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Dna and African American Family Genealogy Research

In the mid-1970s, Alex Haley’s book Roots and the later television miniseries based on the book sparked a great interest in genealogy among Americans, and particularly African Americans who were eager to learn more about their ancestry. Haley had identified an ancestor, Kunta Kinte, from the Mandinka ethnic group, who had been kidnapped and enslaved from the region that is now The Gambia, West Africa.

Extensive and expensive research such as Haley’s is beyond the means of most. However, in the late 1990s, a new method of tracing ancestral origins gained attention: DNA fingerprinting.

DNA’s Role in Genealogy

Just as courts apply DNA testing to identify “deadbeat dads,” or police investigators use it to link crimes such as rape to a specific individual, ...

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