The Center for African-American Genealogical Research, Inc. (CAAGI), genetic genealogy company FamilyTreeDNA, and the Public Records and Archives Administration Deartment of Ghana (PRAAD) are embarking on a project that may improve the ability of DNA tests to estimate African-Americans origins in Africa.
DNA tests designed to analyze origins in Africa often lead to more questions than answers because relatively little is known about the diverse genetics of African tribes. The tested persons DNA is compared against a database of modern Africans’ DNAbut because of historical migration in Africa, the DNA of a given areas modern residents may not match its original inhabitants.
Ghana (formerly the Gold Coast), located in Western Africa, was the source of an estimated million-plus African slaves. FamilyTreeDNA will test several hundred members of the Nzema, Ga, Fante, Ewe and Asante tribes, all of which were part of the slave trade.
The DNA will be gathered at a workshop CAAGI is conducting this Friday at the PRAAD offices in Accra, Ghana, as part of its Sankofa project to use traditional genealogical sources and DNA to reconnect African families. Attendees will learn about online genealogy databases, preservation of song lyrics and photographs, transcription of family stories, and forensic genealogy.
Ghana was once a UK colony where British, Dutch and Danish merchants traded. PRAAD has a Slave Trade Archives project with microfilm on Danish activities in Ghana from 1658 to 1850; some of the film is digitized online.
Addition: Bennett Greenspan, president of FamilyTreeDNA, provided a bit more information on this project.
Greenspan believes the results, which should be available in three to four months, will absolutely help improve analysis of African-Americans origins in genetic genealogy tests.
The results of this outreach will be to both increase the size of the FamilyTreeDNA/AfricanDNA.com comparative databases and the results will also be added to the permanent Hammer collection at the University of Arizona, who will publish on the results of these and other outreach missions to Africa,” Greenspan says. “In that way, the data will be published and available to all researchers of Africa.
The University of Arizona’s Hammer Lab is managed by Michael Hammer, FamilyTreeDNA’s chief scientist. AfricanDNA.com is the African-American genealogy research firm of Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates.