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Research Projects

Anson Street African Burial Ground Project

Whole genomes of 18th century African and autosomal micro-array data from contemporary African Americans in Charleston, South Carolina to understand regional African population history using a community-based engagement framework.

Funding Resources:

National Geographic, others.



The Gullah Society, College of Charleston, University of Tennessee, University of Pennsylvania.

Project Media Coverage


2022     The Post and Courtier, “DNA studies of the Gaillard gravesite remains reveal compelling new information”. May 6.

2020    Penn Today, “Uncovered burial ground reveals history of 36 enslaved Africans in 18th-century Charleston.” October     


2019     ABC 4 News, Charleston SC. May 6.

2019     College of Charleston, African American Studies Program Port of Entry Podcast, “DNA Doesn’t Lie”.

2019     National Geographic Magazine, “Digging for the life stories of long-forgotten slaves”. December 11.

2019     The Post and Courtier, “Tears and celebration mark Charleston reburial of skeletal remains of 36 people”. May 4.

2019     ABC 4 News, “DNA reveals long history of African-Americans found in downtown Charleston”. May 5.

2019     News Channel 2, “DNA Research of African Remains Found at Gaillard Center to be revealed Wednesday”. February 


2018     The Post and Courier, “Thanks to DNA research, 80 Charlestonians of African descent may learn more about their

              roots”. August 1.

2018     Charleston City Paper, “Gullah Society hosts DNA workshop this Saturday as part of Anson Street Burials project”. May


Chesapeake DNA Study

Whole genomes of 17th century European and African individuals in Maryland, Virgina and Delaware, and autosomal micro-array data from 17th century descendent populations to understand how biological kinship impacted historic settlement patterns and shaped subsequent genetic diversity.


Funding Resources:

NSF, National Geographic, others.



St. Mary’s Historical Society, Smithsonian Institution, Maryland Historic Trust, University of Tennessee, University of Pennsylvania.

Project Media Coverage

2021     WHYY’s You Oughta Know, Archeological Discovery at Avery's Rest. Television Segment. March 2.

2021     The Saving Delaware History Podcast, Avery's Rest: The 17th Century Chesapeake Ancestry Project. Podcast Interview.

              January 1.

2019     Forbes Magazine, “DNA Analysis from Colonial Delaware Skeletons Reveals Beginnings of American Slave Trade”.

              December 19.

2017     The Washington Post, “An archaeological dig unearths one of the earliest slave remains in Delaware.” December 5.

St. Mary's Bascilia Project

Whole genomes of 18th century church burials from Norfolk, Virginia to investigate early European and African ancestry and relatedness in religious burial contexts.



Fairfield Foundation, Commonwealth Preservation Group, St. Mary's Basilica of the Immaculate Conception, Virginia Department of Historic Resources, University of Pennsylvania.

Photo: Brian Palmer.

Project Media Coverage

2020     The Catholic Virginian, “Discoveries could aid in discovering development of Church in Norfolk.” June 10.

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