If you're interested in tracing your family's roots, Dr. Gates says there are two ways to get started. You can log on to websites like, which has a monthly subscription fee, and search a database for distant relatives.

Dr. Gates says the second option is your local genealogical society. "I live in Cambridge, as you know, [where] it's the New England Genealogical Society. You can walk in off the street. There's one in New York," he says. "They're all over the country."

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