It just so happens that Cyndi Howells was the keynote speaker (Cyndi as in Cyndi’s List). It mentioned some of her family’s background (including her great-great-great-grandfather, a Union soldier who escaped from a Confederate Army Camp under interesting circumstances).
Two things jumped out at me (other than her discussing her own family’s past) – one, was that the article mentioned a poll from 2000 by Maritz Research that said about 60% of Americans are involved in genealogy. Of course that is a very wide-open generalization – you could make the argument that somebody who simply asked their parents about their grandparents or their great-grandparent was into family history). Still, I believe the number of Americans into it is very high. I don’t see ads on TV *yet*, but when you look at the recent MSN/Ancestry.com ad fiasco* , and you look around online in general, there is a big interest in it.
I think that the internet is what is driving genealogy these days, because it allows for far-flung cousins to be in contact with one another, and when you can transmit information between family members almost instantly, it’s hard not to be caught up in things.
Another thing that jumped out at me, was that the conference there in Missouri, the organizers had to turn people away, there were so many. Now I’m sure a large part of that has to do with the keynote speaker being very popular, but that goes back to just how big genealogy is getting these days.
When was the last time you heard about people being turned away at a genealogy conference, because there were too many people?