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Darwin-L Message Log 1:89 (September 1993)

Academic Discussion on the History and Theory of the Historical Sciences

This is one message from the Archives of Darwin-L (1993–1997), a professional discussion group on the history and theory of the historical sciences.

Note: Additional publications on evolution and the historical sciences by the Darwin-L list owner are available on SSRN.


<1:89>From DARWIN@iris.uncg.edu  Fri Sep 10 12:48:31 1993

Date: Fri, 10 Sep 1993 13:54:36 -0400 (EDT)
From: DARWIN@iris.uncg.edu
Subject: History of genealogy
To: darwin-l@ukanaix.cc.ukans.edu
Organization: University of NC at Greensboro

John Langdon's mention of genealogy in his introduction prompts a question.
Can anyone tell me if there is any good literature on the history of (human)
genealogy as a subject of study?  I have been interested for some time in the
history of the branching "genealogical" diagrams used in evolutionary
biology, historical linguistics, and manuscript studies, diagrams that may be
collectively referred to as "trees of history", and will post a bibliography
on them sometime soon.  My question about human genealogy as a subject is a
bit vague in my mind, but perhaps I could focus it into two general areas:

(1) The language of "root", "branch", "scion", etc. to refer to the
relationships of persons and groups of people is ancient certainly.  Is this
a universal metaphor in all cultures, or is it, say, Indo-European?  Has
anyone ever seen anything on how Classical authors, for example, use the
metaphor of a tree to describe the historical relationships among people?

(2) When animal and plant breeding become practiced seriously people must
begin talking about the pedigrees of animals just as they do/did of people.
Are there any histories of animal or plant breeding (say before 1850) that
talk about the representation of relationships among breeds by means of
branching genealogical diagrams?  The tradition of animal and plant breeding
influenced Darwin quite a bit, and I wonder what he might have found in that
literature in the way genealogical diagrams.  The literature on the history
of such diagrams in systematics I know fairly well, but I am largely ignorant
of the literature on animal and plant breeding in the agricultural sense.

(Incidentally, the word "pedigree" means "foot of the crane", something like
this:

        \  |  /
         \ | /
          \|/
           |
           |


Please feel free to post replies to the list.  Many thanks.

Bob O'Hara, Darwin-L list owner

Robert J. O'Hara (darwin@iris.uncg.edu)
Center for Critical Inquiry and Department of Biology
100 Foust Building, University of North Carolina at Greensboro
Greensboro, North Carolina 27412 U.S.A.

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