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About us

This genetic genealogy project is aimed at finding out the ancestral relationships between the different Briese families that emigrated to North America, Australia and South America in the 19th and early 20th centuries and those that remained in their European homeland. 

The surname "Briese" appears to have two distinct origins, one German and the other Frisian/Flemish. It is relatively rare, with only about 5000 people worldwide having the surname. As many Brieses now live in the countries to which their ancestor emigrated as live in their German/Frisian homelands. Most Brieses these descend from the German line and came from the old Prussian provinces of Brandenburg, Pomerania, East and West Prussia, and Posen. Here, Briese is an “Ortsname” - a place name - of Slavic-German origin (see “Why is the family tree a silver birch? The meaning of the Briese name” for more detail on this origin of the name). Prior to the 14th century few people in northern Europe had family names and when people began to adopt such names in the middle ages, people living in places called Briese took that on as their family name to identify themselves as coming from that place. This means that people taking on the surname were related by location, but not necessarily by blood. Hence, not all Brieses will be genetically related, though those coming from a similar region in more recent times may well be.  For example, quite a few emigrant Briese families originated in the Deutsch Krone region of West Prussia and these have already been shown to be related by DNA testing. The Frisian Briese surname appears to have been derived from the old Celtic name "Brice", and their relationship to the German line remains unknown. More information, published articles and maps on the distribution of the Briese surname, genealogical records and emigration can be found on the Briese Surname Project website.

It is precisely to try and unravel this intricate web of relationships that this project has been set up. The test is based on the paternal y-DNA. Hence, any direct male descendant with a Briese surname can participate. Preferably, you will be able to provide the name and origin of your earliest known Briese ancestor.

We welcome not only participants who are descended from emigrant Briese families, but those who still live in Germany, as this could re-establish lost links between emigrant and non-emigrant Brieses.

For any questions, please contact Gail or David.

How to Join the Project and Order a DNA Test

DNA Tests are carried out by Family Tree DNA, which is the foremost company doing DNA analyses for genealogical purposes. New participants can join the Briese Surname Project by purchasing a Y-DNA-37 test from Family Tree DNA (this is the basic test for surname research). This only works on males so if you are female you will have to get your father, brother or male cousin to take the test.  Only males have the Y chromosome. This is passed from father to son. It is not passed from father to daughter.

There is a discount of $20 off the usual price if you buy it through our project. This will bring the price down to US$109.

1) Click on the JOIN button to the right in the picture above

2) In the pop-up window, under “Don’t Have A Test?”, click on "Submit a Request to Join this Project".

3) A new page appears. Click on "Order Now" for the Y-DNA-37 test (4th test down beneath the heading “Male Line Testing - For Genealogy and Anthropology”.

4) Click on "male" beside "Select this testers gender" , then replace the words Tester’s name with your own name, using the “edit” link. Next, click on the green "Proceed to Checkout" button and complete your purchase.

5) Once your kit arrives, follow the instructions for swabbing the inside of your cheek. If you like, you can also watch a Youtube video on how to collect the DNA sample. You will collect two samples, one for each of the 2 plastic tubes. Do not eat for 1 hour before swabbing. Swab for one minute for each sample. Fill in the white Submission Form and the green Consent Form. Be sure to write your email address clearly. Post it back to the lab in the envelope provided.

6) Once your sample has been received by the lab, you will receive an email with a password to your own personal webpage on the FTDNA website. This is where your results will be posted when they are ready.

7) Your test results should arrive 6-10 weeks later.

8) If you decide to join the project, please include the name, birth date and location of your most distant paternal ancestor in your profile or provide them to the project administrators.