News & Events
For Release on November 15, 2007
HARVARD PROFESSOR HENRY LOUIS GATES, JR. JOINS FORCES WITH FAMILY TREE DNA TO LAUNCH
Innovative Partnership Offers African Americans Unprecedented Choices in Search
BOSTON--, AfricanDNA.com, the first company dedicated to offering both genetic testing
and genealogical tracing services for African Americans, is being launched this
month by Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Alphonse Fletcher University Professor and Director
of the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research at Harvard
University, in partnership with the Inkwell Foundation and Family Tree DNA, the
world's leader in genetic genealogy. The precedent-setting site is the only company
in the field of genetic genealogy that will provide African Americans with family
tree research in addition to DNA testing.
Gates, a celebrated author, educator and social critic, is a strong advocate of
the value and benefits of genetic genealogy for African Americans. Noting that the
process is still in its infancy, he says: "Most people don't realize it, but their
roots are on the tips of their tongues. The available DNA data are not by any means
complete, and these tests will not yield the names of any of the individuals on
our distant family trees-just the general geographic areas in which our ancestors
lived. Sometimes the tests yield multiple exact tribal matches, making it necessary
for historians to interpret the most plausible result."
AfricanDNA is the only company that offers
the service of scholars interpreting multiple matches when compared to the database.
A board of historical consultants will include Dr. Fatimah Jackson, Professor, Applied
Biological Anthropology, University of Maryland; Dr. Linda Heywood and Dr. John
Thornton, both African historians at Boston University; Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham,
Professor of History and of African and African American Studies (Chair) at Harvard
University; and Dr. David Eltis, director of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Database
at Emory University.
Gates comments that "sometimes African Americans will discover that their DNA can
be traced to a white ancestor, especially on the father's side, because of slavery.
About 30 percent of the African American male population has a white male ancestor."
AfricanDNA.com offers two premium tests. The Maternal Test (Female-mtDNA) is a high-resolution
mtDNA test that looks at the mitochondria received by both men and women from their
mothers. The Paternal Test, exclusively for males, is a Y-DNA test that details
the inherited Y-chromosome. Both tests' results will include placement in the ancestral
tree of humankind. Tests will be processed at the Genomic Analysis and Technology
Core laboratory at the University of Arizona, headed by Dr. Michael Hammer. The
renowned geneticist has been associated with Family Tree DNA since the company's
inception. Both Family Tree DNA and the University of Arizona lab are respected
for their commitment to stringent scientific standards and privacy guidelines.
Singular in the world of genealogy and genetics is AfricanDNA.com's Genealogy Package.
This unique product offers documented genealogical tracing of lineage as far back
as records permit. Although former slaves, freed at the time of the Civil War, first
appeared in the Federal census in 1870, many other records of African Americans
under slavery still exist. Genealogists even discovered that Gates' 4th great-grandfather-a
Free Negro named John Redman-fought in the American Revolution, leading to Gates'
induction into the SAR (Sons of the American Revolution). DNA test takers who opt
for the Genealogy Package will receive a customized family tree prepared by the
AfricanDNA.com genealogy services group.
Genetic results of AfricanDNA customers will be compared with the database of Family
Tree DNA, the most extensive comparative database of DNA test results in the world,
including African results provided by leading anthropologists worldwide. These comparisons
will point many AfricanDNA clients toward their African origins. A percentage of
all profits will be donated to the Inkwell Foundation, dedicated to reforming the
teaching of science and history in inner city schools using genetic and genealogical
Long interested in genealogical research and DNA testing and particularly African
DNA, Gates is the author of Finding Oprah's Roots, Finding Your Own (Crown, 2007)
and the forthcoming In Search of Our Roots: How 19 Extraordinary African Americans
Reclaimed Their Past, to be published next spring (Crown, 2008). He is also the
host and executive producer of the critically acclaimed 2006 PBS series "African
American Lives" and its follow-up, "Oprah's Roots." "African American Lives 2" will
be broadcast on PBS in February, 2008 in conjunction with Black History Month. Professor
Gates is Editor-in-Chief of the Oxford African American Studies Center, the first
comprehensive scholarly online resource in the field of African American and African
Studies. Gates, an influential cultural critic, has written for Time Magazine, The
New Yorker and the New York Times. The recipient of 48 honorary degrees and a 1981
MacArthur Foundation "Genius Award," Henry Louis Gates, Jr. received a National
Humanities Medal in 1998, and in 1999 was elected to the American Academy of Arts
Family Tree DNA, founded in April 2000, was the first company to develop the commercial
application of DNA testing for genealogical purposes, which, until then, had only
been available for academic and scientific research. Today, Family Tree DNA's database
exceeds 165,000 individual test records (roughly 110,000 Y-DNA and 55,000 mtDNA
tests), making it the prime source for researching recent and distant family ties.
Additionally, Family Tree DNA administers over 4400 surname projects, comprising
some 65,000 unique surnames.
For further information, contact us at: 713-868-1438
In the Press