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Colleen Fitzpatrick    

Internationally recognized Forensic Genealogist; member of team: Unknown Child on the Titanic, Northwest Flight 4422; Abraham Lincoln DNA Project; author of three of the top selling genealogy books.

Colleen Fitzpatrick, PhD, founder of Identifinders International, is a forensic genealogist who has been recognized for her work with the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory on identifying the remains found in the Alaskan crash of Northwest Flight 4422. She has consulted on many high profile DNA identification efforts including the identification of the Unknown Child on the Titanic and the Amelia Earhart Project. She is currently the genealogist on the Abraham Lincoln DNA project.

Retired from the optical industry in 2005, Colleen is involved in cold case work through her development of innovative DNA techniques, assisting law enforcement and the military with forensic identification. As a world traveler and multi-lingual, Colleen specializes in international cases. Colleen's first book Forensic Genealogy has become a classic, a must-have for professional and casual genealogists alike. She is also the co-author of DNA & Genealogy and the author of The Dead Horse Investigation: Forensic Photo Analysis for Everyone.

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Forensic Genealogy - CSI Meets Roots

Subtitle: Who? What? When? Where? Are these the words of a genealogist researching his family tree or a forensic scientist solving a mystery? Maybe someone who is both!

Today, genealogy is more exciting than ever thanks to the ever-growing wealth of information that is available at the click of a mouse. Even if you cannot find something online, it’s often possible to find someone who can find it for you in a library thousands of miles away. The possibilities are limited only by your imagination.

Forensic genealogy has established itself as the modern approach to family research. Forensic genealogy does not replace conventional methods of research, it enhances them. Established reference materials such as photographs, databases, and DNA can provide much more information than you ever dreamed, if only you keep your eyes open and use a little imagination. But are you really using your genealogical materials to your best advantage?

The goal of this lecture is not to provide a dry list of places to look for information, but rather to spark your imagination to discover new ways of looking at your family mysteries, to permanently change the way you see things, to turn you into a forensic genealogist.

Short Description for Brochure: Who? What? When? Where? Are these the words of a genealogist researching his family tree or a forensic scientist solving a mystery? Maybe someone who is both! You will arrive at this talk a genealogist, you will leave a forensic genealogist.

Audience Level: All levels. Category: Methodology Format: Powerpoint AV Requirements: LCD Projector, Screen, and Lapel Mike

Links for further information:

A four part interview with the Orange County Register beginning October 2, 2009

“CSI Meets Roots”, GAMES Magazine, November 2007

“Where? When? Why? Who? CSI Meets Photography", GAMES Magazine, August 2009

You Will Never Look at Your Old Photos the Same Way Again!

Step into the 21st century with your photo identification! Every bit of a photograph – the thickness, the edges, the shape, and yes, even the image, can help you identify it. It’s not only what you look at in a photo, it’s how you look at it that counts. Clues lurk in the most unusual places, you just have to find them. Even the most mundane items– the weather, the direction of traffic on a street, can be the clue that can solve a photo-mystery.

Colleen has written cover articles on forensic photo identification for Ancestry, Family Chronicle, Internet Genealogy, and Family Tree Magazine, and for many years wrote a regular column on photoidentification for Ancestry Magazine. Her weekly photo quizzes on www.forensicgenealogy.info attract fans from all over the world. She also contributes feature articles on puzzling out photos for GAMES Magazine.

Colleen’s most recent book The Dead Horse Investigation: Forensic Photo Analysis for Everyone has become the book to have for photo identification. Readers are surprised at the innovative ways it offers of identifying old photographs – many that you have likely never considered before.

After attending this talk, you will never look at your old photos the same way again!

Short Description for Brochure: Step into the 21st century with your photo identification! If you think you have squeezed every drop of information from your photos, guess again. If you attend this talk, you will never look at your old photos the same way again!

