What's New

The Key to Understanding Family Relationships


List of First Name Abbreviations


New Genealogy Records

Ten Effective Strategies on How to Build a Family Tree

Google Limitations on Genealogy Searches

top 100 genealogy websites 2016

Sell Art Online


Roots Author Alex Haley Had Scottish Ancestry


The late Alex Haley, author of the popular novel Roots, really did have Scottish ancestry. His nephew Chris Haley took a DNA test in 2007 and results showed that Alex Haley had a Scottish ancestor who likely lived in the 1600’s or 1700’s. Alex Haley is perhaps best known for inspiring a whole generation of African Americans to trace their genealogical roots. Haley, who died in 1992, continues to remain America’s best-selling African-American author.

In Alex Haley’s book Queen, he cites the story of Baugh (variation of Baff), a Scottish overseer of an Alabama slave plantation, who was thought to have fathered Mr. Haley’s great-grandfather with a female slave. DNA testing has recently confirmed that Alex Haley did indeed have Scottish ancestry, although it is difficult to pinpoint exactly where it is in his family tree.

Harvard University’s School of Public Health once performed a genetic genealogy study of Black American heritage and concluded that the average Black American today had an ancestry of 80% African and 20% most likely white European (see Gene Study Shows Most Black Americans Have Some European Ancestry). As well, researchers from the University of Wisconsin-Madison recently concluded that Africans may have first arrived in the New World with Christopher Columbus (see First European Explorers to American May Have Included Africans), over 100 years before slavery began in the Virginia Colonies.

Through his writing of Roots and other historical novels, Alex Haley inspired many people to take up genealogy as a hobby. Although some have questioned the historical accuracy of parts of his writing, the books are fictional novels and they had a powerful positive influence on the field of genealogy. “Through the writing of Roots, my uncle Alex Haley sparked a fascination in researching the past” said his nephew Chris Haley, who is currently the director of the Study of the Legacy of Slavery at the Maryland State Archives.

More Genealogy News