Ancestors Tree


Students will:

Use a death record as a source of medical history and family history.



Cancer: an abnormal mass of tissue (tumor) of potentially unlimited growth that can become death threatening.

Gene: the chemical unit that contains the dominant and recessive traits that are passed on from one generation of species to the next.

Genetics: a branch of biology that deals with the traits inherited through genes.

Genealogy: the science of studying about our ancestors (also called family history).





Episode Overview

This episode shows how family history can be used to discover a family’s medical history. Part one introduces Carol Krause. She never imagined that her family history would save her life. Because Carol created a family medical pedigree documenting her ancestors’ health, she was able to save her life and the lives of her sisters. In part two, experts Vickie Venne and Raymond White will show how to begin building your own medical pedigree.

Before Viewing the Episode

  • Duplicate the student handout on the next page.
  • Read aloud the EPISODE OVERVIEW and OBJECTIVE.
  • Briefly review the VOCABULARY words with your students.

After Viewing the Episode

Use a death record as a source of medical history and family history

  • Share the following background information with your students:

Genetic Scientists have discovered that:
-- Traits passed on from one generation to the next are found in many paired genes of the parents.
-- We receive half our genes from our father, and half from our mother.
-- Our bodies possibly contain as many as one hundred thousand genes.
-- Sometimes genes that carry the code for producing certain diseases are passed on from one generation to the next.

Activity 2
Create a medical family tree of a family disease

  • Distribute the student handout.
  • Encourage your students to see how much they can learn about a person’s life from a death certificate. The death certificate for Bertha Moore contains information about her medical condition and other events and individuals in her life. Use the following questions about Carol’s Aunt Bertha to stimulate discussion. They are the same questions as on the student handout.

1. What was her full name?
(See #3a: Bertha Moore)

2. What do you suppose was her maiden name?
(See #11: her father’s surname was "Krause" She probably was born Bertha Krause.)

3. What was her husband’s name?
(see #6b: Leslie R. Moore)

4. Do you think that the person listed as the informant was a reliable source of the information?
(See #15a: Informant - her husband - Leslie R. Moore - a reliable source.)

5. What was the immediate cause of her death?
(See #20: Carcinoma of the ovary.)

6. Approximately how long after her exploratory surgery did she die?
(See #20: Operation date - March 9, 1942 and death date - August 18, 1942 -- total time: 5 months and nine days.)

7. How old was she when she died?
(See #8: 32 years - 2 months - 26 days)

8. In addition to her operation and death dates, what two other events and dates are given about her?
(Birth: May 23, 1910 - See # 7 and Burial: Aug. 22, 1942 - See #16a)

9. What was the name of the township where she died?
(See #1b: Township - Westport)

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