Roberta’s Publications

Roberta lectures widely, has written a number of papers, articles and a monthly column for a technology magazine, has authored books in the technology arena and is in the process of writing a book about her experiences with DNA and Genealogy.

Her most recent articles include; “Where Have All the Indians Gone? What We Know and What We Don’t about Native American Eastern Seaboard Dispersal, Genealogy and DNA”, which is scheduled for publication in JOGG, the Journal of Genetic Genealogy in late 2009.

Another publication currently in the academic review process prior to publication is; “Revealing Minority Heritage using Y-line, Mitochondrial, Autosomal and X Chromosomal Testing Data”.

Academic Publications
Melungeons: A Multi-Ethnic Population

This article was published in the Journal of Genetic Genealogy in April of 2012.

The Melungeons were a group of individuals found primarily in Hawkins and Hancock Counties of Tennessee and in the far southern portion of Lee County, Virginia which borders Hawkins and Hancock counties in Tennessee. At one time isolated geographically on and near Newman's Ridge and socially due to their dark countenance, they were known to their neighbors as Melungeons, a term applied as an epithet or in a pejorative manner.

As the stigma of a mixed racial heritage dimmed in the late 20th century and was replaced by a sense of pride, interest in the genealogy and history of the Melungeon people was born. With the advent of the internet and popular press, the story of these people has become larger than life, with their ancestors being attributed to a myriad of exotic sources: Sir Walter Raleigh's Lost Colony, Ottoman Turks, The Lost Tribes of Israel, Jews, Gypsies, descendants of Prince Madoc of Wales, Indians, escaped slaves, Portuguese, Sir Francis Drake's rescued Caribbean Indians and Moorish slaves, Juan Pardo's expedition, De Soto's expedition, abandoned pirates and Black Dutch, among others. Melungeon families themselves claimed to be Indian, white and Portuguese.

Furthermore, as having Melungeon heritage became desirable and exotic, the range of where these people were reportedly found has expanded to include nearly every state south of New England and east of the Mississippi, and in the words of Dr. Virginia DeMarce, Melungeon history has been erroneously expanded to provide "an exotic ancestry...that sweeps in virtually every olive, ruddy and brown-tinged ethnicity known or alleged to have appeared anywhere in the pre-Civil War Southeastern United States."

This paper first defines the Melungeon population study group, then uses Y-line, mitochondrial and autosomal DNA to evaluate their ancestry in conjunction with existing documentary records.

Revealing American Indian and Minority Heritage Using Y-line, Mitochondrial, Autosomal and X-Chromosomal Testing Data Combined with Pedigree Analysis

As a project administrator of several historically based genetic genealogy projects, such as the Lost Colony, Cumberland Gap, Melungeon, Carolina Native Heritage and Hatteras Island projects which involve thousands of participants, I routinely receive questions from individuals who have an oral history of Native American heritage and would like to use genetic genealogical tools to prove, or disprove, their oral history. This paper documents the various discovery steps and processes using different types of DNA testing for a typical individual participant and appropriate family members who carry an oral Native history combined with genealogical evidence that has been forthcoming during the elapsed years since genetic testing for genealogy first because available. Each test along with associated benefits and detriments are discussed in relation to the analysis of minority ancestry. The conclusion combines the information from all the various tests, pedigree analysis and genealogical evidence, discussing which tests are beneficial and most accurate, and which ones are not useful, and why.

Where Have All the Indians Gone? Native American Eastern Seaboard Dispersal, Genealogy and DNA in Relation to Sir Walter Raleigh’s Lost Colony of Roanoke.

This paper was academically published in the Fall 2009 Issue of the Journal of Genetic Genealogy

Abstract: The characterization of Y-chromosome and mtDNA haplogroups in Native Americans and other populations is allowing important new information to be brought to bear on the question of what happened to the 115 colonists who came to the Roanoke colony in 1587, now known as the Lost Colony, because there years later, in 1590, all the colonists were gone. DNA projects for Lumbee and other Native American tribes, along with DNA projects for Melungeon, Waccamaw, and other groups who might have taken in Roanoke survivors are providing important information that bears on the subject of what happened to the colonists. Information on the native tribes just before and just after first contact with Europeans is reviewed, along with diaries and other contemporary accounts of early English explorations and settlements. Much of the available information provides tantalizing evidence that some of the colonists survived and were assimilated into local Native American tribes.

Working with DNA
The Autosomal Me - Unraveling Minority Admixture

A composite of the series, "The Autosomal Me," from the blog. This series includes detailed instructions for people with small amounts of minority admixture to determine which of their genealogy lines contributed that admixture.

Who am I Related To - Matching within Projects
Understanding SNPs and Haplogroups
Y-Line DNA Results - What Do They Mean and What Do I Do With Them?
Mitochondrial DNA Results - What Do They Mean and What Do I Do With Them?
What Does the MCRA Really Mean?

Real life examples of how to use the time to Most Common Recent Ancestor (MCRA) calculations.

