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In Forensic Genealogy Dr. Colleen Fitzpatrick explains in an easy-to-read manner how to find clues you never dreamed existed in your photographs and in databases of many kinds of records. She first explains the concepts to help you think like a detective when using these sources. Then she uses case studies to illustrate real-life examples of how to put these concepts to use.
I learned many things in the photo and database detective sections. Like other reviewers I will never look at a photograph again in the same way I did before. I thought I was meticulous in pulling details from photos but Dr. Fitzpatrick shows how to go far beyond what I have done before including using weather history to help determine when a photo was taken.
But the DNA section has been most useful. After reading several other DNA books written for genealogists, as well as the popular books written in recent years by scientists, I still hadn't found explanations for some of the common notation I saw used on web sites and in mail-lists on DNA. I finally found these defined in Forensic Genealogy. The DNA section is written in such a way that you can get an overview and basic understanding or go much deeper. I would highly recommend this book to any one who wants to do professional-level genealogical research using digital tools and DNA.
I heard about Forensic Genealogy though Dick Eastman's excellent online genealogy newsletter. I immediately put it on my Amazon wish list and received a copy for Christmas. I was not disappointed. The book is divided into three basic parts: old photographs, available databases and using DNA in a family history search. Each section is well covered helping the reader get started unearthing clues that may have been overlooked. It helps you "see" clues that may have been staring you in the face unrecognized for years.
While I have been studying my family history for about 10 years, this book has given me a few new tools to aid my research. One example is that I never considered that the photo paper was used could help date a photo. I will be dragging out some of my old photos and giving them a second look.
There are numerous examples given in each section of this book. One of the funnier ones was a photo I had seen circulating on the Internet. It was a car on a highway with a severed gas station hose hanging out of the filler. Through a little effort, Dr. Fitzpatrick shows you how to identify exactly where this photo was taken.
I have been considering using DNA to identify early ancestors. The book has a comprehensive section on DNA. It does require a bit of study to fully understand but don't worry. Even a casual reading of this section will supply you with a basic understanding of this new tool.
This book is generally an easy read with lots of useful information. I highly recommend it.
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.
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.
The only drawback to this book is that you don't want to put it down. The ideas presented by Ms.Fitzgerald present a new approach to looking at old photographs, thinking outside the box to solve some of those genealogy mysteries! Using DNA is probably the only way we will ever determine some of our ancestors. This book provides a clear understanding of this process. This book should be on the shelf of anyone who is researching family history,whether they do it as a hobby or profession. Ms. Fitzpatrick has given clear and concise information which will surely aid anyone who is currently "stuck" working through their genealogical research.