200 African American 23andme results

I have just published a new page within the 23andme section of my blog. It features my survey findings for 200 African American 23andme results. Various themes/topics are discussed. Especially delving deeper into the African breakdown but also highlighting a remarkably widespread Madagascar Connection for my African American survey group! Follow the link below for fully detailed analysis, references and screenshots:

Of course my 23andme survey may have several limitations. The group averages I have calculated for my survey-(sub)groups are neither absolute or conclusive but rather to be seen as indicative. One main aspect to take to heart is that there will always be individual variation around the mean! Still the sample size of n=200 should be sufficiently robust to pick up on the main tendencies. I have made an extra effort to do justice to the entire African American spectrum across the country. Of course all done on a best-effort basis.

Continental breakdown

Table 1 (click to enlarge) 

Generally speaking most African Americans are clearly of predominant African descent, combined with minor other ancestral components. Almost all of this additional ancestry will usually be European in fact. Often to a minor but still substantial degree. Aside from much more diluted but still distinctive amounts of especially Native American and perhaps more surprisingly also Southeast Asian admixture! See this screenshot for an overview of my previous Ancestry survey findings (n=350). And also this one featuring the complete continental breakdown (n=200). The overall group averages being nearly identical!

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At the same time I have also focused on gathering atleast a minimum number of 20 survey participants each for Louisiana, South Carolina and Virginia. These are 3 key states when considering African American genetics & origins.

Table 2 (click to enlarge)

The state origins of my survey participants are not based on a 4 grandparents criterium per se. But often this was indeed confirmed by their profile details on 23andme. Either way insightful variation according to state origins. Take notice especially of the highest subgroup averages which have been highlighted in red. The African admixture ranges (min. – max.) were as follows: Louisiana (51%-94%); South Carolina (75%-99%) ; Virginia (56%-94%). Compare also with my previous survey findings on Ancestry.

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Chart 1 (click to enlarge)

This chart is showing the full extent of African ancestry among my African American survey participants. The most frequent African admixture interval is 80-90%.  Which is the same as it was during my  previous Ancestry survey (n=350, see this chart).

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African breakdown

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Table 3 (click to enlarge)

African Americans are shown to be mainly West African (~80%). While their Northeast African ancestry is at noise level.  And even when genuine most likely suggestive of a very faint DNA signal inherited by way of Sahelian West African ancestors. The Central African component is most likely underestimated in 23andme 2018/2019 version. But even so at around 15% it is already quite distinctive and in the expected ranking order when compared with other parts of the Afro-Diaspora.

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Table 4 (click to enlarge)

“Nigerian” was clearly the most significant region for the greater part of my survey group (162/200=81%). However for a substantial part of my survey group also “Ghanaian, Liberian & Sierra Leonean” appeared in first place (37/200=18%). And more atypically even one time “Senegambian & Guinean”  (see ranked #1).  Aside from the group averages do take notice also of the complete range (min-max) for greater insight! Also don’t take the country labeling too literally. Because for example “Nigerian” will also cover DNA from Benin, Togo and (eastern) Ghana. And also from Cameroon. Even when the main ancestral implication will usually indeed be Nigerian lineage. See this map.

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Comparing with other parts of the Afro-Diaspora

Table 5 (click to enlarge)

This table is taken from my Afro-Diasporan survey of 23andme resultsThe data has been sorted on highest to lowest score for “Nigerian”. The highest group average for each African region has been encircled in red. Obviously several limitations might apply, however the ranking order is mostly in agreement with historical plausibilityCompare also with my previous findings on Ancestry from 2016. For actual Nigerian 23andme results see this page.

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Substructure according to state origins

Table 6 (click to enlarge) 

This overview is exploring regional substructure among African Americans according to state origins. Actually hardly any differentiation on display for my subgroup from Louisiana. Most of the contrast is to be seen for my survey participants from South Carolina. In particular their relatively elevated group averages for Upper Guinean and Central African DNA. But also the extra pronounced “Nigerian” score for my Virginia subgroup is quite distinctive. Arguably to be explained by known differences in Trans-Atlantic slave trade patterns between Virginia and South Carolina.

