Saturday, October 22, 2005

The Mother of Genetealogy

Megan Smolenyak Smolenyak (the genealogist so nice they named her twice) dropped me a line yesterday. If the name sounds familiar, glance over at your bookshelf.

Despite her other accomplishments, I think Megan's most lasting contribution will be the coining of "genetealogy." A check of Google shows 9,890 search results for the word. The real mark of success will be when Google stops asking "Did you mean: genealogy?"

Of course, these days giving currency to a coined word requires registering it as a domain name: a requirement Megan has satisfied. is her genetic genealogy resource guide, and a place where we all can contribute to her research.

Two online surveys have been completed—on genetealogy participation and the motivations of genealogists. The latter survey produced some interesting results under the heading, "What is the most extreme thing you’ve ever done in the quest for your roots?" My favorite answers:

Got on a plane and flew 3,000 to a reunion where I didn't know anyone.

[D]rove 500 miles to see nothing-- there was no grave!

Crawled through a cemetery in the dark with my cousin looking for unmarked graves.

Thinking about exhuming my father for a DNA test.

Used a manual microfilm reader for 10 straight hours with both wrists in medically applied splints.
The current survey is on the Impact of the Internet and DNA Testing, and will take just a few minutes of your time. Even less if you don't what "DNA testing" means.

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