Science Teachers

Science Teachers

Three new books instruct you in applying genetics to your genealogy.

 

1. Mapping Human History: Discovering the Past Through Our Genes by Steve Olson (Houghton Mifflin). If you’ve dabbled in DNA testing to trace your ancestors or are interested in doing so, you’ll enjoy reading this synthesis of science and history. A readable account of the evolution of the human race, the book draws from the latest DNA and genetic research, as well as from other sources. Olson claims “only about 7,500 generations separate everyone alive today from a common set of ancestors.” Through DNA research, he explores how all races of people are closely related. Mapping Human History is a fascinating journey that spans the continents of Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe, the Middle East and the Americas. Although the book won’t help you with your own DNA research, it will give you a greater appreciation of the human race from which we all descend

2. Trace Your Roots with DNA: Using Genetic Tests to Explore Your Family Tree by Megan Smolenyak Smolenyak and Ann Turner (Rodale). Just a decade ago, genealogists had to rely on finding historical documents to link generations and prove their ancestry. Though they could satisfactorily prove a lineage historically, they weren’t able to prove it biologically. All that’s changed now. Today DNA testing is simple, and you don’t have to dig up Great-great-grandpa to prove you’re related to him. DNA-testing companies offer kits to take a swab of cells from inside your cheek. In Trace Your Roots with DNA, the authors explain what type of information these tests can provide, how to interpret the results and how the tests work. You’ll also learn ways to find and contact “genealogy cousins” to help with your DNA search. The authors — both avid genealogists — give you the latest information and resources to on how to use DNA in your family history search.

3. Unlocking Your Genetic History: A Step-by Step Guide to Discovering Your Family’s Medical and Genetic Heritage by Thomas H. Shawker (Rutledge Hill Press). Ever wonder how to find out if the cancer Aunt Martha had runs in your family? Or how you can prove your ancestry through DNA testing? The latest book in the National Genealogical Society Guides series, Unlocking Your Genetic History shows how you can tailor your genealogical search to discover what traits and diseases might run in your family, as well as how you can use DNA testing to support or refute your ancestry. As you flip past the illustrations, you might be tempted to put it down, thinking the subject is too complex. But Shawker — a medical doctor and genealogist — has a remarkable ability to make this complicated topic not only understandable to a lay audience, but also interesting. He uses examples of famous and lesser-known ancestral studies to demonstrate how important our genetic heritage is. This book is comprehensive, well-written and reader-friendly, and for those fascinated by the science of genetics and DNA testing, it’s a compelling read.

Extra Credit

? DNA and Family History: How Genetic Testing Can Advance Your Genealogical Research by Chris Pomery (The [British] National Archives)

? DNA for Family Historians booklet by Alan Savin (Genetic Genealogy Guides <www.savin.org>)

? Forensic Genealogy by Colleen Fitzpatrick (Rice Book Press <www.forensicgenealogy.info/services.html>)
 
From the August 2005 Family Tree Magazine

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