Steve Little’s Bio Blurb

Steve Little is the AI Program Director for the National Genealogical Society and the founder of AI Genealogy Insights.

As the AI Program Director for the National Genealogical Society, I research AI tools for genealogical use, develop educational programs about AI in genealogy, advise our team on AI-related matters, lead creation of guidelines for ethical AI use in genealogy, and produce various content like courses and articles on the topic. It’s all about integrating AI into family history research.

I trace my deep roots to one Appalachian county, where, by 1820, all 32 of my 3rd-great-grandparents had settled—many even earlier than that. In fact, 60 of my most recent ancestors were all born, lived, and died there, in Ashe County, NC. My passion lies in AI & genetic genealogy: with a keen interest in endogamy, pedigree collapse, and the art of deciphering multiple relationships through DNA segment triangulation, and an insatiable curiosity to explore beneficial uses and current limits of artificial intelligence in genealogy.

Beyond genealogy, I wear many hats: I’m a husband and a dad, a Methodist pastor, and a Virginian. My hobbies span from bird watching and sky gazing to chess and film. Additionally, I’m an avid reader, writer, photographer, and regex script hacker.

Genealogy and Personal Intro, Background, Experience, and Goals

As someone with training and a background in applied linguistics (natural language processing and computation linguistics–foundations of artificial intelligence), language and literature, computers and programming, writing and storytelling, and genealogy and family history, I am passionate about combining these interests to enhance genealogical research and discovery.

All 32 of my 3rd great-grandparents settled into one Appalachian county by 1820. My sixty most-recent ancestors were born, lived, and died there, in Ashe County, North Carolina; surnames among them are: Little, Lawrence, Bower, Houck, Adams, Bare, Burkett, Curtis, Fox, Gabey, Goodman, Greene, Grogan, Halsey, Johnston, Koontz, McMillan, Osborn, Parker, Perkins, Poe, Sheets, Strunk, Taylor, Wagoner, Witherspoon.

My parents left Ashe County in the mid-1960s, the first of my direct ancestors to leave Ashe in 140 years; sometimes they say they escaped (left of their own free will) and at other times they will say that they were exiled (“asked” to leave); both are in jest. The only people who love Ashe County more than the people who live there are the people who have left there.

I inherited my love of genealogy from another Ashe expatriate, my aunt, Monte Ann LITTLE DeBoard, an educator who spent her summers haunting county courthouses, archival libraries, and family reunions. Thirty years ago, about the time of the birth of my oldest son in 1992, I began helping my aunt with genealogy, first by digitizing her work in an early version of Family Tree Maker. About 15 years ago, I started getting serious about doing my own genealogy research. That research kicked into overdrive when I took my first DNA test in 2017 and starting analysis to confirm my aunt’s previous work (I found almost no errors). I now manage about two dozen DNA kits for friends and family.

I love doing genealogy work, both the traditional document-based research and the DNA analysis. Some skills were acquired from an academic background in computational linguistics and a first career (about fifteen years) in information technology as back-office support in university libraries, law libraries, and state archival libraries. Other skills have come from a second career (about another fifteen years) as a Methodist pastor (learning that every family is messy, yet God is in the messes, not least of all your own) in Fauquier County, Virginia, one of the most beautiful places on earth (eclipsed only by Ashe, and perhaps Rockingham County, Virginia). I live less than 50 miles from where my surname immigrant ancestor, Abraham Little, first landed near Fredericksburg in colonial Virginia as a boy in the mid-1680s as an indentured servant, having boarded or been placed upon a ship in England.

Steve and Shawn Little overlooking ancestral homeland of Ashe County, North Carolina

Links to me at other genealogy sites:

If you think we might be cousins, please get in touch!