Over the summer, I researched my genetics and genealogy. I sent my DNA to a few lab for genetic testing (African Ancestry, 23 and Me, Ancestry.com). I am still waiting 3 of 4 test results. The results I did get back were insightful (Chromosomes Report). I also traveled to Bainbridge, GA to do field research. There were three main components to the research: use database to find historical documents on ancestors, talk to the oldest living members of my family, and visit graves sites of my ancestors. The culmination of the research will be an ancestral family reunion in 2023.
I spent a few weeks binge watching genetic conferences. My favorite being The African Diaspora: Integrating Culture, Genomics and History. The National Human Genome Research Institute, the National Museum of African American History and Culture, and the National Museum of Natural History held a full-day symposium that brought together scholars, scientists and practitioners from various disciplines who are exploring the African Diaspora throughout historical, cultural and genomic lenses with the purpose of understanding a person’s ancestry and how that impacts individual health and collective identity.
By watching these conferences, I learned the complexity of genetics and how genetics can deconstruct the social construction of race and vice versa. This is image that see above is called an admixture test. Admixture analysis (more properly known as biogeographical ancestry analysis) is a method of inferring someone’s geographical origins based on an analysis of their genetic ancestry. An admixture analysis is one of the components of an autosomal DNA test. Companies which offer such tests include 23andMe, Family Tree DNA, Ancestry.com (ISOGG).
I also took two Y-chromosome DNA test with African Ancestry. The test traces my paternal ancestry by analyzing the Y-chromosome that males inherit exclusively form their fathers. I took one for my dad, grandfather, great grandfather linage. And to find out the linage of my grandmothers male linage, I had her brothers children take it. This test uses genomic markers and African Ancestries exclusive African Lineage Database which is the largest and most comprehensive resource of African lineages available today, to find maternal and paternal lineages from more than 30 African countries and several hundred ethnic groups.
Anstory.com was a huge help in following paper trails (censuses, voter lists, birth, marriage, and death records, military, school, taxes, land, and probates records.) And we gathered many obituaries from our personal family archive.
Wow! This process is intensive. You need this to back up your genetics. The admixture test says that I have 8% European. Okay. Let’s find out when and where that happen at! We come from Africa. Okay lets find out who, where, when, why, how!
This file to see above is 50 pages. And it is only from one linage from generation. There are 16 linage other linage from some generation. There is thousands of page of ancestors and family to find and record. I found that when I found an answer to one puzzle piece that produced four more sides to solve.
I visited 10 seniors during my trip, and it was the highlight. I told them what I found; they told me stories of what they know. It was such a glorious time. Many were so helpful. But some didn’t know much because how far back I was. They didn’t know much about there grandparents and great grandparents. I heard again and again that black folk in my family didn’t talk or tell to much. to their kids. Therefore their kids don’t know to much. And therefore that history is gone forever. There will be things that I will never know and that’s okay.
I visited many grave sites. This grave site in particular was a miraculous find! I find it through a death record. Once I found it, I found my great great great grandmother and grandfathers grave and tombstone still intact. No one alive in my family has seen it! It was an incredible discovery!