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January 26, 2012

Henry Louis Gates Jr. Hopes DNA Will Find Great-Great Grandfather

"Finding Your Roots" is a 10-part series on PBS about the genealogy and genetics of famous Americans. Henry Louis Gates Jr. is the host of this show which will explore family trees of 22 celebrities.

In an interesting twist, Gates will seek to discover the name of his own great-great grandfather, the man who sired 5 children by the slave Jane Gates. Jane did not reveal the father's name to any of her children, only telling them they had the same father.

Gates will use DNA to look for a match in the descendants of a pool of 178 possibilities of men who might be his ancestor. Gates has already had his DNA tested and to his surprise found he has Irish roots going back to Nial of Nine Hostages. His theory is that his great-great grandfather is a descendant of Nial. By collecting and analysing DNA samples from male descendants of the 178 possibilities, Gates hopes to find a match.

Residents who send in a DNA sample to see if they are related to Gates will get a separate website with the results, said Gates. Those whose DNA matches Gates may be featured in the new PBS miniseries "Finding Your Roots with Henry Louis Gates," which will premiere March 25 at 8 p.m.

Read more at Harvard Prof Henry Louis Gates Jr Hunting for Great-Great Grandfather

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