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Table 7 (click to enlarge)

Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Database (2020) (www.slavevoyages.org). For more discussion and similar overviews see this page.

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Recent Ancestor Locations

Table 8 (click to enlarge) 

This overview is showing how many times a particular Recent Ancestor Location (RAL) was reported by 23andme for my 200 African American survey participants. In fact I did not always have access to this data. So I was only able to verify for 135 persons in my survey. Out of that subgroup many people received RAL’s confirming their partial British/Irish admixture. Also more ambivalent Caribbean RAL’s showed up suggestive of various ancestral scenario’s actually. Most evocative perhaps that 4 persons received Nigerian RAL’s as a more solid confirmation of their Nigerian lineage.

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Again the separate page I created has much more extensive analysis, references and screenshots. It will be useful as well to compare with my previous surveyfindings for 350 African Americans. Because many outcomes were quite similar. Serving as some form of independent corroboration of my main findings from 2015 already.

Screenshots

Just a small selection. Go to the main page for many more screenshots, including a few profiles with nearly 100% African admixture. As well as featuring Nigerian RAL’s. Maximum scores for each African region, Southeast Asian as well as Native American admixture and also at times appearance of European lineage from unexpected countries incl. the Netherlands.

I like to thank again all the persons who kindly agreed to share their results with me. In particular I want to give a shout-out to Teresa and X! Their great help has been essential for my efforts to collect a representative sample group of 200 African Americans 23andme results! I am truly grateful for it! Follow the links below to get in tune with all sorts of highly valuable online resources made available by African American genealogy bloggers:

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AFRICAN AMERICAN  (Virginia)

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2018 version. Quite typical results. Especially for my Virginia subgroup. The prominent “Nigerian” scores are a common theme for many African Americans. For Virginians in my survey the frequency of  primary “Nigerian” scores was even 100% (20/20). However for other African Americans also “Ghanaian, Liberian & Sierra Leonean” is at times showing up in first place within the African breakdown. Most likely correlating with (ultimate) state origins. Do also notice that secondary regions such as “Angolan & Congolese” can still be substantial (>10%) as well. Such scores indicative of Central African DNA are likely to increase for many people after the 2020 update.

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AFRICAN AMERICAN  (South Carolina)

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2018 version.  For 7 persons out of 20 (35%) in my South Carolina subgroup “Ghanaian, Liberian & Sierra Leonean” is showing up as primary region. This frequency is possibly more pronounced in South Carolina due to known slave trade from both Sierra Leone and Liberia being relatively more important than elsewhere in the USA. Interestingly Haiti is mentioned as RAL. However this could reflect several ancestral scenarios. Due to migrations going in both directions across the generations (see this page and this one). In fact it might also indicate shared African lineage, possibly Central African?

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AFRICAN AMERICAN  (Texas: Louisiana Creole?)

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2018 version. This could possibly be representing a Louisiana Creole profile by proxy. As this person is from Texas, Liberty County (4gp) which intriguingly was settled by Creole migrants in the mid-1800’s! Either way these results are quite singular within my survey for several reasons. It is the only time “Senegambian & Guinean” is showing up as biggest region within my survey. Historically plausible, although actually for my other Louisiana Creole survey participants this region was more subdued. Second stand-out aspect is the European breakdown which is greatly suggestive of French/Spanish lineage. And finally the amount of Native American admixture is also the highest in my survey.