Audience Level: All levels. Category: Methodology Format: Powerpoint AV Requirements: LCD Projector, Screen, and Lapel Mike

Links for further information:

The Dead Horse Investigation: Crouching Horse, Hidden Locomotive GAMES Magazine, April 2010

“Where? When? Why? Who? CSI Meets Photography”, GAMES Magazine, August 2009

“Where Who? What? Where? When? Why?” GAMES Magazine, November 2008

“CSI Meets Roots” GAMES Magazine, November 2007

“Uncovering the Past in Rushville, Nebraska”, Internet Genealogy, May 2007 Forensic Genealogy weekly photoquizzes

The Database Detective

Birth, marriage, and death indexes are three databases familiar to even casual genealogists. But have you ever considered using Google Maps to solve a genealogical mystery? What about Amazon or eBay? And once you have found the facts, how do you “connect the dots” in a meaningful way to bring long-gone family members to life again?

Spotting patterns in data is important to a family historian. For example, noticing patterns used by parents to name their children can provide clues to the parents’ parents and siblings. Yet genealogists often miss such hidden clues.

And what about very large databases? Is there any sense is looking at a mountain of birth records if all you need is one or two? How can you harness the power of information to reveal interesting background information on how your ancestors lived and died?

Forensic Genealogy has used database mining to solve some of the most compelling mysteries of modern genealogy. Understanding how to mine databases is critical for genealogical success, especially since the size and number of online databases are growing so rapidly. Forensic genealogy will not only show you where to look for information, but more importantly how to look at it.

Short Description for Brochure: Forensic Genealogy has used database mining to solve some of the most compelling mysteries of modern genealogy. It offers much insight on how to use materials you may take for granted. You may know where to look for information- but come to this lecture and find out how to look at it.

Audience Level: All levels. Category: Methodology Format: Powerpoint AV Requirements: LCD Projector, Screen, and Lapel Mike

Links for further information:

“The Database Detective”

“The Ulmers”

Not Just the Facts Ma'am, Give Me the Big Picture

As genealogists, it is easy for us to take databases for granted, especially because of the enormous amount of data we can access through the internet. We often believe it is enough “look something up” if we need it.

But individual facts only give bits of a story. Knowing “where” to look for facts is critical for genealogical success. But for best results, it is critical to knit those facts into what we call “information”. Knowing where to look for facts is only the first step; knowing how to look at them is the key to success.

In this talk, I take one photograph of a scene, and starting from easily recognized details in it, I gradually build a coherent story that gives insight about the “big picture”. I explain how facts, or small bits of information that individually may not seem important, can be fit together like a jigsaw puzzle, to create a picture that means much more than its individual parts.

Short Description for Brochure: Individual facts only give bits of a story. But for best results, it is critical to knit those facts into what we call “information”. Knowing where to look for facts is only the first step; knowing how to look at them is the key to success.

Audience Level: All levels. Category: Methodology Format: Powerpoint AV Requirements: LCD Projector, Screen, and Lapel Mike

For examples:

“The Dead Horse Investigation: Crouching Horse, Hidden Locomotive” GAMES Magazine, April 2010

“Where Who? What? Where? When? Why?”, GAMES Magazine, November 2008

“Uncovering the Past in Rushville, Nebraska”, Internet Genealogy, May 2007

A Different Kind of DNA Talk

DNA is not as difficult to understand as you might think! Whether you are having trouble spelling DNA or you are an old hand at genetic genealogy, this talk is for you! Understanding your DNA results, connecting with long lost cousins, and gaining insight into family history through DNA has become easier than ever.

And what if your DNA is different from the rest of the members of your family? Should you hide under the bed? Refuse all incoming phone calls? No! You have a terrific opportunity to discover interesting family history if your DNA doesn’t match anyone else’s.

In this talk, you will learn the basics of DNA, how to ‘do’ genetic genealogy, and what you can derive from your DNA results. Colleen explains how DNA can be combined with paper genealogy to provide a more powerful toolbox for solving genealogical mysteries. Colleen also gives success stories in tracing otherwise lost family history-unexpectedly connecting a group to a geographical region and to historical events occurring there.

