AncestryDNA Results Across the Diaspora

In 2013 AncestryDNA updated their Ethnicity Estimates to include a very detailed breakdown of West African ancestry (see this article). Soon afterwards I started collecting AncestryDNA results in an online spreadsheet in order to conduct a survey of the African regions being reported by AncestryDNA, among both African Americans as well as other Afro-descended nationalities. Attempting to establish how much the AncestryDNA results on an aggregated group level can already (despite limitations of sample size) be correlated with whatever is known about the documented regional African roots for each nationality.

Rumour has it that AncestryDNA will shortly start rolling out a new update of their Ethnicity Estimates. So it seems the time is right to finalize my survey. The sample size for most groups appears to be suffciently robust now to allow a meaningful intercomparison. In the AncestryDNA section of my blog (see the menubar) you can find a detailed summary of my survey findings based on 707 results for 7 nationalities:

Gathering all the results was a great learning experience. It has been a very satisfactory project! My survey report merely represents my personal attempt at identifying generalized, preliminary and indicative patterns on a group level inspite of individual variation. Everyone has a unique family tree of course first of all.

I would like to thank again all my survey participants for sharing their results with me. I am truly grateful for it!


This frequency of regions being ranked #1 (regions with the highest amount in the African breakdown) is perhaps the best indicator of which distinct African lineages may have been preserved the most among my sample groups.”


FREQ #1 regions

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Jamaican maternal lineages trace back mostly to Ghana?



“In line with previous findings, the matriline of Jamaica is almost entirely of West African descent. Results from the admixture analyses suggest modern Jamaicans share a closer affinity with groups from the Gold Coast and Bight of Benin despite high mortality, low fecundity, and waning regional importation. The slaves from the Bight of Biafra and West-central Africa were imported in great numbers; however, the results suggest a deficit in expected maternal contribution from those regions.” (Deason et al., 2012)

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Virgin Islands Roots (part 2)

Virgin Islanders (US) have multiple ethnic African origins across West & Central Africa just like other West Indians. And similarly they also have absorbed within their genepool many migrants coming from other surrounding Caribbean islands. Making for a complex mix to disentangle. However because of their rather unique colonization history involving the Danes – whose slave trading activities were centred mainly on their fortresses along the Gold Coast –Danish triangular slave tradeit might be that proportionally speaking the share of Ghanaian ancestry for Virgin Islanders could be among the highest within the Carribean or even the entire Americas. I will post some slave trade statistics that seem to be in support although they can only give an inherently limited perspective. Plus i will discuss the highly valuable testimony concerning the ethnic make up of Virgin Islanders written down by the Moravian missionary Oldendorp circa 1768. His report of originally 3000 pages (!) is among the earliest ethnographic descriptions of Caribbean slaves. Lees verder