While DNA science challenges such Mormon beliefs as Israelite ancestry for Native Americans, it promises fresh pursuits for genealogists. Particularly suggestive is our ability, notably publicized by Cambridge geneticist Bryan Sykes’s Seven Daughters of Eve, to track mitochondrial DNA mutations to seven European “clan mothers”, and beyond them, to African ancestresses. Traditionally overshadowed by surname-conferring bloodlines, our matrilineal pedigree remains a vital influence on identity. This essay examines how my own engagement with four hundred years and ten generations of Germanic foremothers connects me to my genetic past, and ten long-lived North Frisian women, in ways likely to elude a genealogist focused on baptizing deceased relations. “Feminist genealogy” pays tribute to the women, named on the bottom of our pedigree charts, who publish their history in our genes.
Karen Marguerite Moloney