NEAL CONAN, host:

This is TALK OF THE NATION. I'm Neal Conan in Washington.

It's been said that whoever announced `seek and ye shall find' was not a genealogist. Many in search of their family trees find themselves instead drowning in an endless paper trail, frustrated by dim memories, distant archives, faded records and unidentifiable photographs. More than a few have put the search aside for another day.

Well, for many, tomorrow may be here. The urge to understand family history has led people to harness the latest technology from the Internet, to DNA, to testing the cutting-edge software intended to make the job easier and a lot more rewarding.

Later in the program, we'll talk about the hellish weather across much of the country this week. It's so hot that--well, send us an e-mail that fills in that blank: `It's so hot that...' Send it to totn@npr.org.

But first, genealogy and the digital revolution. If you've ever tried to fill in the missing pieces of your family heritage, give us a call with tips on what worked and what didn't. Have you gone so far as to get your DNA tested? Our number here in Washington is (800) 989-8255; that's (800) 989-TALK. The e-mail address is totn@npr.org.

And joining us now is Colleen Fitzpatrick, the author of a new book called "Forensic Genealogy." She's with us from the studios of KUCI in Irvine, California.

Thanks very much for being with us.

Ms. COLLEEN FITZPATRICK (Author, "Forensic Genealogy"): Hi. How are you?

CONAN: Very well. First of all, let me ask you to explain the title: "Forensic Genealogy." What's that?

Ms. FITZPATRICK: Well, it means applying all kind of--you know, just extra scientific techniques to genealogy. It doesn't mean like courtroom stuff, necessarily, but it means looking for those extra clues, you know, that solve the mystery, in other words.

CONAN: You advise us to think like detectives. Well, we see a lot of those on TV. You use the example of "C.S.I."

Ms. FITZPATRICK: Yeah, I do. It's like when you watch one of the "C.S.I." programs, or "Forensic Files," you know, they find a fiber on somebody who's been killed and for some reason they know the guy's third-grade teacher's name or something. Well, it seems like: How do you get from there to there? But if they explain it to you, it all makes sense. You know, they looked this up and they thought about that and it makes sense.

CONAN: Well, one of the things you focus on is photographs. A lot of us have old family photographs and we don't even know who it is anymore and maybe it's Uncle Ben, maybe it's a second cousin third time removed. We don't know who it is. You say to try to think it--look at those photographs using the mind of a detective. Give us some examples.

Ms. FITZPATRICK: There's plenty, actually. There was one picture of a barroom somebody sent me from Houston and found in her mom's stuff with an address on the back, which I recognized from New Orleans. So I went meticulously. I made a list of everything in the photograph that I could find. I researched it on the Internet; you know, I researched the kind of liquor they had, the kind of cash register, the kind of car in the street. And I researched the city directories for that address and I found out it was--her great-grandfather was the bartender and through all these other elements, I was able to pretty much narrow down when it was taken to a couple of months.

CONAN: If you'd like to take a look at that picture, by the way, we have a copy of it on our Web site; you can see it at www.npr.org. And there's a second version of that picture that shows the parts of the photograph that Colleen Fitzpatrick decided to investigate. Well, these were, you know, labels on liquor bottles and interestingly you're peering out--you wouldn't even necessarily see it in the original photograph. Don't look so much at the people, you say; look at that Model T Ford in the background.

Ms. FITZPATRICK: Yes, that's right. Look at everything, even the weather, even the way the people are dressed. Is it cold? Is it hot? Is it, you know--what are they doing? What are they holding? Even sometimes--I would say in one case, it was the length to width of the photograph that told me what camera took it which helped to date the photograph that way.

CONAN: And one thing you advise is, you know, the simplest thing to do with the photograph, the first thing you should do is turn it around and look at the back.

Ms. FITZPATRICK: Absolutely. People don't think this. First of all, you do know that some people actually wrote names on the backs of their photographs. I know it's incredible to believe, but also on the back there's logos for the different brands of paper, there's the lot numbers and even if you have those crinkly photographs from the 1960s with the crinkly edges, if you have a whole box of those, you can place them end to end like a jigsaw puzzle and see which ones came from the same roll. And then if you know one person in one photograph, it'll help you date and identify everybody else and the others on the same roll.

CONAN: That's fascinating. And even if they were all taken in to be developed at the same time off different rolls, they're all going to have the same lot number in terms of the paper they were printed on.

