1921 Tulsa Identification Project
Our nonprofit DNA laboratory is honored to assist the City of Tulsa in identifying victims of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre. A number of massacre victims were buried in unmarked graves. As part of an important effort to identify victims, the City exhumed a number of bodies in the summer of 2021.
As we work to identify the remains, we are asking for help from anyone with information regarding stories, records, and more. We are especially interested in those that had family members in Tulsa in 1921.
Photo Credit: Universal History Archive / Getty Images
Get the Latest Updates from the 1921 Graves Investigation Including Locations and Surnames of Interest
Photo Credit: Tulsa Historical Society
On June 1, 1921, it is estimated that hundreds of Black residents and businesspersons in the Greenwood District of Tulsa were slain in one of the worst single-incident acts of racial violence in United States history. More than 1,200 homes were burned, and nearly all of the businesses in the thriving "Black Wall Street" were destroyed.
Photo Credit: National Archives
A thorough account of the Tulsa Race Massacre including timelines, first hand accounts, historical documents and more.
Information on the progress of the 1921 Graves Project investigation provided by the City of Tulsa
Black Wall Street and Tulsa Race Massacre historical documents and classroom resources
We need your help.
Information collection prior to our genealogical work is an important part of this process. The more information we are able to gather regarding families from 1921, the greater chances we have of identification.
Whether you have family stories, have taken a DNA test, would like to take one or have a family tree (digital or written), we would love to hear from you.
Please consider providing any information you feel might be helpful via our online form below.
If you need assistance to complete the form, please visit any one of the Tulsa City-County Library locations.
Help us cover DNA Testing costs associated with this project. Donating to our organization ensures that we keep our costs low, but more importantly allows to assist groups and organizations with DNA services that they may not be able to afford.
Our nonprofit DNA laboratory is honored to assist the City of Tulsa in identifying victims of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre.
We firmly believe in transparency, and in acknowledging the historic nature of this project, we will be documenting our progress extensively as we move throughout the 3 phases of proposed work.
The first phase of the project should take about a month, depending on the condition of the remains, to complete. This includes receiving the materials, extraction and then quanitification of DNA from the materials in order to create a DNA profile.
This phase should take about 42-60 days after the processing tasks have been completed. This includes reviewing the DNA profiles created and conducting genomic sequencing in order to create a comprehensive DNA profile of the individual remains being tested.
This is the longest phase of our project and will take 60-120 days (at a minimum) after phase 2 is completed. Once a comprehensive DNA profile is created it then goes to our team of Investigative Genetic Genealogists to create family trees and identify potential descendants.
What is the status of the 1921 Graves Investigation?You can read more about the progress from the City of Tulsa website here: https://www.cityoftulsa.org/government/mayor-of-tulsa/1921-graves-investigation/ You can also see our latest project updates here.
What can I do to help with identification of the remains from the mass grave?We’ve created an online form for you to provide any information you think would be helpful - stories, images, links, family trees, etc. If you need help filling out the form, you can visit any Tulsa City-County Library location. Also, you can volunteer your DNA for comparison to the remains that have been found. Additionally, Intermountain Forensics is a nonprofit organization. We appreciate any donations to help cover lab costs and other expenses related to this important project. You can make your tax-deductible donation here: link
Why are you collecting stories, DNA and family trees from people that may have had family ties to the massacre?This information will help us gather preliminary data that will be very important for our genealogical research phase. The more information we are able to gather regarding the families from 1921, the greater chances we have of identification.
How do I take a DNA test?You can take a test with any company that makes DNA tests available to consumers, such as FamilyTreeDNA.com, MyHeritage.com, Ancestry.com, or 23andMe.com. Each company will have detailed instructions on how to create an account, take a test and send it back for results. Please NOTE: For those who believe they may be direct descendants of Tulsa Race Massacre victims, a free DNA kit can be provided so that your family’s DNA is represented in this project. Please contact us at email@example.com to discuss your options. Once your results are ready, the next step will be copying your DNA file to GEDmatch.com. This will involve creating a free account at GEDmatch and uploading the file. We can walk you through this process, or there are instructions on the website and helpful YouTube videos. After you have uploaded your DNA file, GEDmatch will assign you an anonymous “Kit Number.” Please send your kit number to us at the email here when your GEDmatch upload is complete. If you need assistance, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Will my DNA profile be kept confidential?When uploading to GEDmatch, you will be allowed to choose the level of confidentiality you want. While our genetic genealogy partners are working on this project, your profile will be available to them for matching in GEDmatch. After the work is complete, or if you change your mind at any time about allowing your DNA to be compared to the unidentified remains, your profile can be deleted. If you decide to keep your profile in GEDmatch, you will help with this kind of work in the future. For a detailed chart outlining the different paths available, please see our DNA Comparison Pathways. If you would like more detailed information about this process, please also see our Investigative Genetic Genealogy (IGG) statement.
I’ve already taken a DNA test. What do I do next?IF you have NOT uploaded your DNA profile to GEDmatch: Click here for a video on how to do it! GEDmatch will assign you a “Kit Number.” Please send your kit number to us at email@example.com when your GEDmatch upload is complete. IF you have already uploaded to GEDmatch: Please send your kit number to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. * Upload to GEDmatch is voluntary. DNA testing companies do not automatically upload DNA files from their clients. Please be sure to read the terms of service and site policy at GEDmatch to make sure you are comfortable with them. For a detailed chart outlining the different paths available, please see our DNA Comparison Pathways. Users should consider that even though GEDmatch was created for genealogical research, it can and has been used for other purposes.
What happens to my DNA file after this project is over?That is completely up to you. Here are your options: 1. Keep your DNA information in GEDmatch. With this option, you can either be an active participant and continue to see and connect with your matches OR just leave your DNA in GEDmatch and allow it to be a part of the database that helps in other genetic genealogy research. 2. Delete your account in GEDmatch. Your DNA cannot and will not be accessed or used for further research.
Are there ways to help that don’t require me to submit my DNA?Of course! We still would like to hear from you. You can fill out our form where you can submit stories, your family tree, images, links and more here: online form You can also DONATE to help cover the costs of lab fees, test kits, community outreach, and other parts of this important project.
Thank you to our Partners
A project of this scale is not done by one organization alone. We have been very lucky to have some amazing partners join us. We will try to keep this list updated as much as possible to reflect those organizations and individuals who have given assistance.
Our Forensic Investigative Genetic Genealogy work is conducted by a team of highly engaged volunteers. In addition to our FIGG team at the Cold Case Coalition, we would also like to thank the following organizations for assisting in the 1921 Tulsa Identification Project:
Colleen Fitzpatrick at Identifinders International
Margaret Press & her team at DNA Doe Project
CeCe Moore at DNA Detectives