Mapping Family Trees with DNA

By Susan Wenner Premium

 Two research projects are looking for DNA to map family trees across the globe. Scientists at Brigham Young University hope to get blood samples from 100,000 people to create a DNA database that reconstructs family trees back 15 generations. Once the database is complete, researchers for BYU’s Molecular Genealogy Project hope to determine an individual’s ancestry based on unique genetic markers, instead of using traditional records and oral history. Learn more about this project at <>.

This summer, researchers from the University of South Carolina and Boston University collected cheek cells of black males in South Carolina, Georgia, Boston and West Africa for DNA testing. They are attempting to link African-Americans, black Carribean people and black Europeans to their ancestral tribes, families and ethnic groups in the West African countries in which the slave trade operated. These countries include Senegal, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Sierra Leone, Nigeria and Angola. However, the project’s leader, Dr. Bruce Jackson of Boston University, says, “Mounting evidence suggests that many slaves came from the interior of Africa and were only brought to these countries on the coast where the slave ships were.” To test these theories, the researchers have started the DNA testing and hope to have the first matches within a year.

From the December 2001 issue of Family Tree Magazine