The Best DNA Tests for African American Heritage

Tracing your heritage is one of the most valuable and enlightening experiences you can undertake. Click here to learn more about the best tests available today.

Throughout history, countless individuals have likely wondered where they came from, who stood before them, and how they came to be. It is one of the traits that sets human beings apart – the ability to pause, wonder, and look back at the trail marked before us.

We are just now beginning to realise all the potential DNA research holds for our lives, identities, and our health.The search for identity and a stronger sense of place is not a new one, but our ability to search with such a high level of accuracy through our own DNA remains an incredibly new and valuable experience for people all around the globe.

Searching through your African Ancestry means opening a line of inquiry into an incredibly complex and meaningful journey across space and time. There are numerous resources available for anyone seeking insight into their cultural, geographical and ethnic roots, and recent advancements in data collection (fuelled in part by the rise of at-home testers contributing their own genetic makeup to the archives, but also by the unprecedented wealth of insight it offers) offer you the opportunity to uncover a wealth of information about your wider family, and your own identity.

Read more below about the best tests for understanding your heritage, whether you are on a search for distant relatives or deeper insight into the geographic history of your own lineage.

What Can a Test Tell You About Your African Ancestry?

Due to great steps forward in data collection and technology, researching your African American heritageis now simpler – and more rewarding – than ever before. While tracing your ancestral line through Africa was once far more limited – in part due to the narrow focus of early data collectors, who primarily focussed their search on Europe, but also as a result of centuries of forced displacement and migration – researchers have now managed to build up a significant resource for tracing African genome sequences with greater accuracy, and more insightful results.

There are kits available for testing both your maternal and paternal lineage, although it is important to note that the paternal lineage can only be searched through the Y-chromosome, which is exclusive to males. Alternatively, autosomal testing offers incredible insight into distant familial ties you may never otherwise have discovered.

Consider How Broad You Want Your Search to Be

Some kits, such as African Ancestry’s Family Celebration Package, provide two tests; if you are a woman, you may wish to hand over the Y-DNA test to a brother or other male relative, in order to garner the most comprehensive insight possible.

This particular test contains the most wide-ranging database for African lineages, but the results are also relatively broad: it can offer insight into your country of origin and ethnic background – whether your genetic makeup comprises is a vast array of ethnicities, or remains more concentrated within a particular line – but it will not link you to a family tree.

More focused tests, such as MyHeritage DNA and Family Tree DNA feature narrower databases, but they do use autosomal testing with a view to matching you with distant, living relatives, potentially spread all over the world.

Final Thoughts

The scope for tracing and following African heritage was once far more limited, but the tables are rapidly turning, and a search into your own history is now able to prove more rewarding, and more informative than it could have even just a few years ago. Whether you are testing yourself in order to celebrate culture or familial bonds – or both – there is a wide range of tests available, backed by substantial databases, with which you can begin your journey into the past.

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