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[Update] Uncovering the Past: Significant progress in the Tulsa 1921 Graves Project - Two New DNA Profiles and Updated Surnames/Locations of Interest



As the 103rd anniversary of the tragic 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre approaches, the City of Tulsa's quest to identify victims and connect with their relatives is gaining momentum. At the forefront of this effort is our team at Intermountain Forensics, a proud partner in this critical investigation. 

 

Unraveling History with DNA Analysis 

In our collaboration with the City of Tulsa, we have made significant strides in the DNA analysis of remains from the Oaklawn Cemetery. Our dedicated team is working tirelessly to uncover the identities of those who perished during the massacre, using advanced forensic techniques to update and refine genealogical profiles. 

 

Thanks to the invaluable assistance from the public, through shared family stories and DNA contributions, we have been able to update surnames in several genealogy profiles. This collaborative effort is crucial in our mission to bring closure to families affected by this historical injustice. 

 

Progress in Identifications 

Our efforts in the 1921 Tulsa Graves Project have led to groundbreaking progress in these genetic genealogy investigations. Utilizing state-of-the-art DNA sequencing technology and advanced genealogical methods, we have successfully constructed detailed genetic profiles from the remains exhumed at Oaklawn Cemetery. These profiles are compared against authorized DNA databases, allowing us to trace familial connections and progressively narrow down potential placement within a family group. This methodical approach has enabled us to update critical information and refine our search, bringing us closer and closer to definitive identifications. With each passing day, as more DNA relatives contribute to the project, we move closer to solving these historical mysteries.

 

Our recent work has also led to the generation of two additional genealogy profiles from the exhumed burials. One profile now includes associated surnames and locations of interest, while the other is nearing a similar release of information. We encourage anyone with these surnames or locations in their family history to visit our website and click the “Provide Information” button to contribute to this ongoing investigation. 

 

The most up to date information regarding progress and names/locations of interest can be found here: 


The Importance of Public Participation

We are often asked how close we are to making identifications. The answer depends entirely on additional DNA comparisons and information from family members we are trying to contact. DNA comparisons from key individuals related to specific burials could lead to identifications quite quickly. The crucial role that the closest living family members play in this process cannot be overstated. That is why we are so grateful to all who are willing to meet with our genealogy team and provide assistance. Their contributions are vital to our progress and success.

 

Community and Expert Collaboration 

Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum expressed his gratitude for the experts and public participants driving this project forward. "Six years ago, we wanted descendants and the community to have more answers, and today we are one step closer on the identification side," said Mayor Bynum. "I feel a great sense of responsibility to follow through on what we promised, and I’m eager for the process to continue." 

 

Director of Laboratory Development, Danny Hellwig, echoed this sentiment: "All of us at Intermountain Forensics are both humbled and honored to contribute to such a pivotal initiative. The assistance from the public has been invaluable, and continued support of family stories and DNA comparisons will be crucial as we move forward in this historic work." 


Our collaboration extends beyond just Intermountain Forensics and the City of Tulsa; it includes a humbling collection of amazing partners in the investigative genetic genealogy community. In addition to our own team of genetic genealogists, we express our heartfelt gratitude to the Cold Case Coalition (www.coldcasehelp.com), Identifinders International (www.identifinders.com), DNA Doe Project (www.dnadoeproject.org), DNA Detectives (www.thednadetectives.com), and Moxxy Forensics (www.moxxyforensics.com) for their continued assistance in this historic investigation. Their expertise and support have been invaluable in the intensive and methodical process of investigation. 

 

Our Commitment 

At Intermountain Forensics, we are committed to shedding light on historical injustices through science. We have successfully generated eight usable investigative genetic genealogy profiles from the Oaklawn Cemetery excavations. Our team, alongside our dedicated partners, is intensely researching DNA relatives to identify individuals who have been lost to their loved ones for over 100 years. 

 

Ongoing Efforts 

Our work is far from over. The City of Tulsa continues its efforts with DNA samples from previously exhumed burials, and we remain dedicated to supporting this mission until every identity is uncovered. We will keep the public informed with updates as progress is made. 

 

Get Involved 

If you have any family stories or DNA information that might aid our research, we urge you to contribute. Visit our website (http://tulsa1921dna.org/) and click the “Provide Information” button to join us in this meaningful journey of remembrance and justice. 

 

Together, we can honor the past and attempt to use innovative precision science to expand our knowledge surrounding the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre. Thank you for your continued support and contributions to this vital cause. 

 




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