Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Obama, Palin, Coulter, and Reid

According to the AP
A genealogist at the Utah-based, Anastasia Tyler, said Obama and Palin are 10th cousins through a common ancestor named John Smith, a pastor and early settler in 17th-century Massachusetts. Obama is related to Smith through his mother, as is Palin, Tyler said.
And one other thing from It also found that Palin is distant cousins with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and conservative author and pundit Ann Coulter, through John Lathrop, who was exiled to the United States from England for being a pastor of an illegal independent church.
 The article points out a few other celebrity relationships.

Two major annoyances

1) Anastasia Tyler is NOT a genealogist.  She is a PR manager.
There is a difference, and since every article seems to call her a genealogist, I suspect she refers to herself as one in her press release. (Unsure, as the press release doesn't appear to be online.)

2) Never do these stories explain *how* the individuals are related beyond their common ancestor.  This makes the information completely useless to most people interested in family history.  It only is of interest to those who care which celebrities are related to which other celebrities, and don't care how.  Of course, it also means we can't check their work and prove them wrong.  Which might be why doesn't release that information.


Thomas MacEntee said...

A link to the press release is here:,1500090.html

It isn't for me to say whether or not Anastasia is a genealogist, perhaps she is and also happens to be a PR staff member at Ancestry. I note that the term "professional genealogist" was not used. Many folks consider themselves genealogists while having a wide range of experience in the field.

John said...

Thanks for the link.

I agree that Anastasia Tyler may think of herself as a genealgist...but her bio on doesn't mention being one, and for the press release to refer to her as one, is misleading.

Especially since the press release discusses "Ancestry researchers" made the discovery and then refers to Tyler as a genealogist, most readers will connect the dots and assume she was one of the researchers. I suspect she wasn't.

Now that ProGenealogists is a part of, I'd enjoy hearing from them what their role in this research was.

Tamura Jones said...


Glad to see I am not the only one who thinks that press releases should use an employee's actual job title.
This particular claim might be true, but how can we believe Ancestry PR releases after Tyler's fantastical Dracula claims?
Why does PR merely make a claim without citing any source? This is bad genealogy that hurts's reputation with genealogists. It is also a missed opportunity to highlight some of the records the site offers...

P.S. The press release: Reveals Midterm Election Connections: President Obama Related to Palin and Limbaugh