Slovenian DNA Pool at SUA 2019 Convention

In honor of the Slovenian American Heritage the President of Slovenian Union of America, Ms. Mary Lou Deyak Voelk, requested the pleasure of our company as presenters and guests at the National Convention “Let’s Sing and Dance”.

On 14th of January 2018 I have received an e-mail on behalf of DNA club of Slovenian Genealogy Society:

“Vlasta, I am Mary Lou Deyak Voelk, President of the Slovenian Union of America.  I have been thinking about a gene pool for a long time. We are having a convention in Cleveland in 2019 and I thought this would be a great way to celebrate the organizations 94th anniversary!

I believe the way to keep the Slovenian heritage alive in the USA, is to link people with their ‘family’ back home in Slovenia, people will become interested in research, finding long lost relatives. One is my family on my grandmother’s side.  I cannot find anyone!!!”

The S.U.A. National Convention took place in Cleveland, Ohio with the moto: “Let’s Sing & Dance!” to highlight the musical history of Slovenians. Everybody enjoyed lively events from Thursday, June 13, starting with strolling musician, Joey Tomsick,  to Sunday, June 16, 2019, finishing with Slovenian Mass at St. Vitus Church, the 1st documented Slovenian immigrant church (1893) in the US. Beside social gatherings and Cleveland tours, with many opportunities to connect with SUA members, business and educational sessions took part. Two lectures about professional musicians, who started rising at the beginning of the 20th Century in the US, gave a great overview of music history. Especially Joe Valencic, who runs also a Polka museum in Cleveland, gave a comprehensive overview of accordion players in Cleveland, the Slovenian Capital outside of Slovenia. Two peaks of the social gathering were a celebration of the 90th birthday of the SUA official magazine Zarja with Joey Tomsick Orchestra and the Convention Banquet with the Frank Moravcik Band and speakers: Slovenian ambassador in US, Washington DC, Slovenian consul in Cleveland, Joe Valencic, and many others.

Where does a lecture on genetic genealogy fit? You will not believe: at the very first day of the SUA 2019 National Convention in Marriott East (26300 Harvard Road, Warrensville Heights) on Thursday afternoon, just after a welcome reception! Smaller meeting room needed to be replaced by a hall where more than 120 people fit. Two speakers from Slovenia were invited: Peter Hawlina and Vlasta Knapič. Both are the main promoters of genetic genealogy in Slovenia, investing in testing and organising DNA projects within FamilyTreeDNA. Peter Hawlina is the SGS president emeritus and enthusiastic genealogist. In Hawlina group we can research among results of three generations of Hawlina close relatives and also his remote cousins.

On behalf of the SGS Vlasta has recently created a project group within the Family Tree DNA portal: the Slovenian origin, to be able to compare results of anybody of Slovenian origin, who joins the project. Beside DNA results every record contains genealogy data, including ancestral surnames and places of origin. This new platform enables interactive communication among project members in the “Activity feed”, where a member can ask questions, share photos and ask for help in interpreting genealogy data in English. Our country name has been already years ago taken by another dual-project group based on geographic origin and surnames, run by Slovenian Genealogy Society International. Talks to merge both initiatives into one project – the “Slovenian DNA Pool” are on their way.

If people wish to interact with other Slovenian genetic genealogists and upgrade their DNA tests in the future (mtDNA, Y-DNA, or dual based internal project groups), they should either test atDNA at Family Tree DNA or transfer their raw data from other providers, like: Ancestry, 23andMe, or myHeritage (download) and upload the file to the Family Tree DNA. Start with creating an account and follow the instructions. Hoping to see you soon at FT-DNA Slovenian origin project group, where we can also interact in closed group activity feed with the other members of the group. Later you will be guided to provide your grandparents origin and surnames.

As there is no genetic genealogy without a classic genealogy,  the 4-steps-Slovenian-origin-2019 – exploring your ancestral origin can be followed by:

  • Identification of your ancestors, who came to the USA from Europe a Century ago from places in Austria, Hungary, Italy, or Krain, Steiermark…
  • Identification of ancestral places of origin and original family names is crucial for successful research. Learn more.
  • Create your family tree as detailed as possible. Use the official historical records as a source of information. Fill in the Pedigree_form and Family_record_form.
  • Test your atDNA or upload at Family Tree DNA. Your grandfather is closer to Slovenian origin than you. Test the older members of the family first. Join FTDNA.

Mary Lou has been satisfied with the outcome of the DNA talks and interest at the convention. “Believe it, our people were reintroduced to themselves. They come from a long history of people.” Already among the first 100 people in a project group, Mary Lou has been able to find few of her remote cousins in Slovenia. Including me.

Presentation: 4 Steps of exploring your family history of Slovenian origin.