Ms. FITZPATRICK: Mm-hmm. Yeah. Likely, they'll have the same--they may come from the same box of paper, in which case they all can be put end to end. But the thing is they were all taken about the same time, so you can--you know, that'll help you with who's in them and when they were taken.

CONAN: Can this same approach of, you know, thinking of things in terms of detectives, looking for things that you might not ordinarily see, does that apply to things other than photographs?

Ms. FITZPATRICK: Absolutely. There's all kinds of things. You know, there's some, you know, of course, written records, you can go through them. There's tons of city directories going back a couple--a hundred years in some cases. You can find out who your relatives were living with; were they other family members; were they friends? Trace those family members and pretty soon you can get a whole group. I got fascinated with old hospital records and old insane asylum records and through that I was able to deduce a lot about the Irish coming in for the famine. I was able to deduce that the hospital had--sometimes had quite a few people checking in and sometimes didn't have any at all in an--I'm looking at 1851. So what I did was I graphed how many people checked in the hospital every day during that year and I found, you know, there was big wells of admissions and then there was, you know, real lulls and I was able to tie that to the weather conditions and it turned out there was a three-week lag between heavy rainfalls in the admissions to the hospital, and that was because that's the breeding cycle of the mosquito.

And since most of these people checking in were Irish, I was able to link that to Irish history, because when the immigrants came to New Orleans, it was a city of a hundred thousand people and there were 250,000 immigrants that came through that city and some stayed there, some didn't. But they had to drain the land to accommodate all of these new people, these new inhabitants. And the Irish were sent into the swamps to drain the land because slaves weren't used because they were very expensive. But Irishmen were free--they were cheap. So, you know, one died, they just got another one. So these men would work in standing water all day being bit by mosquitoes and they'd bring the yellow fever home to people living in shacks. And so sometimes whole buildings would die with yellow fever. And I was able to tie the big epidemic in 1853 to the three-times-normal rainfall they had that year.

And the--also so that gives you a lot of background in Irish history there, and there's also spikes on those records every now and then where, say, instead of 50 people, 150 people check in. And I was able to coordinate that against the ships arriving. It's not the Irish already living there; it's the Irish arriving. And they would arrive with typhus epidemics onboard. So they would be immediately brought to the public hospital because nobody had any money; it was, you know, free medical care. And I was able to tie that. So you see that's another chapter in Irish history right there.

So what I'm saying in this part of the book is that, you know, look beyond when your grandmother--what day she was born on. You know, she lived in a context. She lived in historical, political background. You know, she had her daily life as well. So all of these techniques, I'm telling, help you put your family in a historical context, you know, a background, you know, where they lived and died. And so you have to think beyond--I mean, a hundred years from now, I would imagine, I'd want people to know more than--about me than my birth date. You know, I'd like them to know a lot of things. So...

CONAN: Yeah. Let's get some listeners involved in this conversation: (800) 989-8255; (800) 989-TALK. And our e-mail address is totn@npr.org.

Let's begin with George. George calling from Lawrence, Kansas.

GEORGE (Caller): Hello.

CONAN: Hi.

Ms. FITZPATRICK: Hi, George.

GEORGE: Yes. I had an interesting search episode. I was trying to research an incident in family history that mostly was oral tradition, although there was some documentation, going back to the Indian wars period on the Plain. I had a--my father's great-aunt was taken captive by the southern Cheyenne. And I was digging through things and one night I got a phone call from a historian writing a book who said he'd come across a very detailed account of the incident in the Indian depredation claims in the National Archives. And he came up with it, something I would have taken probably never or maybe years to find, and there it all was written out in a very detailed and highly factual manner.

CONAN: And it...

Ms. FITZPATRICK: That's a tremendous find.

GEORGE: It really was. I was surprised.

CONAN: That's not going to help a whole lot of people, George, though, is it?

GEORGE: Right. Very narrow application, but they're out there and there are interesting things in there.

CONAN: Well, George, thanks...

GEORGE: But bottom line was their claim was denied.

CONAN: All right. Thanks very much, George.

GEORGE: You're welcome.

CONAN: Appreciate the phone call.

There are, of course, other than in that sense those archives, a lot of traditional methods that people did always use, tracing births and deaths and marriage records. Are those still useful?

Ms. FITZPATRICK: Oh, of course they are. You know, of course. And, you know, the family history centers, the Family History Library is a tremendous resource. I've found birth certificates back to 1664 there that I didn't know were around. So--and that has led me to more insights about that family, you know, how they lived and died as well.

