When I first heard this term it made me take a step back and ponder what it actually means. Taking the added in-depth research step we are all prone to do, I immediately Googled it. The response links included leads to articles and people specializing the in the field. However, I came away knowing it is the area of genealogy using standard methods and resources; but, it also includes more scientifically based methods too.
Looking at a photo may lead people to know that what their ancestors looked like during a certain event. Forensic Genealogy shines more of a light on data-mining. It could offer the time of day, close or exact locations, the year, day, and time. Depending on the details of the photo, it may also give physical hints concerning the health of the people in it. I heard it defined as “CSI meets Roots.” Sounds odd, but it is valid.
One such forensic genealogist I’ve gotten to know is Colleen Fitzpatrick. She is a real-life genealogy detective. One niche she has in her background is being a consultant genealogist for the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory. Her credentials don’t stop there.
Colleen holds a PhD in nuclear physics, an MS in physics, and founded her own optics company in her garage, so you know she is very much a self-starter. As a contractor, she has been affiliated with NASA, US Department of Defense, The National Institute of Health, and the National Science Foundation.
Author is another role she has been successful with publishing several outstanding books and I’m proud saying they are in my library. FORENSIC GENEALOGY is a fantastic best-seller, viewed by many individuals and organizations as a reference document.
Colleen also offers training, of sorts. Nearly each week, she offers a challenge to those who visit her web page: http://forensicgenealogy.info/
She posts a photograph along with several probing questions. From there, you are free to analyze and decode it all you would like. Once you’ve done your research, send it in. She is generous with her comments guiding contestant/students along their path. My goal is participating more with it. I’m better armed with breaking down photographed elements than ever before; but, I have a way to go before I’ve reached a consistent pattern of success.
Consider visiting Colleen Fitzgerald’s site and trying a few of her picture puzzles. Go a step further and buy her book. I can tell you, you’ll be pleased with both.