In her new book, American Tapestry: The Story of the Black, White, and Multiracial Ancestors of Michelle Obama, author Rachel L. Swarns unravels the fascinating story of the first lady's multiracial ancestry. She puts together the pieces of Michelle Obama's lineage by solving missing links and discovering surprising relatives, including the first lady's white great-great-great-grandfather. Here are some of the ancestors featured in the book.
Henry Wells Shields, the owner of Mrs. Obama's great-great-great-grandmother Melvinia Shields, is the elderly man with the beard. DNA testing and research points to Henry's son, Charles Marion Shields, as the father of Melvinia's son, Dolphus. That would make Charles Mrs. Obama's great-great-great-grandfather. Charles is the third man standing from the right.
Tombstone of Henry Wells Shields, who owned Dolphus and Melvinia Shields, Mrs. Obama's ancestors.
Tombstone of Charles Marion Shields, the son of the slave owner.
Dolphus Shields and his extended family.
Pearl Lewis (left), the daughter of Dolphus Shields, who was born into slavery.
Dolphus Shields: businessman, homeowner, church deacon and great-great-grandfather of Mrs. Obama.
Dolphus Shields, the great-great-grandfather of Mrs. Obama, and his son, Willy.
Jewell Barclay, a descendant of Melvinia Shield’s biracial son, Dolphus Shields. He was born into slavery.
Francesca Gray, the paternal aunt of Mrs. Obama.
Phoebe Moten Johnson, the great-grandmother of Michelle Obama.
Mary Moten, the great-great-grandmother of Michelle Obama.
Joan Tribble, a descendant of the slave owner who owned Mrs. Obama's great-great-great-grandmother Melvinia Shields.
Fraser Robinson II, the great-grandfather of Michelle Obama.
First lady Michelle Obama as a baby with her parents and older brother.