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Check If You Were Related to a Pilgrim, the Easy Way

500K names included in new online database

(Newser) - Discovering if you're descended from the Pilgrims is "easier than ever." A new database offers for the first time online records on more than 59,450 fifth-generation descendants of the small group who sailed to the New World aboard the Mayflower in 1620. Of the roughly 132... More »

Serial Killer Case Highlights Concern of DNA Websites

Privacy advocates say people's health and family histories are vulnerable to prying eyes

(Newser) - Investigators who used a genealogical website to find the ex-policeman they believe is a serial killer and rapist who terrified California decades ago call the technique groundbreaking. But others say it raises troubling legal and privacy concerns for the millions of people who submit their DNA to such sites to... More »

DNA on a Genealogy Website Helped Snare Golden State Killer

Distant relative of suspect submitted sample

(Newser) - A distant relative of Joseph James DeAngelo hoping to learn more about their family submitted a DNA sample to a genealogy website. They now know that they're related to a suspected serial killer. Police say they tracked the suspected Golden State Killer by comparing DNA from one of his... More »

Meghan Markle's Ancestor Beheaded by Harry's Kin

And family tree reveals a great-great-great-grandfather was a slave in Georgia

(Newser) - Meghan Markle's family tree has shown that beau Prince Harry is a distant cousin (they share an ancestor dating back to the 15th century), but there's a darker revelation: One of her ancestors was beheaded on the orders of Henry VIII. Lord John Hussey was born around 1465,... More »

One Last Hope for Learning Identity of 'Precious Jane Doe'

Snohomish County, Wash., detectives hope genealogy sites can help

(Newser) - She's called "Snohomish County's precious Jane Doe" by one of the Washington state detectives on the case, and the how and the whodunit of her death have long been established. David Roth spent nearly three decades in prison for killing the young woman, a hitchhiker he picked... More »

Larry David Reveals Surprise Connection to Bernie Sanders

Sanders is a 'third cousin or something'

(Newser) - Larry David got some pretty ( pretty, pretty, pretty ) good genealogy news recently, NBC News reports. The Seinfeld creator already shared a strange resemblance with Sen. Bernie Sanders—playing him on Saturday Night Live to great acclaim—and now it turns out they have another connection as well. At... More »

Woman Claims to Be Member of Lost Tribe

But geneticists say that's impossible to prove in regard to the Beothuk

(Newser) - The Beothuk, an Indigenous tribe that lived in Canada, came to an end in 1829 with the death of its last member. Or did it? CBC reports a 55-year-old woman from North Carolina says she and her family are long-lost members of the Beothuk tribe, and she has the DNA... More »

Suspected Serial Killer Doomed by Genealogy-Curious Relative

Forensic genealogy is a new tool for law enforcement

(Newser) - The man police say is Arizona's "Canal Killer," who killed two women—beheading one of them—in the early 1990s, was caught in large part because some relative of his somewhere submitted their DNA to one of those public genealogy databases, the Arizona Republic reports. Suspect Bryan... More »

Historians Say They've Found Leonardo da Vinci's Relatives

It only took 43 years

(Newser) - After four decades of searching, two Italian historians revealed 35 people likely to be living descendants of Leonardo da Vinci, the BBC reports. "Obviously I’m surprised, but happy," the Guardian quotes one such possible relative, architect Elena Calosi, as saying. "Who has not studied Leonardo or... More »

Holocaust Survivor's Search for Lost Twin Goes Viral

Genealogist hoping Facebook can help locate 'Jolli'

(Newser) - Menachem Bodner doesn't remember the horrors he suffered as an experiment subject of Dr. Josef Mengele at Auschwitz. But he knows he had a twin brother, and deep down always believed he was alive somewhere. Now, thanks to help from a genealogist, the 72-year-old has proof his brother, Jolli,... More »

Obama Roots Traced to 1st African-American Slave genealogists spent 500 hours making the connection

(Newser) - has traced President Obama's roots back to Germany and linked him to Rush Limbaugh . Now the site has named a new potential Obama relative: the first documented African-American slave. CNN reports on the result of some 500 hours of work by four genealogists, who were able to... More »

1940 Census Site Crashed By Curious

New data dump proves too popular for its own good with 22.5 million hits

(Newser) - The National Archives wasn't prepared for just how many people would be clamoring to check out its newly released trove of detailed data from the 1940 census . Hordes of curious browsers flooded the site within minutes of its launch yesterday, overwhelming the servers and leaving it essentially unusable, the... More »

DNA Ties 1991 Murder to 17th-Century Family

Police believe results will narrow search for Sarah Yarborough's killer

(Newser) - In December, stumped Washington state authorities sent a DNA sample from an unsolved 1991 murder to a forensic consultant in California—and though she didn't return with a match to the murderer himself, she did figure out who his 17th-century ancestors were. The DNA profile closely matched the family... More »

Scott Brown Is Obama's Cousin

Both their mothers descended from 17th-century Massachusetts man

(Newser) - A genealogy group has discovered that Barack Obama has an unlikely branch on the right wing of his family tree—Massachusetts senator-elect Scott Brown is his 10th cousin through a 17th-century Bay State ancestor from whom both men's mothers descended. The New England Historic Genealogical Society had previously found the... More »

Meet Michelle Obama's White 4th Cousin

First Lady and Debbie Shields share great, great-grandfather

(Newser) - Some long-lost relatives of Michelle Obama have recently been identified, and they’re blond and blue-eyed. First a genealogist made headlines with the news that the first lady's great, great-grandmother was a slave from George named Melvinia. Inside Edition now reports on tonight's show that Melvinia was impregnated at 15... More »

Genealogists Trace Obama's Roots to Germany

(Newser) - President Obama’s trip to Germany is a bit of a homecoming for him, according to a Utah-based genealogy group.’s researchers traced his family tree back to his eighth great-grandfather on his mother’s side and found a German ancestor, after tracing , the Salt Lake Tribune reports.... More »

DNA Tests Solve Man's 26-Year Search for His Dad

Testing helped adopted man discover his birth father through his surname

(Newser) - A Michigan man's decades-long search for his biological father was fulfilled with an assist from DNA-based genealogy tests, the Wall Street Journal reports. Richard Hill—who didn't know he was adopted until his adoptive father revealed the truth from his deathbed—discovered his birth mother's identity fairly easily but hit... More »

Posh Related to Marx Comrade

Revolutionary who fled to England is Victoria Beckham's great-great-great-grandfather

(Newser) - Victoria Beckham’s girl-power roots go a lot further back than her Spice Girls days: The pop icon is the great-great-great-granddaughter of a 19th-century communist who worked with Karl Marx, Reuters reports. A German historian discovered the link between Posh and revolutionary Carl Heinrich Pfaender who was chummy with Marx... More »

Aussie PM Gains Cachet From Thieving Ancestors

Preteen convict adorns Rudd's family tree

(Newser) - Australia’s history as a penal colony is no laughing matter, but some Aussies have come to appreciate, and even relish, their hardscrabble beginnings. Case in point: PM Kevin Rudd, whose family tree includes ancestors convicted of stealing sugar (in 1801) and underwear (in 1788). The release of some details... More »

Candidates' Family Trees Have Far-Flung Limbs

Jolie-Pitt family could be split by ties to Clinton, Obama, genealogist finds

(Newser) - The Angelina Jolie-Brad Pitt household might have trouble choosing a Democratic candidate: It turns out Barack Obama is a distant cousin of Pitt’s and Hillary Clinton is a relative of Jolie’s. The author of a new genealogical survey cautions voters not to be too swayed—but it seems... More »

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