Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Family History and the Changing Ways We Do History

Collin Charles's grandfather's military service record.

One of the cool things about history is that everything has a history (check out #everythinghasahistory)  This spring semester, Professor Chris Dalton is combining the new and the old in the senior seminar.  The theme is family history, which is not new, but the techniques the students are using are pretty new.  In addition to old fashion history work, students used tools like,,, and Google books.  The class also looked at the role genetics plays in how we understand our history.

Joe Giglio explored connections to Captain Ahab (maybe).

Professor Dalton wanted students to think about how genetics defines relationships over time.  He notes that:

Statistically, all people of European descent share a common European ancestor only 600 years ago.
Similarly, all people of European descent share all of each other’s European ancestors just 1,000 years ago.
Additionally, all people alive today  share a common ancestor 3,400 years ago.1

Of course, all of this led the students to explore more about their families leading to some interesting finds.

Rachel Collins did a family tree as part of her project.

Mason Kelley discovered some information on the Salem Witchcraft Trials.

1Adam Rutherford, A Brief History of Everyone Who Ever Lived: The Human Story Retold Through Our Genes (The Experiment: New York, 2017), 160-161, 164, 177.

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