Sep 15, 2011 - News

Tracing Women’s Ancestry on Anderson Cooper’s Show


More than two decades ago, on opposite sides of the country, two babies were cast away with slim chances of surviving.

“Miraculous Mary,” as she was called then, was found along a California highway wrapped in a towel and stuffed into a brown paper bag, while “Baby Jane Doe” was found in a box with the trash in a Bronx alley.
Both babies survived.

Mary became Ashley and Baby Jane became Alison. Despite their dark beginnings, the two women, now 24, wanted to know about where they came from. Their stories and the story about how they traced their ancestry was told this week on Anderson Cooper’s new show Anderson.

The two women and the shows producers turned to 23andMe to help fill in the blanks.

Joanna Mountain, Senior Director of Research, traced the two women’s genetic history using samples of their saliva.
23andMe has several tools to help customers explore their ancestry, Ancestry Painting, which break down a person’s ancestral origins and Relative Finder which pair people with close family matches as well as more distant cousins who may be in our database of more than 100,000 people.

Joanna was able to explain that Alison’s DNA – which included a mix of European, African and Native American ancestry – indicated that her parents were likely Puerto Rican. Looking at Ashley’s DNA, Joanna was able to determine that her ancestry was exclusively European. But in a surprising twist for Ashley, who was raised Catholic, her DNA revealed not just northern European ancestry but also Ashkenazi Jewish ancestry.

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