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14 thoughts on “200 African American 23andme results

  1. My mum has a growing cluster of African Americans, Malagasy and Mauritian/Reunionnaise Creole matches that all match her on a Filipino & Austronesian segment of DNA on 23andme, the majority of the African Americans have roots in Virginia.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s great! As I mention on the main page:

      Combining advanced genetic genealogy techniques such as triangulation and DNA Painter with regional admixture of shared DNA segments also holds great potential in my opinion. As it might enable you to identify an earliest family line associated with such regional admixture! Especially when this regional admixture is distinctive such an approach can be very fruitful. For example when dealing with possible Malagasy lineage the presence of any “Southern East African” and/or Southeast Asian admixture should be very useful. Naturally all of this is to be combined with any other clues you might have. Also it goes without saying that extra scrutiny is always required in order to avoid jumping to conclusions!

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    • the majority of the African Americans have roots in Virginia

      I believe further research into this topic is very important! As I said on the main page:

      Learning more about the approximate genetic contribution of either Virginia or South Carolina in other USA states might very well be crucial in obtaining a greater understanding of African Americans as an ethnic group in their own right. Not only in regards to their African origins. But also I imagine in regards to the formation of mainstream African American culture and how it evolved later on. And possibly even how some minor non-African admixture may have originally occurred in the Virginia/Maryland area and later on (due to either forced or voluntary migrations) was dispersed among African Americans nowadays living in other states. This could be relevant not only for European admixture (possibly also involving early contacts with indentured servants?). But also heavily diluted Native American DNA may often be traced back to the 1700’s I suppose. And perhaps most intriguingly also the Madagascar connection for many African Americans may often have been initiated in or around Virginia.

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    • Congratz! I am not doing any new surveys for now. However feel free to send me a viewing link to your results. You can create this on the ancestry composition page by clicking on the share button (also enable Link sharing). Do you know which state each one of your grandparents was born?

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      • I know 3 of my 4 grandparents(Dad’s parents both from Georgia and one of my great grandmother’s from South Carolina) are from and I have a pretty good idea of my mom’s dad(South Carolina though I’m not 100% sure).

        I’ll just post my results:

        Sub Saharan Africa: 75.8%
        West Africa: 65.6%
        Nigerian: 38.4%
        Ghanaian, Liberia, Sierra Leone: 15.3%
        Senegambian & Guinea: 4.4%
        Broadly West African: 7.5%
        Congolese and South East African: 10.1%
        Angolan and Congolese: 9.8%
        Broadly South East African: 0.3%

        Y-DNA: E-U290
        MTDNA: L3D1-5

        Oh yeah, my mom’s mom is from Kentucky

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        • Nice results, thanks for sharing! Pretty much conforming with what I found especially for my Virginia survey group. Overall quite varied but your scaled “Nigerian” score is practically half of your African breakdown (38.4/75.8=50.6%). Probably it might have been a bit less if you had tested in 2018. Keeping in mind all disclaimers it is still quite obvious that you have a substantial degree of Nigerian ancestry. The greater part very likely to be linked with the Bight of Biafra (=southeast Nigeria) and in particular Igbo people (although of course not exclusively so 😉 ).

          On Ancestry you only received the ” Early Virginia African Americans ” community right? Intriguing to correlate with your family ties from Ohio and Kentucky. As these states were heavily settled by Virginians I believe. It should be useful to see what 23andme will say whenever they will eventually also report Recent Ancestor Locations (RAL) within the USA. Although actually as I describe on the main page:

          23andme’s predictions on sub-national level tend to be over-ambitious. Often reflecting rather the self-reported origins of 23andme customers who tend to hail from certain overrepresented areas within a given country. So for example the British RAL’s reported for African Americans often tend to specify London.

          Even more meaningful of course will be when 23andme starts reporting more African RAL’s! A very special outcome of my survey (n=200) was to see actual Nigerian lineage being confirmed by Nigerian RAL’s for 4 African Americans. At times even on a statelevel! Even when the actual state level may not be 100% accurate. To be kept in mind that Nigerians themselves of course also have been migrating and intermingling across the generations! Still it could be very indicative already to know if the RAL will be pinpointing a state somewhere in southwestern Nigeria or rather in southeastern Nigeria. As such information might greatly correlate with the odds of having either Yoruba or Igbo lineage!