This talk on DNA is very different from others you might have heard. No matter what level of understanding you have about genetic genealogy, this talk is for you!

Short Description for Brochure: Colleen Fitzpatrick is author of Forensic Genealogy and DNA & Genealogy, two best-sellers in genetic genealogy. Whether you are having trouble spelling DNA, or you are an old hand at genetic genealogy, this talk is for you!

Audience Level: All levels. Category: Methodology Format: Powerpoint AV Requirements: LCD Projector, Screen, and Lapel Mike

Link for futher information:

“The DNA Detective” , by Colleen Fitzpatrick and Andrew Yeiser

“One Man, Two Names, Three Families” Ancestry Magazine, July 2009

Identifinders DNA articles on DNA efforts to identify Benjaman Kyle

How DNA Can Help You with Your Family History

Finding DNA matches can be a thrilling experience, but that is not all there is to genetic genealogy. DNA analysis is only one corner of the research triangle. The others are occupied by family geography and family history. To get the most out of DNA testing, you should take all three into account.

For example, if your family name is Moore, and you know your family history as far back as Liverpool in the late 1700s, you might be surprised to find you match someone name Mohr living in the Rhine Valley of Germany today. The puzzle of how you could be connected can be solved by studying the history of German migration to England. In 1709 emigrants from the Palatinate in Germany arrived in England, hoping for passage to American. Although most of them continued on, some family members stayed behind in England where their descendants can still be found today.

Even if you do not discover any exact matches with people who share your family name, knowing who you don’t match allows you to eliminate them as relatives so that you can focus on people you do match, even if they have a different surname. Near matches can also be valuable in revealing characteristics of your ancestors, such as their ethnicity and geographic origins long in the past.

Keep in mind that DNA and written documentation are complementary. DNA can tell you that you are related to someone, but it usually cannot tell you how. But it is never “wrong”. Written documentation, on the other hand, can be in error, but it can also provide you with exact relationships if it exists. The weaknesses of DNA are compensated for by written documentation and vice versa, so that together they offer a powerful set of tools to the modern genealogist.

This talk will give you valuable insight into how to get the most of your DNA results. It will show you:

  • How genetic genealogy can reveal family roots even without a DNA match
  • How a match with another family name can open the doors to surprising new paths of family research
  • Examples of unexpected matches that provided long-sought answers to questions about family history
  • How the DNA of different families can “fit together” to show relations long in the past

Audience Level: All levels. Category: Methodology Format: Powerpoint AV Requirements: LCD Projector, Screen, and Lapel Mike

Link for further information:

“The DNA Detective” by Colleen Fitzpatrick and Andrew Yeiser

“One Man, Two Names, Three Families”, Ancestry Magazine article July 2009

Identifinders DNA articles on DNA efforts to identify Benjaman Kyle

How DNA Solved a Family Mystery

No matter how outlandish a story may seem, there is always an element of truth in it. But if the truth is not evident in the story itself, take a better look at the storyteller.

A DNA match is an event. Finding someone’s last name through a Y-DNA match can end years of frustration, it can be the beginning of years of frustration – and sometimes it can be both.

Since he first arrived in Australia in the 1920s, John Henderson Gray was living a life without a past. His earlier years in the US had faded over time into the shadows of mystery. Why had he fled to Australia and changed his name?

When he died in his 70s in 1970, “Jake” left five grown children and a loving wife who had always wondered who he was. The few accounts he gave of his early life seemed embellished, but how could they separate fact from fiction? In spite of years of wondering, without knowing his original last name, they had nothing to go on to search for his identity.

In 2002 Jake’s daughter Cindi in desperation visited a psychic, who told her that her father’s last name was Fitzpatrick. This led her to contact me as the group administrator for the Fitzpatrick DNA study.

