I’ve been meaning to update my blog about my recent genealogy efforts. For my birthday this year I purchased myself an Ancestry.com DNA test. The results came back a lot faster than I expected. One thing with ancestry.com versus other websites is that it links your DNA with your family tree on ancestry.com. It also will show people who are related to you in their system. When I got my results, the first person on my list was labeled as a potential first or second cousin. Well after speaking with her I discovered that she was my dad’s first cousin. I knew nothing about her, had nothing about her family on my tree and yet ancestry.com connected her correctly to me. That gave me confidence that it was pretty accurate.
My genetic break down was 77% West African, 13% British and 7% Finnish initially (the rest was unknown), it has since changed as Ancestry.com updated their system. I loved that my African ancestry was so strong. So often in the black community people assume that more European features or lighter skin means that you have a higher percentage of European ancestry. I’ve studied my family’s genealogy enough to know that outward appearance is not always a strong reflection of genetic makeup. Or when you think about African Americans who descended from slaves, we know that all of us have some white ancestry somewhere down the line so complexion and features may not always be a good indicator.
My main goal for doing my DNA was the genealogy connections it could provide. I initially did my own and connected with people who showed up as third or fourth cousins. The problem is I had no clue what side of the family they were on. To help isolate who was who, I also tested my mother and grandmother. That was a huge help! From there I was able to tell who was from my father’s side and my maternal grandfather’s side as well without even testing them. It definitely has helped narrow down how I am connected to some people and thus enabled us to find our common ancestors. I have yet to find any for sure common ancestors yet with those who are more distant cousins, but that has not stopped me from trying. I think eventually some of us will find the connection and if not, it’s cool knowing we are related.
This month Ancestry.com update their DNA profiles and provided more details and more breakdowns. Before it would just say West African, now it gives you more specific regions and the modern day country. I also now have more details on my European Ancestry. Whereas before it only showed British and Finnish, now it’s showing those two plus, Irish, Italian, Scandinavia and Iberian Peninsula.
I remember as a child my dad telling me that there was an Italian ancestor and low and behold a less than one percent of Italian showed up on my DNA profile today with the extended profile. It did not show up on my mother and grandmother’s profile, so I assume that falls in line with the story my dad told me when I was a little girl. It was great to see that the oral history that has been passed down for generations appears to be supported by DNA.
Oh and what you are not going to see is a large percentages of “Native American”. Contrary to popular belief African Americans do not have the percentages of Native American that we’ve been led to believe. On my dad’s side, they have pretty well documented Native American ancestry. I do have small percentages of Asian ancestry, less than one percent, which may be account for the Native American ancestry. Some theories are that Native Americans in North America came over from Asia forever ago so it’s very possible that is where it comes from. You hear so many people claim to be a quarter Native American and I can say from the three profiles I’ve done and the others African American profiles I’ve seen on ancestry.com, I’ve yet to see anyone with a large percentage of anything that can be linked back to Native Americans so I’m going to call that a myth.
I plan on doing one of the more expensive DNA tests through National Geographic or another company eventually. I will post to my blog when I do. I also plan on testing a few other family members to see what we find. For example I have a cousin who has African American and Vietnamese ancestry so I will be interested to see if the test picks up on that accurately. Overall I would say I think it’s worth it. It may not be as accurate as they claim it is but it’s interesting for a person like myself.