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Kimberly Powell

Alex Haley's Roots Go Back to Scotland

By March 6, 2009

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I'm always amazed just how much you can actually learn about your family history through DNA if you really dig down into the details. Alex Haley, the famous author of "Roots: The Saga of An American Family," offers one such fascinating example. Family stories passed down in the Haley family suggested that Haley's great-great-grandfather was born of an African slave mother and a white Scottish father, but traditional genealogy research has never been able to fully prove the theory, as their ancestors were slaves and there was little documentation about them. Now, a DNA sample from Alex Haley's nephew Chris, has finally proved his research to be correct.

About two weeks ago, Chris Haley received an automated email message informing him that his DNA matched to another customer who had just submitted his DNA sample. It turns out the matching DNA was submitted by a man in Scotland who had his tested as a favor to his daughter (Y-DNA only passes down the male line, so as a female she needed to have a male relative tested). Better yet - she had only been researching her family history for THREE weeks! A reunion between June Baff and Chris Haley took place at the Who Do You Think You Are? LIVE show in London last week, with coverage by the BBC. Learn more about this amazing story and see the reunion for yourself in this video at Roots Television produced by Megan Smolenyak who was involved in this case from the beginning. Dick Eastman also has an excellent writeup about the story.

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