Modern Software Experience

2011-06-21

Genea-Musings

This is a brief guest post I wrote for Randy Seaver's Genea-Musings blog, well known for a very regular - more than once a day! - stream of original genealogy content. This guest post is a follow-up to his Thoughts on Classical and Scientific Genealogy blog post. It was published with my permission on 2011 Jun 20, on Genea-Musings, as Tamura Jones Guest Post: Scientific and Traditional Genealogy.

Exciting Times

First of all, I thank Randy for allowing me a brief guest post on his blog. I am not going to try and explain and what scientific genealogy is, I've done about a dozen articles on my own blog already - and still haven't quite succeeded. I'll merely try to address some concerns and misconceptions.

Scientific genealogy does not require that you sneak into cemeteries to dig up your ancestors; it merely requires a scientific approach to genealogy. That includes accepting the fact that you do not know who your ancestors are until you've proven who they are. That isn't branding anyone a liar, that is accepting that there is a difference between facts and proven facts; and proving your biological ancestry normally starts with proving the first generation.

Traditional genealogists treat official records as proof of their genealogy. That is wrong; official records do not prove biological relationships at all. That is a simple truth, and there is nothing wrong about acknowledging that truth. You still know who your official ancestors are. You still know who your legal ancestors are. Most importantly, you still know which family you are from, which family your legal parents are from, etcetera; you still know who your ancestral families are. You still know who you call mum or dad, and you are not going to stop doing that just because you became a scientific genealogist and do not have proof yet.

Scientific genealogy does not ask you to throw away the records you've collected. On the contrary, these records remain very useful; you need them for your official and legal genealogies. Scientific genealogy does ask you to accept that you have more than one genealogy, that your biological, official and legal genealogies are not the same.
Three genealogies instead of one; that is triple the genealogy fun!

Family historians benefit immensely from this improvement; the known family history is practically sure to make more sense once you know where the differences between the genealogies are.

It is an exciting time to be a genealogist. We have a scientific basis for genealogy that enables us to leave traditional genealogy behind. It is possible to research your biological ancestry, and the prices for DNA tests continue to drop. We can not only work towards creating a real genealogy proof standard, we can also make sure that our descendants do not just suspect and believe, but know that we are their ancestors.

With sufficient data on tested generations, we may even be able to infer biological relationships for earlier generations, but if we do not manage to do so, then we may very well become the first generations of known ancestors. We have the chance to be the generations of Most Recent Known Ancestors for our descendants - for mankind. We have the chance to be the solidly documented primogenitors of the world's biological ancestry. That is an exciting genealogical thought.

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