African American Lives
Analyzing the Evidence
The Science and the Investigators
Who am I? A Genealogy Guide
Sharing Stories
For Educators
About the Series

The Science and the Investigators
Intro Race and Science The Tests Learning from DNA
Introduction: Beyond genealogy
Over the past decade, population geneticists have made remarkable strides in deciphering the evolution and migration of early human beings, broadening our knowledge of how the first small bands of explorers to leave Africa changed over time to become the populations we've known historically as racial and ethnic groups. Working with DNA, scientists have been able to give us insight into how these groups moved around the world, and in the process they've discovered a way to tell us much about who our ancestors might have been.

Detail of a map of migration patterns over the course of human evolution. Picture of a man swabbing his cheek for cells to donate for a DNA testing program.
New advances in the understanding of the human genome are transforming our understanding of the evolution of human beings -- and making us rethink the very definition of that difficult concept we know as "race."

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Beginning with a simple cheek swab, the latest DNA tests can reveal a huge amount of information about our ancestry. Learn about what the most popular testing methods have to teach us about our pasts.

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Detail of a computer readout of a DNA sequence
While DNA testing can uncover a surprising amount of data, as you've seen in AFRICAN AMERICAN LIVES, making use of the results still requires some old-fashioned historical and genealogical research. Get the story on why this is the case, and look over host Henry Louis Gates, Jr.'s shoulder as he deciphers his test results.

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