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Genetic genealogy 1990 to 1999

From ISOGG Wiki

Genetic Genealogy Timeline

September 1992

Jeffreys AJ, Allen M, Hagelberg E, Sonnberg A. Identification of the skeletal remains of Josef Mengele by DNA analysis. Forensic Science International 1992 Sep;56(1):65-76.

November 1992

The first published article on the application of mitochondrial DNA testing to genealogy.

Roderick TH, King M-C, Anderson RC. Mitochondrial DNA: A genetic and genealogical study. NEXUS, October-November issue, New England Historic Genealogical Society, 22 November 1992.[1]

An article by Thomas Roderick, Mary-Claire King and Robert Charles Anderson on the use of mtDNA and genealogy. They date the term "umbilical line" to 1972. They also announce a three-part study to determine mutation rates and appeal for paper-documented umbilical lines of ten generations or more. Roderick had been working on the idea for some time prior to this.

February 1994

The first forensic case to show the utility of mtDNA testing of old degraded material.

Gill P, Ivanov PL, Kimpton C, Piercy R, Benson N, Tully G, Evett I, Hagelberg E, Sullivan K. Identification of the remains of the Romanov family by DNA analysis. Nature Genetics 1994 Feb;6(2):130-5

See also the opinion piece by Michael Coble The identification of the Romanovs: Can we (finally) put the controversies to rest?. Investigative Genetics 2011, 2:20.

June 1994

An article was published by Thomas Roderick on "Umbilical lines and the mtDNA project" in the National Genealogical Society Quarterly (June 1994, volume 82, number 2, pp144-145.

November 1995

Landmark Y-chromosome DNA review article.

Jobling MA, Tyler-Smith C. Fathers and sons: the Y chromosome and human evolution Trends in Genetics November 1995, Volume 11, Issue 11, Pages 449-456. Summarizes current status of Y chromosome research and predicts future applications (genealogical and other).


FBI Laboratory begins using DNA in criminal cases, utilizing both nuclear and mitochondrial DNA.

June 1996

Helene Cincebeaux gave a presentation on the subject of "Genetic Genealogy" at the Federation of East European Family History Societies' conference in June 1996 in Minneapolis, USA.[2]

May 1996

A study which estimated the time to the most recent common ancestor (TMRCA) for the Y chromosome based on a section of sequence for which there was no variation

Donnelly P, Tavaré S, Balding DJ, Griffiths RC. Estimating the age of the common ancestor of men from the ZFY intron. Science 272(5266): 1357-1359.

January 1997

The Cohanim/Cohen/Kohanim study

Skorecki KS. Selig S. Blazer s, Bradman R, Bradman N, Bradman PJ, Waburton PJ, Ismajlowicz M, Hammer MF. Y chromosomes of Jewish priests. Nature 2 January 1997 385 (32): 6611. The full article is reprinted here.

See also: Tracing the Cohanim Nova Online, November 2000.

May 1997

Savin DNA Project. Alan Savin launches the first surname DNA project by a genealogy hobbyist - with Mark Thomas of University College, London (6 markers).

See also: Pioneer surname projects before 2002.


mtDNA testing of Cheddar Man, Britain's oldest complete skeleton buried over 9,000 years ago (Bryan Sykes). The testing of Cheddar Man was done for an episode of Mick Aston's series Time Traveller: In Search of Cheddar Man, broadcast in the UK on 7 July 1997. The research has never been published in a peer-reviewed journal.

See the Wikipedia article on Cheddar Man.

July 1998

Publication of a paper on the first method for estimating modal cluster origin dates using Y STRs.

Thomas MG, Skorecki K, Ben-Ami H, Parfitt T, Bradman N, Goldstein DB. Origins of Old Testament priests. Nature 1998 Jul 9; 394(6689): 138-40.

July/August 1998

The mtDNA of Marie-Antoinette does not match Naundorff (who claimed he was her son). A later (2001) test on the remains of a child believed to be her son did match Marie.

Jehaes E, Decorte R, Peneau A, Petrie JH, Boiry PA, Gilissen A, Moisan JP, Van den Berghe H, Pascal O, Cassiman JJ. Mitochondrial DNA analysis on remains of a putative son of Louis XVI, King of France and Marie-Antoinette. 'European Journal of Human Genetics. 1998 Jul-Aug; 6(4): 383-95.

Jehaes E, Pfeiffer H, Toprak K, Decorte R, Brinkmann B, Cassiman JJ. Mitochondrial DNA analysis of the putative heart of Louis XVII, son of Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette. European Journal of Human Genetics 2001; 9(3): 185-90.

See summaries and other links at Some sources of information about the mtDNA of Marie-Antoinette

5 November 1998

Thomas Jefferson study (Y-chromosome DNA study)

Foster EA, Jobling MA, Taylor PG, Donnelly P, de Knijff P, Mieremet R, Zerjal T, Tyler-Smith C. Jefferson fathered slave's last child. Nature 1998 Nov 5; 396(6706): 27-8

Abbey DM. The Thomas Jefferson paternity case. Nature 1999 Jan 7;397(6714):32. A letter in response to the Jefferson article with a reply from the authors.

See also the Jefferson-Hemmings resources on the Monticello website. See also: Jefferson's Blood from PBS Frontline.

9 November 1998

Publication of the first article on genetic genealogy:

"An introduction to Genetic Genealogy", by Alan Savin, 9 November 1998.

1999 - Pearl Duncan

Pearl Duncan, New York author, begins a study to link her family to the Akuapim people in Ghana (a Y chromosome study with Michael Hammer).

Saulny S. A spiralling trail back to Africa: DNA is breakthrough in writer's search. New York Times, 26 February 2002.

Boyle A. She traces genetic "roots" to Africa. NBC News, 16 January 2002.

1999 - Family Tree DNA

Bennett Greenspan, entrepreneur and genealogy hobbyist, develops Family Tree DNA (FTDNA). August - discusses with Michael F. Hammer (University of Arizona); October - sends 24 samples (proof of concept); January 2000 results back; March 2000 started accepting orders (see 2000 timeline).

1999 - Oxford Ancestors

Professor Bryan Sykes develops Oxford Ancestors; formally incorporated 2002. See 2000 timeline.

1999 - James Sorenson

James L. Sorenson, Utah businessman, discusses genetics and genealogy with Scott Woodward at Brigham Young University leading to the Molecular Genealogy Research Project (MGRP), at that time often called the "BYU" project (see 2000), and later known as the "SMGF project" (see 2003 timeline).

For background see the SMGF history page.

1999 - Korean surnames

Publication of the first paper on Korean surnames.

Yung Jin Kim, Sang Gi Paik, Gwang Sook Ahn and Wook Kim. 49a/Taq haplotypes according to the surname groups in Korean population' Korean Journal of Genetics, September 1999; 21(3): 181-192.

Y-specific 49a/Taz haplotypes were studied in samples from a total of 770 Korean males derived from unrelated 24 surname lineages among the 274 surnames in Korea. The 24 surname lineages were classified into five different genetic groups based on their different allelic frequencies suggesting that these surname groups originated from at least five different male ancestors.

References and notes

  1. The New England Historic Genealogical Society published NEXUS until the Nov-Dec.1999 issue. They replaced it with New England Ancestors which in turn was succeeded by the winter 2010 issue of American Ancestors.
  2. 1996 conference schedule for the The Federation of East European Family History Societies, Minneapolis, June 1996