Archiver > GENEALOGY-DNA > 2004-10 > 1098751436

From: "Ted McClellan" <>
Subject: Re: [DNA] Jefferson-Hemings DNA
Date: Mon, 25 Oct 2004 17:44:10 -0700
References: <>

The Jefferson~Hemings question was the subject of a special issue of the
National Genealogical Society Quarterly, Volume 89, No 3, September 2001.
The feature article written by Helen F. M. Leary, CG, CGL, FASG, FNGS, was
“Sally Hemings’s Children: A Genealogical Analysis of the Evidence”. This
article, a little over forty pages, includes a short discussion of the DNA
evidence but is principally focused on the issues, traditions and arguments
and how they fare with actual genealogical research. The conclusion includes
the following: “Credible evidence is presented honestly without trimming off
uncomfortable bits that prevent its fitting someone’s preconceptions.
Competent analysis views the evidence in terms of its own background context
and its relation to all the rest of the evidence. Genealogical Proof rests
on an unbroken chain that ties the problem to its solution – not on a series
of isolated links, any one of which is inadequate for the task. In this case
the chain of evidence securely fastens Sally Hemings’s children to their
father Thomas Jefferson.”

This publication also contains a review essay by Thomas W. Jones Ph. D., CG,
CGL, on “The ‘Scholars Commission’ Report on the Jefferson~Hemings Matter:
An Evaluation by Genealogical Proof Standards”. The tone of this review is
stated early, “the Jefferson~Hemings Scholars Commission – an impressive
panel of distinguished academics – has attempted to answer what is basically
a genealogical question, without genealogical credentials or expertise. As a
result, the work is ineffective in answering the issue it addresses.”

Another review essay by Joshua D. Rothman, Ph. D., is “Can the ‘Character
Defense’ Survive? Measuring Polar Positions in the Jefferson~Hemings
Controversy by Standards of History”. This review has additional facts and
similar conclusions to the above articles.

The often quoted DNA analysis is supportive but the genealogical evidence
that Thomas Jefferson fathered one or more of the Hemings children is much
more significant. This special issue of the Quarterly is available in many
libraries and from

Ted McClellan

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