She didn’t have to wait long before Effie Jane Erhardt found her—that yellow truck was hard to miss.
Effie Jane pulled open the truck’s passenger door and announced Cheryl and Effie Jane met on Ancestry.com, a popular website for people trying to fill in their family trees.
In late 2012, a European private equity firm bought the company for $1.6 billion.
The second transformation came from rapid advances in genetic testing.
Her anxiety mounted as she drove her yellow pick-up past sleepy cornfields, old plantations, and cemeteries, up the peninsula and into mainland Virginia.
Then she pulled into the tiny parking lot of Panera Bread in Richmond.
But the growth of the databases also raises serious privacy concerns—not only for people who buy the tests, but for close or even distant family members who share some of their DNA.
Searching your genetic ancestry can certainly be fun: You can trace the migration patterns of 10,000-year-old ancestors, or discover whether a distant relative ruled a continent or rode on the Mayflower.After several email and phone encounters, each woman felt a kinship that neither had experienced before.Both were born in 1951, and grew up about 20 miles from each other in the Richmond area.Twenty years ago, doing genealogy meant hitting the pavement: traveling to local historical societies, courthouses, libraries, and cemeteries to paw through dusty books and records.Then came the internet, which made the most useful references—census and voter lists, birth certificates, military records, even the archives of local newspapers—accessible from home.Traditionally, amateur genealogical research was regarded as a niche hobby for older white men, but today it attracts people of all ages, races, and walks of life.