The Fromelles Genealogy Project: Reuniting WW1 Soldiers with their Families

The Fromelles Genealogy Project: Reuniting WW1 Soldiers with their Families

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by Michelle Leonard

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The Fromelles Genealogy Project: Reuniting WW1 Soldiers with their Families


In May 2008 250 WWI soldiers were uncovered in a mass grave in France and this led to the instigation of a ground-breaking project to uncover their identities via DNA testing, anthropological data and genealogical research. This presentation will tell the story of the Fromelles Project with a specific focus on how genealogical detective work has so far helped to identify 166 of the Fromelles soldiers and give them named graves in the first military cemetery to be built in France since WWII. It will also tell the stories of some of the fallen soldiers, introduce the "Commemorating The Missing" Project and give a brief explanation of how to research WW1 soldiers and trace DNA appropriate relatives.


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Presenter: Michelle Leonard

Michelle Leonard is a Scottish professional genealogist, genetic genealogist, freelance researcher, speaker, author and historian. She runs her own genealogy business, Genes & Genealogy, and specialises in DNA Detective work solving adoption and all manner of unknown ancestor mysteries with the use of DNA testing.  She also undertakes traditional family history research, living relative tracing, historical and television research, creating bespoke family history books. article and blog writing, tutoring, lecturing, webinars and speaking engagements. She is a regular speaker at major genealogy events such as Who Do You Think You Are? Live and Back To Our Past and is a co-author of "Tracing Your Ancestors Using DNA: A Guide For Family Historians" to be released in summer 2019.


Additionally Michelle is the official genetic genealogist of and is one of the hosts of the hour itself: #AncestryHour takes place on Twitter each Tuesday evening from 7-8pm GMT and Michelle is usually on hand to answer any #DNA queries that arise. She also spent several years working on the ground-breaking Fromelles Genealogy Project tracking down appropriate DNA donors to identify WWI soldiers buried in a mass grave in France and served as the Genealogical Consultant on the official Fromelles documentary. She regularly works on new historic soldier cases when battlefield remains are found and DNA testing is conducted.


Michelle holds an M.A. in English and Modern History from the University of St Andrews and a PgCert in Genealogical, Palaeographic and Heraldic Studies from the University of Strathclyde. She is a member of the Association of Professional Genealogists (APG), the Scottish Genealogy Network (SGN), the Society of Genealogists (SOG) and the International Society of Genetic Genealogy (ISOGG). You can find out more about Michelle on her Genes & Genealogy Facebook page and you can follow her on Twitter.

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