Overview of the Brown/Browne/Braun DNA Study
The Brown/Browne/Braun DNA Study is a volunteer genealogical
activity, whose main aim is to use DNA analysis for tracing
the histories of various Brown families, including those
with variants of the Brown surname like Browne, Broun,
Braun, Brun, Browning and Brownlee. The project is
coordinated by non-paid, amateur genealogists. About 95%
of the lab work for our tests has been done under a contract with Family Tree DNA
(FTDNA) of Houston, Texas.
The Brown project is now more than eleven years old and is still
growing. Rufus B. "Byron" Brown was our Founder, and he
served as Project Administrator until late 2002. Randall
Colston took up the post of Co-Administrator and Webmaster
in 2002. Jim Brown became Co-Administrator in late 2002,
upon Byron's retirement. Randall stepped down in 2008, and
Jim then became the Administrator.
The project now has results for more than 900 tested
members, who belong to some 390+ unrelated, biologically
separate Brown/Browne/Braun family lines. A number of
participants have reported significant breakthroughs in
their own genealogical research, thanks to the project.
What's more, we've had good success not only with DNA
matching, but even with people who have used genealogical
info at our website to connect with other Brown lines in
cases where their own Brown families have not yet had DNA
We're confident that successes like these will grow in
number as "the word gets out" concerning the power of DNA
analysis for genealogical research.
Our study and all other DNA surname projects are based on
Y-chromosome DNA, which is possessed only by males. It is
passed from fathers to sons virtually unchanged over
hundreds of years. Therefore, direct participants in DNA
surname studies necessarily must be males.
In other words, direct participants in our project, that is,
the men who are actually tested, must either (1) carry the
Brown surname or a "Brown like" surname; or at least (2) be
thought to descend
in an unbroken male-to-male line from a
Brown-surnamed male ancestor.
Please note however that if you are not yourself a test
candidate, you're still welcome to sponsor Brown-surnamed
male relatives as test participants, to join our project's
mailing list, and to help us recruit new candidates for
testing. In this regard, we hope you can pass this message
along to others who might be interested -- or even persuade
one of your Brown-surnamed male relatives to submit a DNA
sample for our project.
So if you have a Brown-surnamed brother, father, cousin,
nephew, or uncle who has at least a slight interest in
genealogy, maybe you can help enlist them in our
research! In fact, many female Browns and non-Brown cousins
have already become project members by sponsoring their
Brown-surnamed male relatives.
DNA samples for the study are furnished by means of a gentle
"swab" inside the mouth. The test is less trouble than
brushing your teeth and is completely painless. It does not
involve drawing blood or other intrusive methods, and it is
done at home with a small kit mailed directly to
participants. The cost is modest, starting at $54.00
for the basic test (12 markers), while the recommended test
for new participants (37 markers) is $154.00.
Results may be kept anonymous if a participant wishes,
although virtually all participants have opted to list their
full, real names alongside their results in an open
No project member receives any money from the study. The
only fees involved are the charges paid to FTDNA for test
kits and lab work, and FTDNA gives project members a
significant discount from the list prices.
Questions and Answers:
Who can be tested in the Brown Project?
You must be a male who descends (or who is thought to descend) from a
Brown-surnamed male ancestor in an
unbroken male-to-male line.
This qualification means that in most cases you will carry the "Brown"
surname or a variant like "Braun." But please be assured that adoptees and
other "biological Browns" are just as welcome.
This limitation to Brown males is necessary because the Y-Chromosome DNA
test is the only known way to track a surname that passes down from father
to son. The result comes about not only because women don't carry the Y
chromosome, but also because the Y chromosome is passed from father to son
with very little change over hundreds -- even thousands -- of years.
Who does the Actual Testing?
Family Tree DNA, a firm in Houston TX, has been the contractor for about 95%
of our tests. They make all arrangements for actual lab work, most of which
is done in-house at Houston, with other tests done at the University of Arizona.
We do accept test results from other labs and other firms, but we strongly
advise testing via FTDNA, due not only to their unparalleled variety of
tests and their excellent customer service, but also because they have by
far the largest customer database in the genealogy-DNA business. The large
size of this database greatly increases the probability that you'll find
matches if you test via FTDNA rather than via the other outfits.
(We aren't aware that other
firms have released info on the sizes of their customer
databases. But FTDNA now has a database of more than 300,000
tests of the sort used by the Brown DNA Study.)
Another reason for testing via FTDNA is this:
Even though some of the competing labs are entirely reliable
in a scientific sense, they all test slightly different
"menus" of DNA markers, meaning that it's difficult for our
project to compare and incorporate some of their results. On
the other hand, when you test via FTDNA, your results will
quickly and easily compared, marker by marker, not only with
the 900+ men in the Brown DNA Study, but also with the
hundreds of thousands of men in the FTDNA customer database
who aren't members of the Brown project.
The following link will take you to the FTDNA home page:
This site has detailed information on the uses of DNA for
genealogy. In particular, you will find the title "Tutorial"
on the right side of the page, below the search blocks. This
link will lead you to explanations of the testing process,
test kit contents and instructions, charts, and a host of
other information. This FTDNA information link it is an
outstanding resource, and we recommend it to you. Please
note, however, that if you want to be part of the Brown DNA
Study, you should NOT order your kit directly from FTDNA. We
say this because you won't get our special discount prices
unless you order through the project.
The Brown project has a few
members who have tested via other labs. So if you've tested
somewhere other than FTDNA, please contact us for
instructions on joining. Just email DNAforBrowns@aol.com.
What does it cost to be tested?
Currently the lowest cost "basic test" for project members
is the 12-Marker Y-chromosome test at $54.00. But we
strongly recommend that most participants order the
37-marker test, which costs $154.00. Please be sure to keep
in mind that these prices are discounted for the Brown DNA
Study. The kit must be ordered through a project like
get the discount. Individuals who order directly from FTDNA
will pay higher prices. Also, kits sent outside the USA
will incur an additional mailing charge of USD 2.00.
What is in the test Kit?
FTDNA will send a kit with contains two swabs, two vials
containing a DNA preservative,
instructions, and a release form to be signed. The
following link has a picture of the kit contents and
How do I Order a Test Kit?
First, please remember that all
test participants must be males who descend (or are
thought to descend) from a Brown-surnamed male ancestor
via an unbroken male-to-male line.
Second, just send an email with the information described
Information Needed for an Order:
To implement an
we need the male test participant's full name including middle name,
shipping address, billing address (if different
from shipping shipping address) and a contact E-mail address.
A contact phone number is optional.
We'd also appreciate a bit of your basic genealogical
information in the male-to-male line, most importantly the
birth and death residences/dates of your earliest known
Brown male ancestor. But if you don't have some of this
information, please just send what you can. And you may send
information on additional generations if you wish.
What if I have already tested
with a company other than FTDNA? May I still join the
You may join to
us if you've ALREADY tested with some lab or company other
than our regular contractor, Family Tree DNA. Among our 900+
members, about two dozen men fall into that category. But if
you haven't yet had a DNA test, we recommend most strongly
that you test only with FTDNA, simply in order to have
results fully compatible with the overwhelming majority of
Brown-surnamed men who have taken genealogical DNA tests.
Whom should I contact about the Brown DNA Study?