I had the pleasure of attending a very informative talk by Megan Smolenyak at the Secaucus Public Library, hosted by the Hudson County Genealogical Society. Genetealogy is a term that Megan coined for the growing offshoot of genealogy focusing on how genetics can supplement traditional genealogical research.
I've sat through other genetic genealogy talks and read dozens of articles, so I had a general understanding of the topic. Megan's talk, however, was wonderful as she reviewed each of the genetic testing options and how they relate to genealogy. She highlighted many misconceptions about DNA & genealogy, and suggested ways to counter them when persuading those stubborn relatives who haven't opened their mouths for you to swab.
Many genealogists are driven to research to find deeper connections to their ancestors. What better way than through the DNA running throughout our bodies! One quote from Megan really caught my attention. She said we are all "living representatives of our ancestors," which is a great way of looking at this. All men carry the same Y-Chromosome as their male ancestors, and women share common MtDNA with their female ancestors.
What I love about Megan's talks is that she keeps them very current. Her active role in the industry allows her to share trends she has observed and make predictions as to where this all may lead. She relates which projects are just launching, and which have been around (and thus have a larger DNA sampling databases).
While I had a Y-33 test done of myself back at the end of 2007, there haven't been any exact matches yet, but a quick check on DNA.Ancestry.com is showing more close matches have appeared since my last visit. Megan shared with the group the websites that have DNA searches, so I really should take my haplotype data and check for matches in those other projects. My quick visit to DNA.Ancestry.com also revealed they have refined their haplogroup predictions. When I got the results in 2007 they said it was J2. Now they are saying its J2a1h, also known as the "Cultivators".
If you hear about an upcoming Megan speaking event in your area, make sure you attend. If you don't have that luxury, you can always purchase her Trace Your Roots with DNA book and perhaps learns some new tricks for breaking down those brick walls.
Thanks go to the Hudson County Genealogical Society for hosting this excellent genealogy session. If you have roots in Hudson County, New Jersey, be sure to join this group. They publish a quarterly newsletter that includes a schedule of upcoming meetings.