Powerful new approaches to genealogy are blending traditional
methods with new scientific techniques, including
cutting-edged DNA technology, a United States forensic
genealogist, Colleen Fitzpatrick, says.
From California, the former rocket scientist, gave a public
talk on photographic-related aspects of genealogy to more
than 80 people at the Dunedin Public Library this week.
Dr Fitzpatrick tantalised the audience with a series of
And, after giving a few clues, she joked that audience
members would be ejected on a rocket seat if they blurted out
the answer too soon.
Photographs revealed much about the past, and hidden clues,
including the materials they were mounted on, could often be
used to help determine when they had been taken, and to
identify their subjects, she said.
Cardboard had been invented in 1870, and it was sometimes
possible to date photographs for some time after that by the
growing thickness of the cardboard as the related technology
Dr Fitzpatrick recently helped establish a family link
between Dunedin resident Ken Goodwin (63) and Sidney Leslie
Goodwin, a 19-month-old child who died in the Titanic
disaster in 1912.
That child, whose body had been recovered from the North
Atlantic, had lain in a Nova Scotia grave unidentified for
many decades, until his identity was finally revealed through
the use of new DNA test in 2007.
Dr Fitzpatrick said in an interview it was ''wonderful'' that
she had helped make a connection with Mr Goodwin, with the
help of other people, including fellow genealogists.
She also said recently that she was ''very excited about the
future for genealogy''. DNA testing allowed people to ''make
connections with long-lost relatives'' who would have been