PROVO, Utah, April 7 /PRNewswire/ – Ancestry.com, the world’s largest online resource for family history, announced today that the late Alex Haley, author of Roots – the decisive masterpiece that inspired many Americans to take pride in their heritage – was the direct descendent of a Scottish ancestor. The discovery came through an Ancestry.com DNA test taken by Alex Haley’s nephew Chris Haley in 2007, where his results were added to a growing database of others who had taken DNA tests.
In February 2009, Chris Haley received an e-mail from a Scottish woman in the database, June Baff Black, whose father’s DNA very closely matched his. According to the DNA results, an ancestor who likely lived in the 1600 or 1700s in Scotland connects Mr. Haley with Ms. Black, making them distant cousins. Mr. Haley and Ms. Black met for the first time on Feb. 28, 2009, in London, England.
Until the confirmation by Ancestry.com, Mr. Haley had only word-of-mouth history to prove that his great-grandfather had been born of a slave mother and a white father, both of whom lived and worked on an Alabama slave plantation. This scientific finding adds weight to research conducted by Mr. Haley’s uncle, Alex Haley, in which he traced his ancestry back to Baugh (variation of Baff) – an overseer of an Alabama slave plantation – who was thought to have fathered Mr. Haley’s great-grandfather with a female slave. The story is cited in Alex Haley’s book Queen.
“Through the writing of Roots, my uncle Alex Haley sparked a fascination in researching the past. DNA testing is a continuation of that and is another way of emboldening yourself with pride. To be able to find out that you are from another part of the world, and to meet a person who shares your heritage, is an amazing experience,” said Chris Haley, who is currently the director of the Study of the Legacy of Slavery at the Maryland State Archives.
“The match between Mr. Haley and Ms. Black is a perfect example of how DNA testing can prove exceptionally useful in advancing family history, especially in cases of African-American research in which traditional channels often hit ‘brick walls,'” said DNA genealogy expert Megan Smolenyak.
Genetic genealogy is a technology that reveals family relatedness – a genetic (DNA) connection to individuals to whom you are related. Ancestry.com’s DNA kits test the paternal or maternal line by studying either the ‘Y-chromosome’ (passed from father to son) or ‘mitochondrial DNA’ (which is passed from mother to son and daughter). The Ancestry.com DNA service compares the results from one DNA test with thousands of other people in its database who have taken the same test, identifying possible matches around the world as well as supplying the recipient with rich detail about their ancient ancestry.
“This is a perfect example of what a simple cheek swab can achieve,” said Tim Sullivan, CEO of The Generations Network, Inc., parent company of Ancestry.com. “DNA testing uses science in a way that enables people to discover their ancestry where traditional research goes cold and to connect with living relatives they never knew they had.”
Ancestry.com’s DNA test results can help introduce living cousins, help you prove your genetic relation to a specific individual and trace the migration patterns ancient ancestors followed as they left Africa. Ancestry.com’s 33-marker paternal DNA test is available for $79. For more information about Ancestry.com’s DNA testing kits, visit www.dna.ancestry.com.
About Ancestry.com and The Generations Network
The Generations Network, Inc., through its flagship Ancestry.com property, is the world’s leading resource for online family history. Ancestry.com has local websites in nine countries and has digitized and put online over 7 billion names and 27,000 historical records collections over the past ten years. Since July 2006, Ancestry.com users have created 9.3 million family trees containing 915 million profiles and 18 million photographs and stories. The Generations Network also includes myfamily.com, Genealogy.com, Rootsweb.ancestry.com, MyCanvas.com, dna.ancestry.com, Family Tree Maker and Ancestry Magazine. More than 7 million unique visitors spent over 3 million hours on a TGN website in January 2009 (comScore Media Metrix, Worldwide).