Shore Road Students Determine if Anna Anderson was Anastasia

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Shore Road sixth-graders joined thousands of former forensic scientists in their quest to determine whether Anna Anderson’s claim that she was Anastasia Romanov, the daughter of the last Russian Tsar, was valid. Through a workshop with Cold Spring Harbor DNA Learning Center, the students studied various physical and DNA analysis to determine the truth of her statement made in 1922.

Anna Anderson was best known as one of several imposters who said to be the Grand Duchess Anastasia of Russia and the youngest daughter of Tsar Nicholas II. After the remains of Tsar Nicholas II and his family were found, DNA analysis was used to determine whether she was the princess. A private investigation using physical and DNA analysis later determined that Anna Anderson was Franziska Schanzkowska, a Polish factory worker with mental illness. 
 
“The goal here today is to use DNA for analysis to understand how to identify an individual in any criminal or civil investigation,” explained Cold Spring Harbor DNA Learning Center teacher Pauline McGlone.  
   
The students utilized the process of DNA sequencing patterns, the family tree, and the study of mitochondrial DNA to determine the truth behind Anna Anderson’s claim. Using computer programming and the process of elimination, the students determined who was missing at the tsar’s burial ground through the study of key bone characteristics, including whether wisdom teeth were missing, if the rings on vertebrae were present and if the pelvis was that of a male or female.