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          • I needed some time to chew on all of the insight you posted and I’m glad you remembered my AncestryDNA additional community because your insight is even more relevant than you know. For example, my aunt, my dad’s sister, also took AncestryDNA and not only does she have Early Virginia African Americans but she has The Carolinas(my grandma’s mom is from South Carolina), Maryland and Virginia African Americans and Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia(she was born in Georgia), Alabama and Mississippi African Americans. She also has 41% Nigerian(75% Sub Saharan African) so it all fits and you mentioned, that’s not even getting into my mom’s mom family which had deep roots(mom and dad) in Maysville Kentucky from the early 1800s.

            Even matches from what I believe is my mom’s dad’s lineage, there’s a commonality with the Early North Carolina African Americans as well as South Carolina African Americans, I checked their migrations according to AncestryDNA and most of the early populated area in around 1700 is in Virginia before the later migrations. So this confirms all your insights and helped me a lot to understand the history of my ancestors on both sides. Thank you for all you do with this blog and overall as a historian.

            Liked by 1 person

            • Thanks so much for the appreciation! That’s great that you also know about your aunts results on Ancestry. As people of older generations often tend to have greater odds of being linked to insightful connections. This also goes for African DNA matches btw! It will be particularly useful if you happen to share the same African DNA match with your aunt as this will allow you first of all to have more certainty it is indeed a valid match (so-called IBD = Identical By Descent). Furthermore it might allow you to place certain certain types of African lineage further up within your family tree. Even if most likely your primary Nigerian ancestry is inherited on multiple lines. From both your father’s and mother’s side. And even from all four of your grandparents.

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  2. So my updated results show my Nigerian at 44% and on Amcestry, one of my communities is Early Virginia African Americans. Also most of my family is from the Louisville area in Kentucky.

    My only surprise is my European changed to 5.0% French & German and a surprising 0.3% peninsular Arab.

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    • One of my communities is Early Virginia African Americans. Also most of my family is from the Louisville area in Kentucky.”

      Nice! Have you done any family tree research beyond your grandparents already? Should be interesting to know when your Virginian-born ancestors arrived in Kentucky.

      Has your “Angolan & Congolese” increased btw ? I suspect that this will happen for many African Americans. From what i’ve seen sofar the upgrade of 23andme’s algorithm has been an improvement for many Afro-descendants. At least on balance and for the main regional scores. However when it comes to minor regions the new algorithm might at times produce unexpected results indeed. Possibly just a side-effect from its homogenizing tendencies.