Cindi’s brother Lincoln joined the our study, but did not find a match with anyone. DNA testing seemed to be a dead end until November 2008, when he found a match with a member of the Smithers DNA study. Within a few hours the decades-long mystery of Jake’s identity was solved. I identified her father as James William Smithers from Mt. Pleasant, MI and located Smithers family members still living in the US. John Lane Smithers, 86, living in Raleigh, NC is James’ son. He had been searching for what had happened to his father for over 60 years.

Come hear how a DNA match led to the joyful reunion of the Smithers-Gray Clan, ending nearly 80 years of frustrating speculation. Come hear how knowing Cindy’s dad’s last name led to unending discoveries about the mysterious life of James-Jake Smithers-Gray. This story has a beginning, but thanks to DNA, it will never have an end!

The story of James-Jake Smithers-Gray, “One Man, Two Names, Three Families”, appeared in the July/August issue of Ancestry Magazine. It was awarded First Prize by the International Society of Family History Writers and Editors (ISFHWE) in its 2010 writing competition in the Category II, Articles.

Summary: John Henderson Gray was a man in Australia without a past. When he died in his 70s in 1970, he left a wife and family wondering who he was. Come hear how DNA was the key to the discovery of his true identity, reuniting his son in the US with family he had been searching for, for over 60 years.

Audience Level: All levels. Category: Methodology Format: Powerpoint AV Requirements: LCD Projector, Screen, and Lapel Mike

Link for futher information:

“One Man, Two Names, Three Families”, Ancestry Magazine article July 2009

Six Degrees of Separation are History - How to Find Anyone in the World

What if you could find anyone you wanted anywhere in the world? Wouldn’t it make the “impossible” brick wall less daunting and give you hope that you could locate a possible male relative to take a DNA test, or find the family member who has the family bible you saw as a child?

The Six Degrees of Separation is a popular way of describing how small the modern world has become – based on experiments that have shown that on the average any two people in the world are separated by only six steps. The Six Degrees is a measure of an individual’s social network, connecting him to others.

But today, advances in communication technology—especially the Internet—have made it so much easier to “reach out and touch someone” – to short circuit your Six Degrees from someone else and find him in sometimes far fewer than six steps.

If you are interested in fun and exciting ways of finding long lost cousins – or actually anyone for that matter, come hear this talk. The Six Degrees of Separation are History – Come learn just how close we really are!

Short description for brochure: What if you could find anyone anywhere in the world? Wouldn’t it make the “impossible” brick wall less daunting? If you are interested in exciting new ways of finding long lost cousins – or actually anyone, come hear this talk. The Six Degrees of Separation are History – we are closer than you think!

Audience Level: All levels. Category: Methodology Format: Powerpoint AV Requirements: LCD Projector, Screen, and Lapel Mike

Examples of identification projects that may be included in the lecture:

Benjaman Kyle

DNA efforts to identify Benjaman, Identifinders International Blog

Close calls in Identifying Benjaman Kyle

The Hand in the Snow, RTE Ireland Television Network Interview, January 2009

Scientific American 60 Second Science Blog, March 26, 2009

Titanic's unknown child: The critical role of the mitochondrial DNA coding region in a re-identification effort , Forensic Science International, 10 Jan 2010

Identifinders Blog article with full story on identification

The Dead Horse Investigation

The hat, the horse, the man, the scene…the mystery. Who is he and why was he photographed in top hat and tails sitting on a dead horse in the middle of 8th St. in Sheboygan, WI?

Could this bizarre scene be the result of the tornado that struck Sheboygan while a horse show was in town in 1901? Or maybe the owners of a Sheboygan tannery were staking their claim to the hide after someone’s horse died in the street. Numerous theories have been advanced to explain the picture.

While we may never discover the reason for this bizarre scene, we have come as close as anyone. The photograph is a great test of anyone’s photo-sleuthing skills. So before you attend this talk, have a good look at the famous Sheboygan Dead Horse picture and see if you can answer a few questions. Do you see the sundial? Do you see the locomotive? What type of lens was used to take the picture? The answers to these questions are all right in front of you, it’s only a matter of how you look at things.