Generational Surnames and Autosomal DNA Matching
5 Quick Steps to Genealogy Success

More than five quick tips to help anyone with their genealogy. This is the modern day equivalent of leaving a trail of bread crumbs.

Autosomal DNA Testing and Analysis

This paper explains how autosomal testing works and provides examples of the various tests and results.

Creating Your Personal DNA Pedigree Chart

For those who are hoping to prove minority heritage, creating a personal pedigree chart is essential. It’s a useful tool for anyone who is interesting in documenting the DNA heritage of all of their ancestral lines. Includes a color DNA pedigree chart to start the process.

Basics - DNA Testing for Genealogy 101 - What Can It Do For You??

This paper explains the basics of DNA testing for genealogy. This is THE paper for beginners and those wanting to understand how DNA testing works and who to test for the best results.

Genetic Genealogy Resources

A handout  for conferences and speaking engagements that provides a list of resources for genetic genealogy.

Mitochondrial DNA Haplogroups, Quick Reference

This provides a one paragraph quick and basic description of each mitochondrial DNA haplogroup.

Time to Most Common Recent Ancestor and Mutation Rates

This article explains about how the time to the most common recent ancestor is calculated, how mutation rates are involved, and how the generation length affects these calculations. This is most useful for those who are trying to understand how they match others with the same or different surnames.

  What do I do with my DNA Results? - 10 Easy Steps

Ten easy tips for what to do with DNA results and how to better use them for genealogy. This is focused on the results of Family Tree DNA customers.

Y DNA Haplogroups, Quick Reference

This provides a one paragraph quick and basic description of each Y-line.


Ethnicity Category
McMillan Revisited

This paper takes a critical look at Hamilton McMillan's work with the Lumbee and uses historical resources not previously available to confirm or refute his theories and writings.

Identifying Cherokee Ancestors

This paper provides research tools for those seeking to document and prove Cherokee heritage. Also applies in a limited fashion to the other 4 "Civilized Tribes", Creek, Choctaw, Chickasaw and Seminole.

Great Grandma was a Full Blooded Cherokee Princess ~ Now What????
DNA Testing and the Melungeons - 2008

This paper was written for the Melungeon Historical Society and focused on DNA testing for Melungeon heritage. The Melungeons were a tri-racial group of individuals who were primarily settled in Hancock and Hawkins Counties in Tennessee and Scott and Russell Counties in Virginia in the early 1800s. Recently, autosomal testing has been construed to “prove” exotic ancestry for the Melungeons, and this paper discussed the various tests used, what they do and don’t prove, and why.

Finding Ancestors of Bondage and Color

A short article about ethnic heritage.

Melungeons and DNA – 2009

This paper is a summary of a conference presentation given by Roberta at the Melungeon Historical Society conference in Rogersville, Tn. in June of 2009. This discusses who the Melungeons are, who they are not, and what DNA testing has shown to date. Roberta is the DNA Advisor for the Melungeon Core DNA project, the Melungeon Historical Society and is a board member as well.

Mixed Heritage – The Jumble that We Are

An entertaining and enlightening story about Roberta’s early memories of Native American heritage and the social ramifications of carrying that ancestry. As an adult, she discovered her African roots as well. Join her on her journey.

New Native American Haplogroup

A new Native American haplogroup was discovered by a research team in late 2010. Read how it was discovered, who was involved, and how genealogy played a large part. Sometimes scientific breakthroughs result from a combination of newly developed scientific techniques, synchronicity and opportunity. In other words, being at the right place at the right time, sprinkled with a little bit of luck.

For the tens of thousands of Americans today who seek their Native American ancestors via Y chromosomal DNA testing, that search just got a little bit easier, thanks to Roberta Estes, Leonard Trujillo, Thomas Krahn at Family Tree DNA and Rebekah Canada, the haplogroup Q project administrator.

Proving Your Native American Heritage

This paper explains the various tests available to genealogists who are seeking to prove their Native American or other minority heritage, how they work, what they mean and how to interpret the results.

Historical - Lost Colony Related Category
Following the Croatoan

This award winning paper follows the evolution of the Croatoan Indians on Hatteras Island into the Hatteras Indians and documents what eventually happens to the tribe.

Beechland: Oral History versus Historical Records

This paper takes a look a the oral history of Beechland (NC) that includes the Lost Colonist and Native American families, and compares that history to available records to determine if the records confirm of disprove the oral history.

Lost Colony Indigenous Groups

Article and references related to the Native American tribes and other groups associated with the Lost Colony and the area where the colonists may have located, if they in fact survived.

The Lost Colony – Colonist Roster and Other People of Interest - 2009

This includes the Roster of the Lost Colony, a list of others involved in the earlier preparatory military colonies and a list of families believes to be Native and are considered to be “of interest” as possible descendants of the Lost Colony in North Carolina.

   The Story of Roanoke, Sir Walter Raleigh’s Lost Colony

How did 117 English people come to be lost on the North Carolina Outer Banks in 1587? What events in Europe led up to the first English colony in the New World? Why were they abandoned for three years? How did John White attempt to find the colonists, and what efforts were made to locate them after 1590? Did they survive?





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