Recently, Norma wrote in with this question about getting DNA from a hair sample:
“My sister-in-law’s father passed away before she could have his DNA tested. She does have samples of his hair. She was wondering if there is a lab who would do DNA testing for genealogy using hair samples? FamilyTree DNA and 23 and Me both do not do testing on hair. There are no other male relatives that she is aware that could be tested. She is interested in the yDNA especially.”
I turned to Your DNA Guide at Genealogy Gems, Diahan Southard, and here’s her answer:
“Good question! This is a common concern for many. Unfortunately, cut hair (which I am assuming is what you have) does not contain the necessary material for DNA testing. If he had any teeth pulled that she had saved, that would be a good source. Even sometimes a razor will work.
But even if you could find a suitable sample, as you mentioned, the standard genealogical testing companies do not accept non-standard samples. There is a company who does, called Identigene, but the testing is expensive, and really won’t give you what need, which is access to a yDNA database to look for matches.
Your best route is to continue to look for a direct paternal descendant of the line of interest. If your friend’s dad didn’t have any brothers, then what about her grandfather? Are there any first cousins around? What you are looking for is a living male who has the surname you are interested in.
If you can’t find one, your friend can still explore the autosomal DNA test, which will tell her about her paternal side, just in a less direct manner.