Being Jean
your online collection of news & photos on Jean Smart
July 9, 2018

A familiar face around Indiana University Southeast appeared on the season finale of “Who Do You Think You Are” on TLC.

Dr. Kelly Ryan, a historian and dean of the School of Social Sciences at IUS, made a guest appearance on the cable network show to help actress Jean Smart, known for her roles in “Designing Women” and “24,” understand her lineage.

Ryan, who lives in Louisville, said she was initially contacted by the show to help with another celebrity who later backed out. They never told Ryan who the celeb was, so the mystery will remain, but when Smart had an ancestor in Salem, Mass., they contacted Ryan again.

Smart, with the help of genealogists, traced her ancestry back to one particularly interesting person, Dorcas Hoar, her eighth great-grandmother. In 1678 in Essex County, Mass., Hoar was charged with running thievery ring, which used domestic servants to pilfer items from wealthy homes. Her daughter Annis Hoar, who was 14 at the time, testified against her in the case. Annis is Smart’s seventh great-grandmother.

This is where Ryan comes in. She specializes in race, gender, sexuality and violence in early United States history, and her first book “Regulating Passion: Sexuality and Patriarchal Rule in Massachusetts, 1700-1830” tells the stories of women charged with sexual crimes in early Massachusetts. She is currently working on a second book about women who faced criminal charges.

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