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Ethical dilemmas in genealogy: Dr Penny Walters at Family Tree Live


Dr Penny Walters gives us a taster of what to expect from her talk and workshops at Family Tree Live on 26 and 27 April 2019.

Dr. Penny Walters has been a University Lecturer for more than 30 years, teaching Undergraduate and Masters Psychology, and Business Studies throughout the UK. Whilst running National No Smoking Day, Penny’s doctoral work (2001) involved a national investigation into ‘Ethical Dilemmas in Health Promotion.’

Penny was adopted at birth, and, having thoroughly researching her family tree for more than 30 years, has also pursued her biological line, which has taken her back from the UK, through south Wales’ coalmines, to the Irish Famine, specifically to the southern counties of Cork and Kerry. DNA testing revealed that Penny is c91% Irish heritage, which supported the paper trail of more than ¾ of her ancestors coming from southern Ireland. This information has led to many visits to Ireland, to get the feel of where her ancestors had to leave; alongside being invited to lecture about diaspora.

Stuck at the start workshops

Penny’s experience of how an adoptee can mix DNA results with a paper trail, and for those affected by adoption, will be explained during her ‘Stuck at the start’ workshops in The Family Tree Academy Workshop Arena, on Friday 26th April, from 11.30-12.15, and then repeated on Friday from 3.30-4.15pm. The adoption workshop will also feature on Saturday 27th April, from 10.30-11.15am.

Researching black British history

Penny has mixed race children, who have all undertaken DNA tests, revealing fascinating insights into their own cultural heritages, which have inspired her lectures and articles about ethnicity and identity, finding hidden ethnicities, diaspora, enslavement, and cultural issues in family history. This interest will be explored during her workshop, ‘Researching black British family history’, which will be facilitated on Friday 26th April from 1.30-2.15pm, and on Saturday 27th April, 3.30-4.15pm. Book asap to ensure your place.

Penny guest lectures internationally and writes articles about the following genealogical topics: ethical dilemmas within genealogy; the psychology of searching; adoption; diaspora; Irish heritage; mixing DNA results with a paper trail; Ivory Coast ancestors (slave history); the professionalization of genealogy; family history in Egypt; and genealogy tourism. Penny completed the Post. Graduate Certificate in Genealogy from Strathclyde University, and was the Editor of the Journal of the Bristol & Avon Family History Society. Penny was a consultant for the recent Channel 4 television series, ‘My Family Secrets Revealed.’

Ethical dilemmas in genealogy

Penny has recently had her book ‘Ethical Dilemmas in Genealogy’ published. The lecture covering ‘Ethical Dilemmas In Genealogy’, including adoption, DNA testing and diaspora, will be on Saturday 27th April, 1-1.45pm in the MyHeritage Theatre. Book asap to ensure your place.

Previous lectures include at the APG Professional Management Conference, Kansas, USA; the Register of Qualified Genealogists’ Annual Conference; Who Do You Think You Are?; Federation of Family History Societies Annual Conference; Cork Foundation; Back To Our Past; The Name Event, London; Irish Famine Summer School; Hidden Lives, Secret Voices Conference; Society of Genealogists, London; Guild of One-Name Studies 40th Annual Conference.

Forthcoming 2019 lectures include: ‘Mixing DNA results with a paper trail,’ ‘Have you ever found your real family?’ ‘Ethical dilemmas in genealogy’ at the 51st annual BYU Conference on Family History and Genealogy, Provo, Utah, USA, 30 July - 2 August, 2019; ‘Ethical dilemmas in genealogy’ at the UK Annual Jewish Genealogical Society of Great Britain Conference, London, 20 October 2019; and a lecture ‘The Psychology of Searching’ and a panel session about ‘Ethical Dilemmas in Genealogy’ at Roots Tech London, 24-26 October 2019.

Penny’s recent Family Tree magazine articles include:

  • ‘Ethnicity and identity’ May 2019, pages 24-29
  • ‘Ethical dilemmas in genealogy’ February 2019, pages 14-20
  • ‘The Psychology of Searching’ Christmas 2017, pages 46-47

Contact: penny_walters@talk21.com


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