Traditional measurements of genetic ancestry rarely offer information on specific ancestors in a family tree. A new approach to genetic ancestry developed by Stanford researchers yields insight into African American history by providing estimates of the number of African and European genealogical ancestors in typical family trees.
Family trees, photo albums, and grandparents are often the go-to sources of information for people curious to know who their relatives were. Genetic ancestry is also a useful tool, but these measurements typically provide data on percentages of different populations in a person’s ancestry, not on specific people. Now, a new study led by researchers from Stanford and the University of Southern California introduces a new way to think about genetic ancestry, revealing information that approximates the number of people from a source population.
The researchers apply this new approach to the genetic and genealogical history of African Americans from the 1600s to the present to estimate the number of African and European ancestors who appear in a randomly chosen African American person’s genealogy. The authors provide context for their results by using a historical book written about several generations of the family of Michelle Obama, the former first lady of the United States, as an example.
You can read more in an article by Holly Alyssa MacCormick published in the Stanford.edu web site at: https://news.stanford.edu/2023/07/10/new-genealogy-method-helps-fill-gaps-african-american-ancestry/.