Short description for brochure: The hat, the horse, the man, the scene…the mystery. Who is he and why was he photographed in top hat and tails sitting on a dead horse in the middle of 8th St. in Sheboygan, WI? This photograph was a great test of anyone’s photo-sleuthing skills. All kinds of clues are right in front of you, it’s only a matter of how you look at things.

Audience Level: All levels. Category: Methodology Format: Powerpoint AV Requirements: LCD Projector, Screen, and Lapel Mike

Links for further information:

“The Dead Horse Investigation: Crouching Horse, Hidden Locomotive”, GAMES Magazine, April 2010

A Dead Horse of a Different Color

Identifinders blog update on investigation

How We Did It The Dead Horse Investigation: Forensic Photo Analysis for Everyone

Reach Out and Touch Someone - International Searches

Thanks to the internet, genealogists can now reach the other side of the world in a mouse click, and vice versa. Genealogists on the other side of the world can reach us. We have become a global research community.

There are still challenges that we face in communicating with someone in a foreign country, especially countries that do not share our language, but these challanges are now less daunting. Online translators allow us to translate between quite a few languages and English, so that interacting using the rudiments of another language is not as difficult as they used to be. Even if your grammar is not perfect, you will be surprised to find how understanding a phone call or an email recipient can be as you try to communicate with him in his native tongue.

Genealogists regularly consult libraries and archives in their home town, so what’s the difference with consulting one in a foreign country? All organizations, whether here or at home, have their own websites where they post their contact information. Even if you hesitate to call out of concern about the language barrier, simply asking “Do you speak English” might get you on the line with someone with whom you can communicate. That person will probably ask you to send email, giving you time to compose a more detailed message about what you need to find. National libraries and national archives overseas offer access to collections similar to ours at home.

Having contact with someone who lives in the country where you wish to research can be the key to your success. Joining the Yahoo Group of genealogists from that country is a convenient way to find someone who can give you tips on where and how to research your foreign ancestors, who may be able to translate documents for you and give you important geographical or historical information about them, or who may be able to visit their national archives on your behalf.

Short description for brochure: Thanks to the internet, genealogists can now reach the other side of the world in a mouse click. This talk will open your eyes to how you can “reach out and touch someone” with relative ease, to get help with your research anywhere in the world.

Audience Level: All levels. Category: Methodology Format: Powerpoint AV Requirements: LCD Projector, Screen, and Lapel Mike

Examples of projects involving foreign countries that may be included in the lecture:

The Hand in the Snow

RTE Ireland Television Network Interview

Scientific American 60 Second Science Blog, 26 March 2009

Unknown Child on the Titanic Forensic Science International, 10 January 2010

Identifinders Blog article with full story on identification

Adoption Searches - How to Find Someone if You Don't Know His Name

What’s in a name? A rose by any other name smells as sweet. Well, lots, actually.

Your name is the psychological point of contact you have with the world and the world has with you. You are indexed in countless ways by it – on your birth certificate, in the telephone book, in the census records, and on Facebook. But what if you are searching for someone but do not know his name. For example, suppose you are searching for the unidentified birthparents of an adoptee? What do you do? Where do you look?

The “non-identifying information” often provided to an adoptee by his adoption agency in narrative form often contains more information about his birth family than noticed at first glance. Explicit information is usually given relating to the number of natural siblings the adoptee has, and the ages and causes of death of close family members. But just as importantly, implicit information about the birth family can be gleaned by listening to the “voice” of the person who gave the narrative.

Taking a DNA test can also benefit an adoptee. A male can take a Y-DNA test to determine the family name of his birthfather. Both men and women can now take advantage of autosomal SNP testing. These tests can give you insights into your ethnic background and family geography, and indicate relationships to others who might have the “other half” of the story.

