JTA Twitter 50: Jennifer Mendelsohn


Jennifer Mendelsohn@CleverTitleTK

Not so long ago, journalist Jennifer Mendelsohn saw genealogy as a hobby she practiced for family and friends seeking their biological parents. Then Donald Trump became president.

When Trump’s advisers and supporters began proposing limits on immigration, Mendelsohn exposed their own immigrant family histories. Using public records, genealogy sites and old census data, Mendelsohn found, for example, that Trump adviser Stephen Miller’s great-grandmother didn’t speak English (Miller advocates prioritizing English-speaking immigrants).


She also unearthed the fact that Dan Scavino, who called for an end to “chain migration” (or immigrant families bringing over their relatives), had a grandfather who benefitted from that very practice.


Mendelsohn calls the project Resistance Genealogy and showcases it on Twitter. She hopes to show, using hard data, that the United States is a nation of immigrants. She calls her own family lineage a “classic Eastern European Jewish immigrant story” and says it shows that unskilled immigrants can have children and grandchildren who end up getting doctorates.


Sometimes she aims for targets lower than senior White House officials. In early October, Mendelsohn tracked down the ancestors of a woman who berated customers in a grocery store for speaking Spanish. Turns out the woman’s forebears were from Germany and France.


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