Have you ever considered looking at the edges of an old photograph to find out who is in the picture? Have you ever considered epidemics as a source of genealogical information? How can you use DNA to connect your family with historical events long in the past? These are only a few of the surprising connections Forensic Genealogy offers for investigating the where, who, when, and why of your family history. As featured on NPR’s Talk of the Nation radio program (July 2005), Internet Genealogy (June 2006 Online Bonus Edition), Family Tree Magazine (April 2006), and Family Chronicle (October 2005), Forensic Genealogy offers innovative new tools for getting the most information out of your reference materials. Forensic Genealogy also suggests many unusual places to look for family history.After reading this book, you will never look at your research materials the same way again! Forensic Genealogy comes with the Forensic Genealogy CD ROM and a mail-in coupon from Family Tree DNA for a $10 discount on any testing service. ... Read more
Customer Reviews (22)
Summary of content
This was a superbly done book, containing VERY useful content and procedures.I strongly recommend it for anyone interested in investigation and/or genealogy.
This book is a must for budding AND experienced genealogists. The first two sections on anlayzing photos and anaylzing electronic media are timeless. The final section on DNA analysis is a bit out of date; but that's to be expected as it was written in 2005! The prices and offerings of the various labs need to be updated. One coupld argue with the premise that the reasosn more Europeans don't participate in DNA research was (2005) because of the exchange rates between the pound/euro and the dollar: When one looks at thet the DNA testers and labs (all U.S.), one could esily draw the conclusion that this is strictly a U.S. endeavor. There are also some misapprehensions which have made their way around the world: Homeland Security's database of terrorist's DNA, FBI DNA databases of criminals, Defense Department's DNA database of U.S. service personnel, etc. She does an excellent job of showing why such concerns should be dismissed.
Overall, an excellent work for genealogists at all levels; but the DNA sections badly needs updating.
Excellent starting point for the new technologies in genealogy
"Forensics" refers to the use of science and technology in the investigation of evidence and establishment of facts. We generally use the term in relation to legal and police work, but there's no reason forensic methods can't be applied to any sort of research in the social sciences, including genealogy. In this book, however, it often seems to have acquired a looser meaning -- something like "close, careful examination." And that's incorrect, but ever since CSI became popular on TV, "forensic" has become a sexy word. And the author makes some excellent points about paying attention to the sources you examine, so I won't carp about the label she adopts. Dr. Fitzpatrick (who, in the real world, is a physicist with a specialty in laser optics) is becoming quite well known as a genealogical conference speaker at the local and national level, partly, I think, because she does a good job explaining concepts and methodology in the area of DNA research -- which is definitely a forensic topic. And that's part of what you'll find in this very well written and very readable volume, but not all of it by any means. In fact, DNA work is only one of the three subjects she explores, the others being interpretation of photographs and the proper use of databases. Fitzpatrick is a proponent of the notion that almost any kind of information source can have genealogical implications. Most of us started out reading the census on microfilm (or on Ancestry these days), plus the published sacramental records if your family is from south Louisiana, and many supposed researchers never get beyond that. But what about old weather and hospital records, railroad history, and the development of photographic technology? You may have done a straightforward search of 19th century city directories, but have you considered making a methodical analysis of a family group through a series of city directories over time -- especially when they are associated with multiple addresses? Not to mention using directories for "widow tracking." There are hundreds of potentially very useful databases -- collections of information -- available online these days whose very existence you might never have previously guessed at. Have you ever tried to calculate the latitude of the unknown location of an old photograph by examining the shadows in the picture? Sometimes, merely scanning an old photo at the highest possible resolution and then examining the digitized image at high magnification brings to light key details you never noticed before. (On the other hand, trying to guess the time period from the clothing styles is much less useful than one might think, especially for farm families who habitually wore old clothes.) Fitzpatrick suggests a number of other techniques you're probably never heard of for squeezing every bit of information from old photos. And in both areas she includes some deeply interesting case studies. I turned to the DNA section with particular interest because (being an historian and not a "hard" science sort of person) it's a topic I still don't feel entirely comfortable with. Quite a few books have been published in recent years on the use of DNA testing in family research, some better than others. DNA analysis is the best-known area in which developments in criminal investigation have led directly to genealogical applications, especially in determining whether family traditions regarding lineage have a provable basis in fact. Fitzpatrick obviously understands the subject thoroughly and in depth, and she's more successful than many in communicating the essentials (and even many of the details) to the non-specialist family researcher. She provides a short background on the subject, then discusses mutations and why they are a key concept in family research, what "markers" are and what the numbers mean, how to join or start a single-name DNA project, how to deal with "non-paternity events" (every family has them, like it or not), an evaluation of the major commercial testing companies, . . . and even such abstruse subjects as haplotypes, cladograms, and pairwise mismatches, which may be more than most of us really need to know. But even DNA studies can't solve every mystery, and the author considers that problem, too. All in all, any researcher, regardless of level of experience, will find something new here, whether basic concepts or innovative techniques. Some of it may be tough going, but this book will certainly repay the time you spend with it.
Forensic Genealogy: A Recomended Resource
This is not your usual basic family history book. It effectively teaches one how to think and analyze way outside the box. Once you have gathered all your family's pertinent material, this book will take you way beyond birth, death, and marriage records. The author brilliantly demonstrates how to use city directories, weather data, photo intelligence mensuration techniques, sleuthing approaches, and even a chapter on DNA testing and tracking. This is a wonderful teaching vehicle and reference manual. We would recommend it to all serious genealogists.
The author takes a highly technical subject area and transforms it into understandable tools for one to use with excellent examples from her own family investigations. This book is a mind expanding read, and we rated it a high four hearts.
Must Have for dating Pics
This book is fantastic for dating photographs.I have bins of photos that I have no clue when they were taken.The tables in here help you to pen point the dates using things you'd never think of.Once Miss Fitzpatrick was able to use a cash registar and some old ads to determine the date of a picture!The more meaty sections are when she uses the light of day to name the exact location.Now that was amazing!
Last year I had the oppurturnity to meet Colleen.She is the nicest woman and ever so intelligent!Her passion flows throughout her work and makes the book enjoyable and fascinating to read.A genius in her field, Miss Fitzpatrick gives you the tools, the websites, and the frame of mind all in this book.
Inside are charts and tables giving you dating for when each type of photograph was made, describing to a tee how to distinguish your photo.
Also included, though I've not had much time to examine that section, are chapters on reading between the lines in directories and census images, ect.
Without this book I would still be clueless.It truly is a must have.
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