How can I use DNA to trace African ancestors?

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How can I use DNA to trace African ancestors?

Postby bimjim » Tue Feb 07, 2012 1:53 pm

How can I use DNA to trace African ancestors brought to America as slaves?


While the use of DNA in genealogy can be applied to virtually every pedigree chart, perhaps those who can see its immediate value are those who have little hope of filling in their lines with traditional genealogical methods. This is especially true for individuals of African descent whose ancestors were displaced by the Trans-Atlantic slave trade.

First, let’s explore haplogroups. When researching African American ancestry on your direct paternal line, the majority of individuals will find themselves in haplogroup E1b1a. A direct maternal line in an African American will likely be haplogroup L2. Having one of these haplogroups is your first confirmation of African ancestry.

Second, find genetic cousins. The best way to find individuals to whom you are related in a genealogical timeframe is to search available . databases like GeneTree. Finding a good genetic match (sharing an exact mtDNA profile, or having 3 or fewer differences from another individual’s YDNA) means that you have found a genetic cousin, and you can begin to use traditional genealogical methods to find a shared ancestor.

DNA testing can provide a much needed resource for unraveling the past. However, challenges are likely. Many times, even if you do find a match, that person’s genealogy does not extend back further than your own. While there is comfort in not being alone in your predicament, your search for answers continues.

Even though seeking your African roots can have difficult moments, don’t despair! As more individuals are tested and more advanced techniques become available, the mystery of Africa is unraveling, and you may just find yourself woven in the tapestry.
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