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  3. 𝑬𝒗𝒆𝒓 𝒔𝒊𝒏𝒄𝒆 𝒎𝒚 𝒔𝒖𝒓𝒗𝒆𝒚 𝒐𝒏 𝑨𝒏𝒄𝒆𝒔𝒕𝒓𝒚 𝑰 𝒉𝒂𝒗𝒆 𝒃𝒆𝒆𝒏 𝒊𝒏𝒕𝒓𝒊𝒈𝒖𝒆𝒅 𝒃𝒚 𝒕𝒉𝒆 𝒒𝒖𝒆𝒔𝒕𝒊𝒐𝒏 𝒐𝒇 𝒆𝒔𝒕𝒂𝒃𝒍𝒊𝒔𝒉𝒊𝒏𝒈 𝒘𝒉𝒊𝒄𝒉 𝒓𝒆𝒈𝒊𝒐𝒏𝒂𝒍 𝒔𝒍𝒂𝒗𝒆 𝒕𝒓𝒂𝒅𝒆 𝒑𝒂𝒕𝒕𝒆𝒓𝒏𝒔 𝒉𝒂𝒗𝒆 𝒃𝒆𝒆𝒏 𝒎𝒐𝒓𝒆 𝒊𝒏𝒇𝒍𝒖𝒆𝒏𝒕𝒊𝒂𝒍 𝒘𝒉𝒆𝒏 𝒕𝒂𝒌𝒊𝒏𝒈 𝑨𝒇𝒓𝒊𝒄𝒂𝒏 𝑨𝒎𝒆𝒓𝒊𝒄𝒂𝒏𝒔 𝒂𝒔 𝒘𝒉𝒐𝒍𝒆: 𝒕𝒉𝒐𝒔𝒆 𝒇𝒓𝒐𝒎 𝑺𝒐𝒖𝒕𝒉 𝑪𝒂𝒓𝒐𝒍𝒊𝒏𝒂 (𝒗𝒂𝒓𝒊𝒆𝒅 𝒃𝒖𝒕 𝒎𝒐𝒓𝒆 𝒔𝒐 𝒕𝒆𝒏𝒅𝒊𝒏𝒈 𝒕𝒐𝒘𝒂𝒓𝒅𝒔 𝑼𝒑𝒑𝒆𝒓 𝑮𝒖𝒊𝒏𝒆𝒂 & 𝑪𝒆𝒏𝒕𝒓𝒂𝒍 𝑨𝒇𝒓𝒊𝒄𝒂) 𝒐𝒓 𝒕𝒉𝒐𝒔𝒆 𝒇𝒓𝒐𝒎 𝑽𝒊𝒓𝒈𝒊𝒏𝒊𝒂 (𝒗𝒂𝒓𝒊𝒆𝒅 𝒃𝒖𝒕 𝒎𝒐𝒓𝒆 𝒔𝒐 𝒕𝒆𝒏𝒅𝒊𝒏𝒈 𝒕𝒐𝒘𝒂𝒓𝒅𝒔 𝑩𝒊𝒈𝒉𝒕 𝒐𝒇 𝑩𝒊𝒂𝒇𝒓𝒂).

    That’s my big interrogation too. I’m not gonna lie but with all these updates, I’m wandering if there’s any South Carolina impact at all.

    Considering the underestimation of Central African component in 23andme results and your AncestryDNA survey, we can assume Central African ancestry is steady and in line with the slave trade number (around 25-28 %). So there are probably individual impacts, but not in general.

    About the Upper Guinean component, what I find most intriguing is that comparing with DNA results of other Afro diaspora nations and their slave trade number, only in the United States we found this possibly greater dilution of Senegambian bloodlines. I read all the possibilities that you mentioned to explain this (favorable gender ratio with more females import or greater victimization by domestic slave trade) but I don’t think we find this phenomenon with another ethnic group in your Afro-Diaspora surveys, correct me if I’m wrong.

    I’d love to see a survey with more results from states with a large African American population such as Mississippi, Alabama, Arkansas or Texas to see which slave trade patterns has a greater impact because I read that early 19th century slaves import (mostly Congoleses and Sierra Leonans) were sent in the interior south.

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    • Very thoughtful comment thank you! In my next blog post I intend to deal with this topic in greater detail as I will be reviewing 23andme’s latest study: “Genetic Consequences of the Transatlantic Slave Trade in the Americas”.

      Btw in my online spreadsheet (see this link) you will be able to see some of the emerging patterns for those states you mention. I have added in their group averages. Although obviously with minimal samplesize. Just minor variation for the most part but overall in line with my main findings. Only Texas (n=6) is somewhat standing out because of a 40.3% “Nigerian” average. But of course with greater sample size this might very well change.

      I think for individuals with partial African origins tied to illegal Slave trade in the 1800’s it might be easier to detect by looking into your African DNA matches. As the odds of bigger matches should be increased. But if you have let’s say one Congolese ancestor from 1810 then autosomally speaking the genetic contribution might have been diluted to around 3%. If more exceptionally you have one Congolese ancestor from 1840’s it could be around 6% though. Especially in the latter case I suppose this should be visible in your “Angolan & Congolese” score being above average. But otherwise perhaps not that clearly.

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