This talk will give you insight into adoption searches-how to use explicit and implicit information in conjunction with DNA to locate someone even if don’t know his name.

Short description for brochure: If you are searching for someone but do not know his name, where do you look? What do you do? This talk will give you insight into adoption searches – how to use explicit and implicit information in conjunction with DNA to locate someone even if don’t know his name.

Audience Level: All levels. Category: Methodology Format: Powerpoint AV Requirements: LCD Projector, Screen, and Lapel Mike

For further information:

“One Man, Two Names, Three Families” Ancestry Magazine, July 2009

Missing Identity website entries for Barbara Wenglinski and Baby Girl from Rozwadow

DNA Identification of the Missing Identity Children of the Holocaust

Of the 1,600,000 Jewish children who lived in Europe before World War II, only 100,000 survived the Holocaust. Most Child Survivors were hidden children, shuttered away in attics, cellars, convents, or farms. Unfortunately, in the chaos that reigned after Europe was liberated, restoring children to their birth families was especially difficult–many parents perished in the camps, children were often too young to know their own names, and some children had been moved countless times to keep them safe. Today, there are still hundreds of Child Survivors who have been unable to discover their birth identities.

Identifinders International in collaboration with 23andMe has started an exciting new pilot study to show how autosomal DNA testing can help “missing-identity” children recover long lost family connections. People who share DNA typically share family geography, history, and family names. Therefore characteristics shared by the families of a Survivor’s DNA autosomal matches must be shared by the Survivor too, yielding new clues about the identity of the Survivor’s birth family.

Come listen to personal stories of Child Survivors, and hear how autosomal DNA testing has given them new hope in their decades-long search for their birth identities.

Short description for brochure: Identifinders International in collaboration with 23andMe has started an exciting new pilot study to show how autosomal DNA testing can help “Missing-Identity” Children recover long lost family connections. Come hear personal stories of Child Survivors, and hear how autosomal DNA testing has given them new hope in their decades-long search for their birth identities.

Audience Level: All levels. Category: Methodology Format: Powerpoint AV Requirements: LCD Projector, Screen, and Lapel Mike

Links for more information:

Identifinders Blog Articles on Pnina Gutman

Who Am I, What is My Name? Pnina, Otwoc, and the Kazcmareks

Who Am I, What is My Name? Pnina, Wolfgang, and the Warsaw Ghetto

Missing Identity website entries for Barbara Wenglinski and Baby Girl from Rozwadow

JewishGen Blog: DNA Success Story: Finding the Origins of a Hidden Child

The Secrets of Abraham Lincoln's DNA

It has been suspected that Abraham Lincoln may have suffered from a variety of genetic disorders including a rare cancer called MEN2B. However it is only recently that DNA testing has become available that could confirm these suspicions that until now have been based solely on Lincoln’s physical appearance and historical reports about the condition of his health.

The Abraham Lincoln DNA project is one of the first in the area of Bio-Historical research—the study of how the genetics of historical figures may have influenced the course of world history.

Our efforts to obtain a sample of Lincoln’s genome to DNA test have caused us to deal with a large variety of issues, from the ethics of genetic testing an American icon who died over a century ago, to the question of whether Lincoln could have been adopted or illegitimate. There are further issues relating to establishing the provenance of Lincoln relics that could yield the President’s nuclear DNA. To authenticate the relic, the DNA obtained must be shown to be Lincoln’s and not to have come from contamination from others handling it over the decades. This would normally be done by comparing the mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) found on a relic to the mtDNA of a member of the extended Lincoln family who is maternally-linked to the President. But this is not easy, considering Abraham Lincoln has no known living descendants, his brother and his sister died without issue, and no one knows the origins of his mother Nancy Hanks; her family has never been conclusively identified.

This talk will discuss the how we are addressing these issues, and the fascinating secrets that we have so far unlocked about Abraham Lincoln’s DNA.