CONAN: OK. Let's see if we can get somebody else on the line. And this is Jill. Jill calling from Stayton, Oregon.

JILL (Caller): Oh, hi. I'm actually calling just regarding the technology--I guess the recent technology with DNA. My case is that being adopted and it was a private adoption, I wasn't able to obtain information, you know, other than petitioning the court. And I found a company through a television program and so I sent away for the kit, sent them a blood sample and last year received information on my ancestry.

CONAN: And what did it find, broadly?

JILL: Yeah. It was very broad and it's more of a projection, obviously, than testing the complete spectrum of the DNA. But it turned out that I had 66 percent European, 21 percent sub-Saharan African and 13 percent Native American. And so I'm just to say that, you know, this was a surprise to me and it's wonderful to have that technology available to give some illumination on it all.

CONAN: We're going to talk more about DNA technology when we get back from a break, Jill. So stay with us; you may be interested in that part of the conversation.

JILL: OK. Thank you.

CONAN: Appreciate the phone call.

Our guest is Colleen Fitzpatrick. She's the author of "Forensic Genealogy," and you're invited to join the conversation, of course: (800) 989-8255; (800) 989-TALK. E-mail address is totn@npr.org.

Don't forget our e-mail challenge. If it's been hot in your part of the country this past week, well, how hot is it? Totn@npr.org.

I'm Neal Conan. Back after the break. It's TALK OF THE NATION from NPR News.

(Soundbite of music)

CONAN: This is TALK OF THE NATION. I'm Neal Conan in Washington.

Coming up on Thursday, we'll start a series of conversations on our favorite movies. And when we say conversations, that means we really want to hear from you. E-mail us now with your nominee for our first topic: the ultimate summer blockbuster. Send us a quick paragraph defending your choice and include your phone number: totn@npr.org. Put `summer movies' in the subject line, if you would. And possibly we'll invite you on the air to join the debate. What will it be, a sci-fi spectacular, a stunning shoot-'em-up or a certain web slinger? TALK OF THE NATION film awards starting this Thursday. Again, the e-mail address is totn@npr.org.

Today we're discussing high-tech genealogy on the show. People interested in their family trees have traded courthouse records for search engines, chat rooms and DNA swabs. As the American passion for ancestry continues, new technology could turn up some very old relatives. Have you used DNA to try to find your ancestors? Did it work? What other tools have you used? (800) 989-8255; (800) 989-TALK.

Our guest is Colleen Fitzpatrick, author of "Forensic Genealogy," and as we mentioned at the end of the last segment, one tool that people are using is DNA testing; a simple cheek swab can sometimes answer questions beyond the scope of family photos and records. Megan Smolenyak is the author of "Trace Your Roots with DNA: Using Genetic Tests to Explore Your Family." She's with us from Audio Post Studios in Philadelphia.

Nice to have you on TALK OF THE NATION.

Ms. MEGAN SMOLENYAK (Author, "Trace Roots with DNA"): Thanks so much, Neal. Appreciate it.

CONAN: Thank you. How long has DNA testing been used for this purpose?

Ms. SMOLENYAK: It's just about five years now. We're still--I'd say we're graduating from the pioneering stage right about now.

CONAN: And how is it changing the world of genealogy?

Ms. SMOLENYAK: It's turning it on its head. It's having pretty much the same sort of effect that the Internet did about 10, 15 years ago. There were a lot of people that sort of resisted it initially, thought it was kind of cheating, trying to find a shortcut to your roots. But now it's a toy that everybody enjoys playing with, and it basically helps you go further faster.

CONAN: What can it actually tell you?

Ms. SMOLENYAK: Well, it depends on what kind of test you take. The most popular is one that's called Y-DNA and that's used mostly for surname studies and so you can get tested and you can test any other--you know, a hundred other fellows with the same surname and you'll be able to tell which of you have common ancestors and which of you don't. So it's kind of like the game of Clue, you know, Colonel Mustard in the library, sort of thing. It tells you, you know, `We want to play with these Johnsons. Don't waste your time with the ones over here.'

CONAN: How specific does it get, though?

Ms. SMOLENYAK: The Y-DNA is very specific 'cause it's passed intact from father to son down through the generations and there are very rare mutations. So pretty much--if you or I had a common ancestor through our straight paternal lines, if you lived 500 years ago, we're probably still sporting identical signatures.

CONAN: Now as I understand it, you've had your DNA tested.

