Local History and Genealogy
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For decades, local history room staff have witnessed the amazing thrill people get when they locate that lost ancestor, solve a family mystery, or simply find a grandparent recorded in the U.S. Census. Genealogical research enthralls millions worldwide. To those of us involved in this community, it might seem that genealogy could not get any bigger--but that is clearly not the case. Public radio’s Marketplace recently aired a segment “How Big is Genealogy” which discussed the huge popularity of the hobby. This was demonstrated, in part, by two primetime television shows airing this season. Henry Louis Gates, creator of African American Lives, returns to the topic of genealogy with the four part PBS series Faces of America in which he reveals the family history of 12 American celebrities. Part two premiers February 17. NBC has also discovered the allure of genealogy. Partnering with Ancestry.com, they will air a similar show called Who Do You Think You Are? next month. With the influx of retiring baby boomers, this trend will likely continue to grow-- and we’ll be ready for it in the local history room.