Ancestry.com helps the authors of Empty Mansions uncover the surprising American story of Huguette Clark

When Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Bill Dedman noticed a grand home unoccupied for nearly sixty years, he stumbled upon a surprising portal into American history.

Empty Mansions explores a rich American mystery that connects nineteenth-century opulence with a twenty-first-century battle over millions. At the book’s heart lies a reclusive heiress named Huguette Clark, a woman so secretive that, at the time of her death at age 104, no new photograph of her had been seen in decades. Why had she lived for twenty years in a simple hospital room, despite being in excellent health? Why were her valuables being sold off? Was she in control of her fortune? Explore Huguette Clark’s family tree

Richly illustrated with more than seventy photographs, Empty Mansions expertly details an enthralling story of a unique eccentric, who lived life on her own terms.

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“… an enchanting journey into the mysteries of the mind, a true-to-life exploration of strangeness and delight.”

- Pat Conroy, author of The Death of Santini: The Story of a Father and His Son

“Dedman and Newell have expertly captured the arc of history covered by the remarkable Clark family”

- Jon Meacham, author of Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power

Bill Dedman
Paul Clark Newell, Jr.

How Ancestry.com helped the authors of Empty Mansions

Bill Dedman and Paul Clark Newell, Jr., used Ancestry.com extensively to research the Clark family story. They found photographs from passport applications, and located documents from ship's registries, Census rolls, immigration petitions, births, deaths, and cemeteries; they even hired a freelance genealogist through Ancestry.com to confirm a birthdate for Huguette's mother. Staff at Ancestry.com continued to assist the authors by searching Civil War records for W. A. Clark and discovered that nobody with his name and county was enlisted on either side of the war, disputing a legend put forth by Clark's political opponents that he was a Confederate deserter.