Ms. SMOLENYAK: Oh, boy, have I. Yes. My poor father is my guinea pig. I get him tested for everything. Of course, I don't have a Y chromosome, being a woman...

CONAN: Right.

Ms. SMOLENYAK: ...so, yes. One of my first reasons for getting tested is because my true name is Megan Smolenyak Smolenyak. I am a Smolenyak by birth and by marriage.

CONAN: Aha.

Ms. SMOLENYAK: Yeah, take them odds, huh?

CONAN: Aren't there taboos about this sort of thing?

Ms. SMOLENYAK: Yes, I am the poster child for kissing cousins, I admit it. But one of the reasons I got tested--and it was before I got married, might I add--is I had all the Smolenyaks tested. There are only four Smolenyak families in the whole world, and we all trace our roots to one little village over in Slovakia. And we kind of assumed we had common ancestors because we all have these same roots back to the 1700s. But the paper trail petered out and we couldn't prove it. So we got all four families tested. Lo and behold, none of us matched. It's just a coincidence that we're walking around with the name Smolenyak.

CONAN: So everybody from that one area but different Smolenyaks.

Ms. SMOLENYAK: That's right. So apparently in spite of my best efforts, I failed to marry my cousin.

CONAN: Here's an e-mail question: `Can forensic genealogy trace by smaller ethnic divisions; for example, Scandinavian, Slavic, Jewish, Chinese or Japanese? How useful is it to identify more specific geographical descent?' Well, Megan Smolenyak, we'll begin with you and also get Colleen Fitzpatrick in on this.

Ms. SMOLENYAK: If that's the kind of thing--I hope that's the direction we're heading in. It's not that specific yet. This is like traditional genealogy in the sense that the beefier our databases get, the better for all of us and the more specific they'll be. But right now, most of the results will cut in fairly broad swaths. Yes, you can find broadly Europe, say Scandinavian origin, that kind of thing, kind of Viking stock. But you have to remember, these roots predate the existence of the countries and so forth, so it's not as if you're going to find a test that's going to tell you that you're of Austrian heritage.

CONAN: And, Colleen Fitzpatrick, would you agree that very broad strokes but don't get too excited about the prospects of finding lost cousins?

Ms. FITZPATRICK: Oh, yeah. I think Megan did a real good job at telling--scoping out how this works. What you wind up doing is a snip test. There's certain parts on your DNA which are like little markers to tell you what broad population groups you come from. And as more snips are discovered, you get more and more refined picture of where you come from. But they go back really long ways. It tells you your deep roots. And in that time, any geographical association that particular population would have had is now kind of homogenized, you know, in the last, say, 7 to 10,000 years. So now 'cause people move around, you know, you can only trace yourself to very large populations. And, of course, as Megan said, the more snips we find and the more refined we can get, we'll get those populations smaller and smaller and smaller. But once again you're not going to necessarily pin yourself down to, like, French or Austrian or Italian.

CONAN: Let's see if we can get another caller on the line, and this is Tony. Tony's calling us from Oakland in California.

TONY (Caller): Yes. Hi. Great program.

CONAN: Thank you.

TONY: Very much appreciate it. I just wanted to mention I use the Internet in many different ways and I was able to track my grandparents' ship's manifest and track where they came from, specific addresses in Italy, specific addresses in the United States and through that was able later to get their birth certificates and even to use census data to find where they lived in the United States. Developed this entire web here in this country of who they knew and who they married, etc. It's very useful.

CONAN: That's more up your line, Colleen Fitzpatrick.

Ms. FITZPATRICK: Yeah. I would say you're doing a good job there. I would say don't stop at just knowing where your ancestors--you know, when--the ship's name the day they arrived, but look who else is on the boat with them, because they may be significant people in their lives. Look at who else they must have lived in, in that town, in larger scope of research beyond that one person, to look at where they lived and who else they knew and were related to.

TONY: Yeah. I was looking at the census data and seeing who they lived--you can find that online--who they lived next to and it turns out some of those people later were married to each other. And the person across the street becomes...

Ms. FITZPATRICK: Yeah.

TONY: ...related later on. And...

Ms. FITZPATRICK: Yeah. It happens today; it happened a hundred years ago.

CONAN: Tony, thanks for the call.

TONY: Thank you very much.

CONAN: OK. You were about to say something, Megan?

