DNA – The Ultimate Link
Introducing Our Guest Blogger, Bennett Greenspan, President of Family Tree DNA
Genealogy is the ultimate ‘family social network’ because it unites and reunites long lost and far flung family members. During the past 4 centuries our ancestors have spread out from (basically) European roots and traveled to all corners of the world… in most cases carrying only the clothes on their backs and their name with them…. and that’s the point… they carried their names with them.
Since the advent of DNA testing for genealogy (and anthropology) began in earnest in 2000 over 350,000 people worldwide have tested either their paternal lineage or their maternal lineage, or both. (Note: sons receive both a Y chromosome from their fathers and their mothers’ mitochondria while daughters only receive mom’s mitochondria…not fair, but we are dealing with Mother Nature). Databases for comparison purposes have begun to offer tantalizing opportunities for matching… and real social and familial networking. The market has evolved from one of skepticism… “You want MY DNA… are you nuts?", to guarded interest, and now, in 2007 to cocktail conversation ("My ancestors were Vikings even though we’ve lived in England for 1000 years").
"Armchair Anthropologist” seems to be the watchword of the year as newspapers, magazines and blogger’s have gotten into the act. Of recent note was the Vanity Fare masthead (July 2007) which showed nearly every magazine employees’ Haplogroup—the branch of the tree that one descends from. Other interesting examples of the social nature of genetic testing was the reunion, in Harlem this spring of the West family which united, or reunited the sons of colonial plantation owners cousin who were borne of an African mother and a slave owning father. It might sound like a cliché, but in the arena the best is likely yet to come…stay tuned.