Ancestry Appoints Megan Smolenyak as Chief Family Historian

Megan Smolenyak.JPGI am thrilled to see this press release from Ancestry this morning! Congratulations Megan and welcome to the team! 



PROVO, UTAH – January 23, 2007 –, the world’s largest online family history resource, today announced the appointment of Megan Smolenyak as Chief Family Historian.

Ms. Smolenyak, an award-winning professional and author/co-author of four books, has an impressive background in the family history industry with several decades of experience. Ms. Smolenyak most recently rewrote history by uncovering the true story of Annie Moore, the first immigrant to come through Ellis Island.

 “We couldn’t be more pleased to expand our relationship with Megan and have her join our stellar research team led by noted Loretto Dennis Szucs (Lou),” said Tim Sullivan, CEO of The Generations Network, parent company of “With Lou and Megan together, we are proud to have two of the most well-recognized authorities on board. Lou and Megan both bring unique talents to the table and the combination of their efforts creates an unrivaled team. Megan has an unmatched mix of knowledge in both traditional and DNA family history research. Coupled with her ability to effectively communicate and evangelize the category, she has a natural talent for genuinely inspiring and motivating people when she talks about family history.”

As the Chief Family Historian, Ms. Smolenyak will participate in various roles for the company. She will serve as a key researcher for major company campaigns, participate in marketing, provide input into the design of new family history products and services, as well as serve as an expert and spokesperson on family history to the media.

“ is the clear leader in the family history category and accepting a role like this is an amazing opportunity,” said Megan Smolenyak, Chief Family Historian, “There has never been a better time for the family history category. As continues to fuel the trend and catapult the category into the mainstream, I look forward to working with Lou Szucs and the team to help increase awareness of the magic of family history.”

As Executive Editor and Vice President of Community Relations for, Ms. Szucs will continue to manage community relations, building relationships with key experts in the field and establishing strategic partnerships.

“I have known and worked with Megan for years and am delighted that she has accepted this position with,” said Loretto Dennis Szucs, also noted co-editor of The Source: A Guidebook to American Genealogy, “Genealogy is a true passion of mine and I enjoy nothing more than working with people like Megan, who share the enthusiasm and truly understand the power and connection that is found by digging up stories and details about one’s past. I look forward to collaborating with her as we continue to provide resources so that more and more people can realize the excitement of discovering and preserving their own family stories.”

First inspired to pursue genealogy as a career by a 6th grade family history assignment, Ms. Smolenyak has served in a number of capacities during her years as a professional genealogist. As the lead researcher for the PBS Ancestors series, Ms. Smolenyak researched over 5,000 genealogical stories and has subsequently consulted for other television programs, including PBS’s award-winning They Came to America and BBC’s Timewatch, regarding the identification of sailors’ remains recovered from the USS Monitor.

Since in 2000, Ms. Smolenyak has worked closely with writing articles for the company’s publications, including the Ancestry Weekly Journal and Ancestry Magazine, and most recently serving as’s spokesperson on Good Morning America’s “Our Family Tree” series. On Good Morning America, Ms. Smolenyak presented the anchors, including Diane Sawyer, with their family trees and stories about their families’ histories.

She is the author of 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, along with publishing a number of articles in magazines, newsletters, etc. She is co-founder of Roots Television, a pioneering and popular online channel of genealogy and history-oriented programming.

An expert on DNA genealogy research, Ms. Smolenyak’s latest book, co-authored with Ann Turner, M.D., is called Trace Your Roots with DNA: Using Genetic Tests to Explore Your Family Tree. Since 2000, Ms. Smolenyak 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. She has supported this and more than 75 other genealogical initiatives through the Honoring Our Ancestors Grants Program. Ms. Smolenyak is also a recipient of a number of awards, including International Society of Family History Writers and Editors awards in 2003, 2004 and 2005.

With more than 5 billion names and 23,000 searchable databases and titles, is the No. 1 online source for family history information. Since its launch almost a decade ago, has been the premier resource for family history, simplifying genealogical research for millions of people by providing them with many easy-to-use tools and resources to build their own unique family trees. is part of The Generations Network, a leading network of sites whose mission is to connect families across distance and time. The Generations Network receives more than 9 million unique visitors worldwide and 450 million page views each month (© comScore Media Metrix, September 2006).

Media Contacts
Julia Burgon
Coltrin & Associates for
212-221-1616 ext. 124

10 thoughts on “Ancestry Appoints Megan Smolenyak as Chief Family Historian

  1. I’m sorry, but I don’t see the link between Megan and the photo of the chap with the dogs (click on her photo). Is this some kind of a prank??

  2. No prank. I just took a shortcut that didn’t quite work out. Rather than browsing through the library of photos I have loaded on WordPress, I thought I could cheat and just use an old link, but I missed a step for the link to the full image. It’s fixed now.

    BTW, the chap with the dogs is my hubby and those are my baby dogs. 🙂

    Sorry for the confusion,

  3. Thank you for the article in latest Ancesty Megan and her search for her family I always wondered how she ended up with very unusal maiden then married name. I have friends that are Davis Davis or Clark Clark but Megan is one in ? Thanks for the info,I can now stop scatching my head.

  4. Congratulations to Megan from New Zealand. A position well earned and deserved. I enjoy immensly the articles she writes on her family searches. She has the ability of making the people come alive and leaves me wanting to find out more. She is a great asset to ancestry and we can do with a few more like her.

  5. Heard and talked with Megan at New Jersey seminar. Hoefully she will continueto visit th speaker’s circuit from time to time as she is now only knowledgable but quite articulate. Good for you – Ancestry!

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  8. I was at the Auckland Genealogy Congress and was extremely impressed by Megan. I do hope that, in Adelaide at the next Congress, I will have the chance to hear the latest developments in this field of endeavour.

    I wonder if you could pass a request along to Megan for me: I have spoken to my brother (one of only three eligible men from my grandfather’s very extensive number of descendants) and he will provide me with DNA for a genealogy test.

    I would be very grateful if Megan would suggest to me (not a recommendation, I know) the ‘best’ service to use to get a good spread of y-DNA results, as discussed in her papers. I have in train the purchase of her ‘Trace your Roots through DNA’ and do expect to be able to understand the results of the test/tests.

    Sincerely Carol Cowan

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