Ms. SMOLENYAK: I was just going to say, you may also find evidence of chain immigration. Many times you find people from a particular village, say in Italy, they all emigrated to the same three or four towns in the United States. And so you'll see them helping each other. So when you look at their neighbors in the US Census records, you often find the same names that you'll find back in the village over in Italy.

CONAN: Many African-Americans in particular are turning to DNA testing to trace family histories lost in the darkness of slavery. These revelations can have complex and ambivalent results. Joining us now is Cynthia Winston, a professor of psychology at Howard University here in Washington, DC. She studies how individuals have responded to their results. She's with us from Martha's Vineyard in Massachusetts.

Thanks very much for taking time off of what must be your vacation to join us.

Professor CYNTHIA WINSTON (Howard University): Yes.

CONAN: What has the DNA test done for African-Americans in search of their past?

Hello?

Prof. WINSTON: Hello?

CONAN: Yes, Cynthia Winston?

Prof. WINSTON: Yes.

CONAN: How has DNA proved helpful to African-Americans in search of their past?

Prof. WINSTON: In the research that I've conducted, primarily with customers who've taken the African ancestry tests largely in the area of identity.

CONAN: And you've spoken with many of the African-Americans who tested their DNA. What have they told you they found out?

Prof. WINSTON: A lot of them talk about the psychological impact of taking the test. They talk about how taking the test has really helped them in terms of identifying where they're from, giving them a sense--one person in particular said that taking the test gave them a sense of freedom and power, particularly around identity issues.

CONAN: Well, what do folks do with the information?

Prof. WINSTON: Often, people talk about how they share it with family members at family reunions and other types of gatherings. And then there are other people who actually have gone to Africa where their actual lineage is drawn from. And so one of the individuals who has taken the test, in fact, has done a documentary on the experience.

CONAN: But you can see the power of this information, as you say, not simply knowing you're African or West African but from a specific area, if you will.

Prof. WINSTON: Right. From a psychological perspective, identity is one of the most important psychological struggles that a person has and this, for African-Americans, has enabled them to fill a void in their identity construction.

CONAN: Let's get another caller on the line. Terry's with us. Terry calling from Florence; I'm suspecting South Carolina.

TERRY (Caller): Yes, sir.

CONAN: Go ahead.

TERRY: Yes. I'm African-American and I am--it is hard for African-Americans to find out more about their heritage and their roots. I can go as far back as 1815, but beyond that, we hit a brick wall. I know what plantation my ancestors worked on. I live not too far from there now, but I just want to know what could you do to help us out, because this is just last weekend we had a family reunion and we talked about hiring someone to help us do more research to help us find out more about our ancestors.

CONAN: Well, Cynthia Winston, is this somebody who might get some information from DNA testing?

Prof. WINSTON: Right. I can answer that. One of the most important things that you can do is go to AfricanAncestry.com and find out about the process for taking the DNA test, because the DNA test is a test that will enable your family to trace their roots using a scientific process. So it enables you to pinpoint the particular place in Africa where your family comes from. And there are a lot of different mechanisms for a family together, pooling their resources to trace their maternal and paternal lineages.

So that's one of the most important starting places to know exactly where you're from. And then the research that I do relates to how that particular experience of finding out where your family's from, from a scientific perspective, how that's impacted your family.

CONAN: Here's an e-mail we got from Scott. `I'm a black American, and tracing my ancestry was very difficult for the reasons I'm sure you can surmise. I went through family Bibles, family folklore and visited cemeteries to dig up my personal history. I was able to track my father's lineage to a plantation in the Red River area of Louisiana. That didn't satisfy me, so I started my hunt for which tribe ethnic group in Africa I descended from. I used AfricanAncestry.com and submitted my DNA to their vast database. It cost about $650. But,' he writes, `it was money well-spent. I found my father's side was brought here from southeast Nigeria and we're part of the Ibo. And my matrilineal DNA comes from Sierra Leone and of the Mende group. I picked up a lot of books to trace their respective history in this country. I'm working on a coat of arms as we speak.' So, Terry, at least a couple of people have found that to be useful.

TERRY: Yes. Very well. Who would need to be tested? Would I need to be tested or my women in my family? Who would need to be tested?

Ms. WINSTON: It depends on the line that you want to trace, whether you want to trace your maternal or paternal line, and on AfricanAncestry.com it walks you through step by step the individual who needs to be tested based on the particular lineage that you're interested in tracing. And also, in terms of the research question that you had, you can also get a companion book; once you get your results, you will get a book written by African Ancestry that will tell you more about the particular group where you share ancestry with.

