In addition, Harvard University professor Henry Louis Gates has done genealogical research through two TV programs tracing the history of notable African-Americans and a second program last year called "Faces of America," tracing the genealogy of prominent Americans. Professor Gates learned, for instance, that he has more than 50 percent European ancestry, far more than he ever thought.
The National Archives in Washington, D.C., recently hosted its seventh annual genealogy fair. Seven years ago, says Diane Dimkoff, director of customer services for the archives, 700 people attended the first fair. This year, nearly 5,400 visitors came.
Ancestry.com, a company that allows visitors to create a family tree free of charge, now has 24 million family trees on its website. "Literally billions of records have been put online in the last couple of years," says Josh Hanna, executive vice president and general manager of Ancestry.com.