Short description for brochure: Abraham Lincoln is one of the most researched individuals in history. Yet his DNA still holds many mysteries. It has been suspected that Abraham Lincoln may have suffered from a variety of genetic disorders including a rare cancer called MEN2B. However until now these suspicions have been based solely on Lincoln’s physical appearance and historical reports about his health. The success of the Abraham Lincoln DNA project will open the door to Bio-Historical research— the study of the influence of the biochemistry of leading historical figures on world history. This talk will discuss the fascinating secrets that we have so far unlocked about Abraham Lincoln’s DNA.

Audience Level: All levels. Category: Methodology Format: Powerpoint AV Requirements: LCD Projector, Screen, and Lapel Mike

Links for more information:

Mental and Medical Health of Abraham Lincoln

The Physical Lincoln by John Sotos

Did Abraham Lincoln have Marfan’s Syndrome?

Marfan's Syndrome

RxPG News: Research Suggests Abraham Lincoln Suffered from Spinocerebellar Ataxia type 5 (SCA5)

The Hand in the Snow - The Crash of Northwest Flight 4422

As reported by MSNBC, CNN, and newspapers worldwide:

On March 12, 1948, at 9:14 pm, Northwest Flight 4422 en route from Shanghai to New York, slammed into Mount Sanford, a 16,237-foot peak located in a remote area 200 miles northeast of Anchorage, Alaska.

The 30 military personnel onboard were killed instantly and because of its remote location, the crash site was abandoned. It would take 50 years, and the efforts of two airline pilots to reach the scene of the accident. It would take another ten years and a team of world class forensic genealogists, DNA experts, and fingerprint analysts to identify the frozen human forearm and hand that were found by the pilots, well-preserved in a glacier for half a century.

By September 2008, 28 of the 30 passengers had been eliminated by fingerprints, DNA, or both. Only two passengers remained - the two most difficult to locate family references for for DNA analysis.

Our search for the family of Passenger #29, was featured in newspapers around the world, including USA Today. Come find out how we achieved the impossible and found a DNA match for the “Hand in the Snow”, finally laying to rest the 30 passengers of Northwest Flight 4422.

Short description for brochure: As reported by hundreds of newspapers worldwide: Fifty years after Northwest Flight 4422 crashed in Alaska, a frozen human arm and hand was found in the wreckage by two commercial airline pilots. It would take another ten years and a world class team of forensic specialists to make a positive identification of the remains. This talk tells our story.

Audience Level: All levels. Category: Methodology Format: Powerpoint AV Requirements: LCD Projector, Screen, and Lapel Mike

Links for further information:

RTE Ireland Television Network Interview, January 2009

Scientific American 60 Second Science Blog, March 2009

Orange County Register Interview, October 5, 2009

Irish Examiner newspaper article

MORE magazine interview, 2009:

Futher:

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Colleen_Fitzpatrick_(forensic_genealogist))

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Northwest_Airlines_Flight_4422

www.identifinders.com/hand.html

The Unknown Child on the Titanic - identified? - Identified!

On Sunday 14 April 1912, the SS Titanic on her maiden voyage to America with 2207 souls onboard, struck an iceberg and sank in less than three hours. Only 705 passengers survived. Of the 328 bodies recovered by the salvage operation sent from Halifax, just one was that of a child. His identity was known only to God for nearly a century until 2002, when Dr. Alan Ruffman and Dr. Ryan Parr announced that they had identified the remains of the “Unknown Child” as Eino Panula, a 13-month-old Finnish baby who had perished in the accident with his mother and four older brothers.

But was this identification correct?

In 2007, a controversy arose because the shoes of the child, held in the Maritime Museum in Halifax, were too large for a 13-month old. It was then revealed that the results of the DNA test had been tied between Eino and 19-month-old Sidney Leslie Goodwin, so that the final identification had been based on estimates of the maturity of three tiny teeth found in the grave. Maybe that estimate was wrong.

Come hear how we resolved the controversy and so that the Unknown Child on the Titanic in unknown no longer.

