Wednesday, 26 May 2010

ACR Omnibus Edition 26 May 2010

In this issue:

Go Ask Your Father
Ottawa City Archives Progress
Chapman Shipyard (NB) History
DNA Test Concern
International Coalition on Newspapers
DNA SIG Meeting

Go Ask Your Father
I borrowed this 2009 book by Lennard J. Davis from the Ottawa Public Library, It's the story of one man's obsession with finding his origins through DNA testing. His mission is to find out whether his biological father was the man he knew as his father, now deceased, that man's brother, or perhaps someone else.

Who in the genetic genealogy community has not dreamed that they might be able to drill down into the grave of a long deceased ancestor and get a DNA sample? With the capability to discover and recover DNA from degraded samples ever increasing, as illustrated by the recovery and sequencing of the Neanderthal genome, is that dream becoming closer to reality?

While that didn't happen in this case what did was at least as good. I was very surprised to learn that a sample of his father's flesh was found, more than 20 years after his death, preserved in paraffin at a local hospital. With the permission of the next of kin, his elder brother, Davis was able to access that sample for a DNA test.

I won't give the story away except to say that in the author's opinion the results of the DNA test were conclusive.

The strength of this book is Davis' description of the chase. I especially liked the various narratives he developed about his ancestry which changed as additional information became available. Less successful was his description of the basic science, perhaps because it's old hat to me. It was easy enough to skip those sections.

Ottawa City Archives Progress
Taken on Saturday May 22 through the fence off Tallwoods, just east of the Library technical services wing, the photo shows the basic structure of the archives wing now in place with interior construction supports removed. There was no work going on that day perhaps indicating the project is on schedule with no need for work over the long Victoria Day weekend.











Chapman Shipyard (NB) History
The Internet Archives now includes a March 2006 document "Application for Historical Site Designation Robert Andrew Chapman and Robert Andrew Chapman Shipyard," and application to Canada's Historical Sites and Monuments Board. Robert Andrew Chapman (February 2, 1835 – September 2, 1918), a descendant of a family of Yorkshire origin, operated a shipbuilding business in Rockland, New Brunswick, where 31 wooden sailing vessels were launched between 1860 and 1883. The document includes family history of the Chapman family, a listing of the ships built and their history.
www.archive.org/details/RobertAndrewChapman-NewBrunswickShipbuilder

DNA Testing Concern
Last week there was an announcement of availability of a DNA testing service, quickly withdrawn, sold over-the-counter at US drugstore chain Walgreens. The product, called Genetic Health Report, purported to test for more than 70 health issues, including predispositions to Alzheimer's, breast cancer, and diabetes. The situation is summarized at:
www.technologyreview.com/biomedicine/25381/?nlid=3025&a=f

The report refers to a letter sent to heads of three DNA testing companies by the US House of Representatives Committee on Energy and Commerce asking for information on various aspects of their genetic health service. A copy is at:
http://energycommerce.house.gov/documents/20100519/Wojcicki.23andME.2010.5.19.pdf

Although the concern at this time is regarding health-related services, not genetic genealogy, a March 2008 Congressional Research Service report did express concern about claims of ethnic origin determined from genetic testing, notably for African origins. http://assets.opencrs.com/rpts/RS22830_20080312.pdf

International Coalition on Newspapers
The ICON Database of International Newspapers is a free online resource for bibliographic information on newspapers published outside of the United States at http://icon.crl.edu/database.php. A search for Ottawa found 53 records. The site also has links to past, present, and prospective digitization projects of historic newspapers at http://icon.crl.edu/digitization.htm

DNA SIG Meeting
The Ottawa DNA/genetic genealogy interest group will be meeting on Saturday 29 May at 9:30am at Library and Archives Canada. As well as the regular round the table session I will be demonstrating results from 23andMe's Relative Finder and Family Tree DNA's Family Finder. All welcome. No charge.

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