The Essential Guide to Tracing Your Family History (the companion guide to the TV series) and Trace Your Roots with DNA, the best-selling, how-to book on genetic genealogy, co-authored with Ann Turner, M.D.

Megan Smolenyak,Roots Are ShowingA real-life history detective, Megan’s best-known discoveries including:

· Uncovering Michelle Obama’s roots (as featured on the front page of The New York Times) and tracing Barack Obama’s roots to Moneygall, County Offaly, Ireland (where he subsequently raised a pint in the pub)
· Providing a decade of forensic consulting services to the U.S. Army to locate thousands of family members of soldiers still unaccounted for from WWI, WWII, Korea and Southeast Asia
· Celebrity roots as featured on assorted TV shows (including Martha Stewart, Stephen Colbert, Brooke Shields, Cory Booker, Susan Sarandon, Emmitt Smith, Richard Blais) and in her writings (Betty White, Katy Perry, Joe Biden, Beyoncée, Julia Roberts, Josh Groba and Pink, among others)
· Correcting history by revealing the true Annie Moore, the first immigrant through Ellis Island (as featured on the front page of The New York Times)
· Using her sleuthing skills to help coroners locate the next of kin for unclaimed persons and establishing a group of volunteers to tackle this quiet epidemic.

Formerly an international management consultant, Megan has traveled to more than 80 countries and holds degrees in Foreign Service (Georgetown University), International Business (George Washington University) and Information Technology (Johns Hopkins University). Megan also welcomes inquiries regarding private client research. (Makes a great gift for milestone birthdays and anniversaries and other special events such as bat mitvahs and retirements.)

Suggested Topics

  • Hey, America, Your Roots Are Showing (history mysteries)
  • Michelle Obama’s Roots
  • Right Annie, Wrong Annie (Annie Moore of Ellis Island)
  • Trace Your Roots with DNA
  • Celebrity Roots
  • Neglected History

Sample Videos








What People Say About Megan Smolenyak2

“Watch out Watson and Crick! Megan Smolenyak decodes our fascinating, complicated past in this tour de force of detective work.”
—Ken Burns, documentary filmmaker

“Megan is a genealogist’s dream, a forensic investigator who can also tell a great story.”
Sam Roberts, The New York Times

“Megan is a blessing to cold-case detectives and a master genealogist.”
—Julie M. Haney, special agent, NCIS Cold Case Homicide Unit

“The Indiana Jones of genealogy... Megan Smolenyak is a national treasure.”
—Buzzy Jackson, author of Shaking the Family Tree

“Megan...is, hands down, America’s greatest genealogist, and this book is proof of it.”
—Andrew Carroll, editor of The New York Times best-sellers War Letters and Behind the Lines

“Thank you for taking the time to lay out our family map... You're practically family. You certainly know more about us than we do.”
—Stephen Colbert, host of Comedy Central’s The Colbert Report

“Megan Smolenyak is the genealogist's genealogist—the go-to person for building your family tree and solving stubborn historical mysteries.”
—Dr. Spencer Wells, Director of the Genographic Project, National Geographic