Genealogy and Making a Difference – The DAR’s New Chapter and Megan Smolenyak’s New Book

Sometimes I worry if all the time I spend on genealogy really matters. When I am at the end of my life, will the late nights, weekends and vacation time I have devoted to genealogy truly have made any difference in the world?  This last week I saw a few examples where I think genealogy has not only influenced how people see themselves, but where it is making a change in the present.

DAR – Changing Hearts & Minds

Did you know that approximately 5,000 Revolutionary patriots were black? With the exponential effect of descendants, that means that their progeny could have quite a presence in the Daughters of the American Revolution.   However, the DAR has been fighting a bad reputation since Marian Anderson was prohibited from singing at the  DAR’s Constitution Hall in 1939.  And though the DAR has had other issues over the years that have discouraged women of color from joining, that finally seems to be changing. A new chapter in Queens, New York has a black founding Regent and 5 of the 13 members are also black. A fine day for the DAR and I hope an inspiration for others to join. The history of America is a rich tapestry of contributions of many different ethnic and religious people.  Their courage and patriotism deserves to be honored and remembered. History tells the story, but genealogy connects it to us personally.   The article in the NY Times can be found here.

Megan Smolenyak’s Hey, America Your Roots are Showing

Megan Smolenyak is the closest thing we have to a “genealogist celebrity.”  When the media needs some research done on President Obama, they called Megan. However, that is only a small part of her contributions to the craft. In her book, she tells stories about helping to discover the descendants of POW/MIA soldiers who have been found in foreign lands, assisting adopted adult children connect with their birth families, returning artifacts back to their families and other tales of genealogical kindness.  I encourage you to read the book.  You will enjoy her creative problem solving methods and see how genealogy reconnects people…and when all is said and done, connecting people is what really matters after all.

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3 Responses to Genealogy and Making a Difference – The DAR’s New Chapter and Megan Smolenyak’s New Book

  1. Rachelle, you have such a gift for writing. I have wondered the same thing, but one day was reading part of the Bible where it lists generations of men by name, who begat who, over and over, and I thought genealogy must be worthy as more than a hobby because God saw fit to put family trees in the Bible many times. As I learn more about my ancestors, the obstacles they overcame, the faith that sustained and gave them courage, it inspires me to pass on their legacies to my own family, to consciously try to impart lessons and values at opportune times, who we have come from, to pass the torch of hope, grace, and meaningful life to our children. And of course, there is the thrill of the hunt! I love your blog!

    • Rachelle says:

      You are right, the Bible is one of the first genealogy books! Knowing where we come from grounds us, just as faith can…guess it’s not surprising it is found in the Bible.

      Thank you for such kind words about my writing.

  2. Val says:

    Reblogged this on Sotto Voce and commented:
    I have these same thoughts: without children of my own, who will really care about the research, writing and chronicling of my family’s history.

    But then I remember: my cousins have children and we share a common ancestral line. This is my contribution, my legacy. And too, I believe every person in America has a story worth hearing. I can help others hear the stories of my family.

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