From Paper To People

From Paper To People

Interview with Brian Sheffey about AncestryDNA

July 24, 2020

This episode is super-sized, because the topic is that important: racism in genealogy and the new AncestryDNA policy that will eliminate all matches below 8cM for all users. I mention the multiple hacks and security breaches on genealogy and DNA websites within the past week, too. But more than anything, this episode allows my cousin, Brian Sheffey, to discuss his experience with multi-ethnic DNA matches and finding evidence of the identities of white ancestors among free black and enslaved ancestors in the late 17th and early 18th centuries. This is why I am upset about Ancestry's tone-deaf policy - it will wreak havoc on research among a population that already suffers from a comparative dearth of records or limited access to the documentary record. It also has the potential to affect those researching remote foundlings, adoptees and other unknown parentage cases. I believe that the decision Ancestry has made is evidence of the lack of diversity among their management and leadership, something that Ancestry's CEO promised to change when he voiced support for Black Lives Matter on June 3rd. Listen, learn, and make up your mind about the subjects we discuss.

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