By Candice Choi, AP Personal Finance Writer
NEW YORK (AP) — Genealogy is hot again.
Shows such as "Faces of America" on PBS and "Who Do You Think You Are?" on NBC are renewing the country's fascination with family histories. And unlike when the TV series "Roots" aired in the 1970s, consumers now have numerous tools to dig up their ancestral pasts.
Web sites that enable you to research your family tree or submit to DNA testing can be costly, however, and the results likely won't be as dramatic as shown on TV.
It should also be noted that services can be limited depending on your family heritage.
Here's a look at what three major sites offer.
How It Works: A monthly subscription gives you access to 4 billion public records, including Census records from 1790 to 1930.
To help wade through the database, start by filling in a family tree with whatever information you have. If you punch in a grandparent's name and approximate date of birth, for example, the site turns up public records that may be matches.Users can make family trees public too, so those created by others will turn up in a search if you share a common relative.
When testing the site, a colleague with a common Irish last name quickly uncovered new information on her family. Within a few minutes, she found a photo of her grandmother that a relative had uploaded, as well as a Census record on her maternal grandfather.
How much your own search digs up will depend in part on how long your family has been in the country.
Records from outside the U.S. cost extra and largely come from the United Kingdom, Canada and Australia.