CONAN: Terry, good luck.

TERRY: Well, thank you very much.

Ms. WINSTON: Good luck.

CONAN: Bye-bye.

Ms. FITZPATRICK: Yeah. May I make a comment?

CONAN: Well, let me just thank Cynthia Winston for her time. We appreciate your breaking from your vacation to join us today.

Ms. WINSTON: No problem.

CONAN: Cynthia Winston is principal investigator of the Identity and Success Research Lab at Howard University, and joined us by phone from Martha's Vineyard in Massachusetts.

You're listening to TALK OF THE NATION from NPR News.

And go ahead. I'm sorry I interrupted.

Ms. FITZPATRICK: Well, I'm sorry for interrupting you. Yeah, thanks, Cynthia.

I just wanted to make the comment--and not to--you know, to clear up a point here--is that when you do test your African-American ancestry, you have to test the direct male or the direct female line. If you're testing a line that, say, mother-father-mother-father with male and female, it doesn't work, because there's only those two kind of DNA that remain intact. So I do know some African-Americans who went to get themselves tested and they came out as European. So you gotta keep in mind that because of, you know, just the mix of races along the way, that you might be African-American along some other line other than your direct mother or father's line.

CONAN: Let's see if we can get another caller in. This is Amanda. Amanda, calling from Columbus, Ohio.

AMANDA (Caller): Hi.

CONAN: Hi.

AMANDA: I--thanks for taking my call. I'm a college student, and I'm thinking about majoring in history. But I'm still researching it, and I was just wondering in this particular field how much is history and how much is pure science. How does that all play in together?

CONAN: Colleen Fitzpatrick, why don't you weigh in on that?

Ms. FITZPATRICK: Oh, you know, I don't see how you can separate 'em. I think that even the humanities, the languages, linguistics, art literature--you know, they always have an element of science in them, and if you can produce some interesting facts about the past or history based on some scientific or--you know, I'm not saying high-tech rocket-science stuff, but just in some reasonable investigation on your part, gosh, that's fantastic.

AMANDA: OK.

CONAN: Good luck, Amanda.

AMANDA: All right. Thank you.

CONAN: Bye-bye. And let's talk with Steve. Steve, calling from Iowa City.

STEVE (Caller): Yes, hi.

CONAN: Hi.

STEVE: Thanks for taking my call.

CONAN: Sure.

STEVE: I've been doing genealogy for about 10 years, and about two years ago I had this guy disappear from my family from the New York area, and he kind of disappeared. So my name is unusual and there's only one other group with my last name and they were in Pittsburgh, so I got ahold of these people and we've been talking for a while about it. So we went ahead and did the DNA testing, and it turns out we were related, which inspired me to go on and try to find how this person who disappeared, to prove genealogically anyway, that he was the person who went down there and began this other line. And I actually did find him. He was quite the guy. He had left under circumstances from the family where he was arrested for failing to keep his promise to marry a young woman. So he fled New York and went to Philadelphia and married somebody else, and turns out he ran away from there as well. And...

CONAN: Well, let's hope some things aren't genetic, Steve.

STEVE: Yeah. He faked his suicide and ran away, but he fathered four children, one of which went on to become a--her name was Mary Carr and she became a famous Hollywood movie actress.

CONAN: Wow.

STEVE: I found the guy out in--from this Pittsburgh thing, I tracked him--records west and I found that he lived to be 80 years old or 82, and he died in Illinois, and he was known as the mystery man and he had hinted about being the father of a Hollywood actress, and I found in the newspapers there--I went to Illinois, Springfield, and found all kinds of records in the newspapers about him being a mystery man and how Mary Carr--her family came out to claim his body. But it all got started because of the proving the connection through DNA.

CONAN: Well, it's fascinating, and thanks very much for the call, Steve. Many of us do not necessarily find such romantic and interesting stories, though I'm sure, Colleen Fitzpatrick, we're all related to princes of Tara and poets and lords and that sort of thing. Certainly no farmers ever migrated to America. Thank you very much, both, for being with us. Colleen Fitzpatrick, the author of "Forensic Genealogy," and Megan Smolenyak, who's the author of "Tracing Your Roots with DNA: Using Genetic Tests to Explore Your Family Tree."

When we come back from a break, how hot is it where you live? Send us your heat questions, your weird heat facts or just fill in the blank: How hot is it? Or, it's so hot that...

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