Yesterday, I received my 2010 Census form in the mail. I remember all the hoopla surrounding Census 2000. I was in New York at the time, and it seemed like everyone there was really stoked about being counted. Census reps could even be seen canvassing the neighborhoods, taking the time to ensure that the nation’s population would be adequately documented.

It made me think about all the world events that have occurred within the past 10 years: 9/11, the recession, the first known president of partially African descent.

These are big deals, which will surely affect in some way our nation’s final head count. It got me thinking about families and all the great things that come with knowing your origins and saying to future generations, “Hey! I was here!”

Is your genealogy something that you’ve often been interested in researching? If so, you’re not alone.

Celebrities are equally concerned with knowing more about their ancestors and family secrets, as evident on NBC’s new show, “Who Do You Think You Are?” With help from, stars such as Sarah Jessica Parker, film director Spike Lee and Lisa Kudrow have gained valuable information in their search to study their family tree.

Parker learned that she is the descendant of a 20-something who lost his life shortly after participating in the Gold Rush of the 1800s. This contradicts what she had always been told growing up, which was that her family on both sides was comprised of immigrants and lacking in any real fascinating tales of lineage. can do the same for you. This Web site is quick and easy to use. Just type your surname into its database; within seconds, history buffs unearth a number of possible matches to the family’s long-lost parents, siblings, children and troublemakers. Much of the information on file is even derived from Census records of decades past and is free.

For anyone who has ever wondered where their crazy surname comes from (this means you, Mr. or Ms. Lipschitz!), you can now research its origins at House of Names ( This free database gives a fantastic explanation of not only the geographical origins of one’s ancestors, but also tells the history (in some cases) of our surnames’ migration to America or throughout the continent of Europe. There is even an accompanying image of each name’s crest for those interested in using the image on family documents and/or insignia.

Genealogy results are now easy to acquire for members of the black community as well. Slavery and lack of records kept for African Americans once made it difficult to search for proper records of generations past. Not only that, but many black people growing up in this country may be Jamaican or Haitian – a detail that could make a regular search a bit more tedious.

But never fear, because African Ancestry is here. This organization’s Web site ( offers a number of helpful resources for black people around the globe (or the K-Feds of the world, steeped in wishful thinking) to narrow the gap between their modern family and their distant relatives.

One that is garnering a ton of controversy is the mitochondrial DNA test. This exam (administered by swabbing the inside of the mouth) takes a DNA result broken down from either the maternal or paternal family line. Not only does it show ethnic breakdown (like, 12 percent European, three percent Asian, 85 percent African), it can even show the general region of the African content in which the subject’s family line was derived.

This is big news for those who have always wondered if their grandmother’s high cheekbones were caused by an Ethiopian ancestor or perhaps if they are the product of the co-mingling of the races. Unfortunately, unlike many of the sites listed, this test doesn’t come free. It’s roughly $275 for one person and nearly $300 to test two individuals.

Just remember, the census may seem insignificant to you now. But before you toss it aside, think of it this way: Maybe 200 years down the line, your great-great-great-great-granddaughter or grandson may decide he or she wants to get to know you and your immediate family better. You’ll be bestowing those future generations with a desired gift when they find your name listed among the population records.