Roots In The 21st Century

Activists of Pakistan People's Party shout slogans as they hold pictures of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto, now exiled, during a demonstration in Lahore, May 5, 2007. President Pervez Musharraf banned Bhutto on Friday from returning to Pakistan for upcoming elections.
Arif Ali/AFP/Getty Images

It is the favorite pastime of millions of Americans, one of the most popular searched-for subjects on the Internet, and a burgeoning multi-million-dollar business. Once the exclusive hobby of "bluebloods," genealogy has become democratized.

In libraries, county courthouses, and city halls across the country, millions of Americans every year pore over old records and play detective - in search of their family tree. This Sunday Morning, Correspondent Rita Braver explores the rising popularity of genealogy and the remarkable links it can make between distant cousins, ancestor and descendant, past and present.

Here is a sampling of online rescources:

  • The National Archives and Records Administration This official Web site of the National Archives in Washington provides a guide to using the many resources of the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). You will find online guides for beginning your genealogical search and for requesting records from NARA, as well as an extensive list of resources.
  • The Library of Congress The Local History and Genealogical Reading Room of the Library of Congress' Web site provides guidelines and access to one of the world's premier collections of U.S. and foreign genealogical and local historical publications. The library's genealogy collection dates back to 1815, when the government purchased Thomas Jefferson's library.
  • The U.S. Census Bureau The Frequently Asked Questions about genealogy page of the bureau's Web site provides excellent information on where and how to obtain information related to your genealogical search. Although the census can be a source of genealogical information, the Census Bureau does not provide these data. The Census Bureau is not able to locate missing persons, or provide recent information.

  • Ellis Island Records This site provides easy access to ships' passenger manifest records of immigrants who entered through Ellis Island. These records include information in the following categories:
    • Immigrant's given and surname
    • Ethnicity
    • Last residence
    • Date of arrival
    • Age at arrival
    • Gender
    • Marital status
    • Ship of travel
    • Port of departure
    • Line number on which they appear on the manifest
  • Family Search Compiled by the Church of Latter Day Saints, this site hosts one of the most comprehensive genealogical archives. The Family History Library includes records from the United States, Canada, the British Isles, Europe, Scandinavia, Latin America, Asia, Australia, New Zealand, and Africa.
  • The National enealogical Society Founded in 1903, the National Geographic Society is a service organization that leads and educates the national genealogical community. The organization assists members in tracing family histories and serves more than 17,000 members, including individuals, families, and various genealogical associations and societies.

    The World Family Tree Project This extensive genealogical resource site offers everything from a people-finder search engine, to family-finding software and online genealogical search classes.

    Heritage Quest From the "novice center" and genealogical software reviews, to guides to searching for European ancestors, Heritage Quest has excellent genealogical resources and features.

Other popular sites are:

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