The Second Middle Passage: Following the DNA Trails

The Second Middle Passage: Following the DNA Trails

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by Melvin J. Collier

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The Second Middle Passage: Following the DNA Trails


With slave ancestral research, one is often faced with direct evidence vs. indirect evidence. Many forms of direct evidence that emphatically prove family relationships, birthplaces, and other happenings are often non-existent because enslaved people were merely considered “property.” Some researchers have been very fortunate to find rare pieces of direct evidence, in the form of old family letters, diaries, ledgers, Bibles, etc., to positively identify enslaved ancestors and family structures. Many researchers often rely on a preponderance of indirect evidence to confirm enslaved ancestors. Collier presents two cases where DNA was a valuable piece of evidence that identified and confirmed enslaved ancestors and how DNA research provided clues to determine the areas where two enslaved ancestors had likely been sold away from during the domestic slave trade (Second Middle Passage).


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Presenter: Melvin J. Collier

A native of Canton, Mississippi, Melvin J. Collier is the author of:

His books have been used by genealogical and historical scholars as great reference sources for genealogical methodologies.

Melvin is a former civil engineer in corporate America for nearly 10 years. His passion for African-American history and historical preservation led to a major and fulfilling career change in the Archivist profession. He is a former archivist at the Archives Research Center of the Robert W. Woodruff Library – Atlanta University Center, where he has worked on the Morehouse College Dr. Martin Luther King Papers, the Maynard Jackson Administrative Papers and Photographs, the Dr. Asa Hilliard III Papers, and other collections, 2006-2013. Currently employed by the federal government, Melvin has been conducting historical and genealogical research for over 20 years, starting at the age of 19. He has given numerous workshops and presentations on historical and genealogical subjects. He appeared on the NBC show, Who Do You Think You Are, as one of the expert genealogists on the Spike Lee episode (2010). Melvin maintains a genealogy blog, Roots Revealed, at He earned a Master of Arts degree in African-American Studies, Clark Atlanta University, in 2008, with additional graduate coursework in Archival Studies from Clayton State University, 2010-2012. He was the recipient of the 2012 Marsha M. Greenlee History Award by the National Afro-American Historical and Genealogical Society (AAHGS).

Melvin J. Collier