90.9 WBUR - Boston's NPR news station
Top Stories:
PLEDGE NOW
Crowdsourcing And The New Genealogy Boom

The genealogy craze meets crowdsourcing . Soon, you may be meeting your 17th cousin. Be prepared for surprises.

US first lady Michelle Obama, center, with her daughters Sasha, and Malia, second from the right, look through archives documenting the Obama's Irish Ancestry during their visit to the Old Library at Trinity College, in Dublin, Ireland, Monday, June 17, 2013. The first lady and her daughters were given a presentation on their own family genealogy and connection to Ireland. (AP)

US first lady Michelle Obama, center, with her daughters Sasha, and Malia, second from the right, look through archives documenting the Obama’s Irish Ancestry during their visit to the Old Library at Trinity College, in Dublin, Ireland, Monday, June 17, 2013. The first lady and her daughters were given a presentation on their own family genealogy and connection to Ireland. (AP)

Americans are crazy for genealogy.  For tracking down the family tree.  Back to the immigrant.  Back to the slave.  The native American.  Back to the stagecoach driver, the ship’s captain, the duke, the duchess, the great grandmother who sang in vaudeville.  A new generation of apps make it easier.  A new generation of algorithms is tying family trees together.  Letting you know you’re a seventeenth cousin once-removed to Daniel Boone or Malcolm X or Marie Antoinette – or the classmate who bugs you.  Then what? This hour On Point:  the new frontiers of genealogy.

– Tom Ashbrook

Guests

A.J. Jacobs, author and journalist. Author of “The Know-It-All,” “The Year of Living Biblically,” My Life As An Experiment” and ‘Drop Dead Healthy.”  (@ajjacobs)

Judy G. Russell, writer and genealogist. Blogger at “The Legal Genealogist.”

Spencer Wells, geneticist and director of the Genographic Project at National Geographic.

From Tom’s Reading List

New York Times:  Are You My Cousin? – “My family tree sprawls far and wide. It’s not even a tree, really. More like an Amazonian forest. At last count, it was up to nearly 75 million family members. In fact, there’s a good chance you’re on some far-flung branch of my tree, and if you aren’t, you probably will be soon. It’s not really my tree. It’s our tree.”

The Verge: Who am I? Data and DNA answer one of life’s big questions — “Taking a peek into the past now requires nothing more than a decent internet connection and a laptop. DNA testing, which just a few years ago cost thousands of dollars and offered little information for genealogists, is now a growing consumer option, reaching back hundreds of years to provide undreamed of amounts of information about our ancestors.”

The Desert News: Gaming for genealogy: Helping bring genealogy to a digital generation –“One of Taylor’s most compelling arguments for introducing gaming to genealogy was that current family history methods need to speak to a ‘new generation of genealogists.’ The upcoming generation has been involved in the digital world since birth, and many of them have hardly any experience with physical records.”

Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on this site.
ONPOINT
TODAY
Mar 4, 2015
Hillary Rodham Clinton speaks during a keynote address at the Watermark Silicon Valley Conference for Women, Tuesday, Feb. 24, 2015, in Santa Clara, Calif.  (AP)

Hillary Clinton’s week of bad headlines: about her emails and foreign money going to the Clinton Foundation. We’ll dig in.

Mar 4, 2015
This photo taken July 31, 2012 shows a "tiny" house April Anson built in Portland, Ore. For the past couple of months, 33-year-old Anson and her friends have been planning, measuring, sawing and hammering their way toward completion of what might look like a child’s playhouse. (AP)

Tiny houses, micro-apartments. They’re hot. Americans are downsizing.

RECENT
SHOWS
Mar 3, 2015
This July 21, 2014 photo shows strawberry banana chia breakfast smoothie in Concord, N.H. Breakfast habits in America are changing, leading to dramatic shifts in business strategy. (AP)

Food guidelines are changing. So is what we eat for breakfast. Cereal? Out of favor. Eggs? Maybe OK. And all kinds of new menus. We’ll look at Americans and breakfast.

 
Mar 3, 2015
A group of community activists in San Francisco, CA celebrate that city's February 2014 embrace of the Fair Chance Campaign's efforts to alter background checks on employment and housing for convicted criminals. (Courtesy All of Us Or None)

Is it time to stop asking job applicants if they’ve been convicted of a crime? We’ll look at employment and unemployment after prison.

On Point Blog
On Point Blog
Answers To Your Questions On Black Holes
Tuesday, Mar 3, 2015

Yale University’s Priyamvada Natarajan answers your black hole questions in full. (Well, most of them.)

More »
Comment
 
Want To Listen To Lead Belly? Here’s Where To Start
Monday, Mar 2, 2015

Loved our show on Lead Belly, but unsure on where you should start to listen? Jeff Place of the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage offers his best picks for a beginning Lead Belly listener.

More »
Comment
 
Our Week In The Web: February 27, 2015
Friday, Feb 27, 2015

We won’t lead you into a debate on the color of #TheDress (it’s blue and black, end of debate), but we do wonder about the blurring lines between so-called Internet culture and general popular culture. Also, it’s snowing in Boston. Still.

More »
Comment