Short Description for Brochure: In 2002, the Unknown Child on the Titanic was finally identified as 13-month-old Eino Panula. But the identification was called into question based on his preserved shoes. Come hear how we resolved the controversy so that the Unknown Child on the Titanic in unknown no longer.

Audience Level: All levels. Category: Methodology Format: Powerpoint AV Requirements: LCD Projector, Screen, and Lapel Mike

Links for further information:

Remembering New-Found Kin, Halifax Chronicle Herald, 1 August 2008

Unlocking a Titanic Mystery Orange County Register, October 6, 2009

Titanic's unknown child: The critical role of the mitochondrial DNA coding region in a re-identification effort Forensic Science International, 10 January 2010

Identifinders Blog article with full story on identification

Identifinders International Case History

James-Jake Smithers-Gray, How DNA Solved an 80 Year Old Family Mystery

No matter how outlandish a story may seem, there is always an element of truth in it. But if the truth is not evident in the story itself, take a better look at the storyteller.

Since he fled the US in 1924, John Henderson Gray lived a life without a past. There was no doubt that he had been a troubled young man. Why else would he have fled to Australia and changed his name?

“Jake” died in 1970, leaving five grown children and a wife who had always wondered who he was. In 2002 Jake’s daughter Cindi visited a psychic, desperately hoping for an answer. Ironically he presented her with a lead that was false, yet provided a path to the truth. He told Cindi that her father’s name was Fitzpatrick, leading her to contact me as the group administrator of the Fitzpatrick DNA study.

Come hear how after six years, a DNA match led to the end of nearly 80 years of frustrating speculation. Come hear how knowing Cindy’s dad’s last name led to unending discoveries about his former life half the world away. This story had a beginning, but thanks to DNA, it will never have an end!

Summary: John Henderson Gray was a man in Australia without a past. When he died in his 70s in 1970, he left a wife and family wondering who he was. Come hear how DNA led to the discovery of his true identity, helping solve a family mystery that was eight decades old.

Audience Level: All levels. Category: Methodology Format: Powerpoint AV Requirements: LCD Projector, Screen, and Lapel Mike

Links for further information:

“One Man, Two Names, Three Families” Ancestry Magazine, July 2009

“DNA reveals story of dad’s disappearance” Raleigh News and Observer interview with John Smithers

Identifinders International Case History

Lying with Wolves - Misha Defonseca Holocaust Fraud Exposed

The memoirs of a girl of eight who wandered 3,000 miles across Nazi-occupied Europe searching for her missing parents was amazing enough. Add in her claims of surviving two freezing winters living with a pack of wolves and you have a truly astonishing tale. Unfortunately the life story that earned its author $10M and was translated into 18 languages was just that. A story. On February 28, 2008, Misha Defonseca admitted that her bestseller, Surviving with Wolves, was, as she preferred to say, "not the real reality".

What brought about Misha’s stunning confession was the work of a dogged team of forensic genealogists. With the help of a woman in Belgium who had been a hidden child during WWII, the team produced documents showing that at the time she claimed to be skinning rabbits in the snow and stealing food from farmhouses on her way to Poland, she was actually a four year old living with her grandparents’ flat in Brussels.

The fact that Defonseca confessed based on the only written and photo documentation alone disappointed the research team. Had she not done so, we were prepared to prove her true identity through matching her DNA with living family members.

Short description for brochure: On February 28, 2008, Misha Defonseca admitted that her international bestseller, Surviving with Wolves, was "not the real reality". As this talk explains, what brought about Misha’s stunning confession was the work of a dogged team of forensic genealogists who discovered documents about Misha’s childhood thought impossible to obtain.

Audience Level: All levels. Category: Methodology Format: Powerpoint AV Requirements: LCD Projector, Screen, and Lapel Mike

Links for further information:

Does Publishing Need Genealogists? Publishers Weekly interview, Jan 2009

Identifinders International Case History

Wikipedia article on Misha Defonseca

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