FAMILY HISTORY SURVEY                                                                                                          April 2011

Methodology

·         The Family History Survey was fielded March 12 to April 5 2011. Respondents were self-selecting, linking to the survey from Twitter feeds, genealogy blogs posts, Facebook pages, LinkedIn and email forwards

·         1050 respondents were recorded (I was expecting about 200). 954 respondents completed the survey. Resulting in a 91% completion rate

·         A variety of genealogists responded to the survey from the inexperienced to highly proficient. I make no claim to be have a random representative sample. There is a respondent skew towards those more connected via social media.

·         Survey completion length was typically 15-20 minutes

·         Final survey wording can be found here http://dl.dropbox.com/u/10556467/Questionnaire%20Final.htm  

Use of the data

·         The data that I publicly post on my blog, Dropbox, LinkedIn, Facebook pages or other such media are for public use, including the data shared in this document.

·         The results, data, and questionnaire can be re-posted, re-used, shared, linked to and chewed over as much as you like. Please use the results wisely, do not misrepresent the data or manipulate the results.

·         However, I do ask that you please:

o    Publicly comment on the data to help build the conclusions for the genealogy community, and encourage others to do the same - I am currently considering the best online venue to host the results and associated discussion. Maybe on the FamilySearch Wiki if someone can get me started. I welcome input.

o    Credit me, Myles Proudfoot, and my blog “family history 21ster”, when you reference this work

·         For personal access to more sophisticated analysis and data breaks please contact me at familyhistorysurveys@gmail.com

·         Please post comment and suggestions on my blog http://familyhistory21ster.blogspot.com/

Why this survey?

·         RootsTech 2011 was my 1st genealogy conference. Curt Witcher's keynote about “millennial genealogists“ got me thinking.

·         By trade I am a market researcher with a large consumer goods company. I am naturally curious about people. I have specialized over the years in understanding shopping behavior. I love genealogy. I am moderately tech savvy.

·         So I decided to do some “open source” research on the genealogy community

o    For the benefit of the community

o    And as I also have an ambition to present a paper at RootsTech 2012 based on the conclusions from the survey – we’ll see if it makes the cut and I get through a more sophisticated analysis and segmentation.

·         If this works out well, I will consider creating other surveys. But next time I will solicit the help and input from all those who expressed an interest, as the survey design errors were the result of my middle-of-the-road genealogy skills.

·         More about me here at LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/mylesproudfoot Feel free to friend me

Acknowledgements

·         I have been delighted and overwhelmed with the number of responses and intensity of feeling from all the positive and constructive feedback and encouragement. Sincere thanks to the 1050 individuals who took the time to thoughtfully complete the survey

·         Special thanks to all the bloggers and enthusiasts who shared the survey link and drove amazing participation. And thanks to the Ancestry Insider Blog for help and permission to use the Genealogical Maturity Model.

Results

Last Modified: 04/12/2011

1.  Please select the option that best describes your participation in family history research.

#

Answer

 

 

Response

%

1

I am actively doing family history research

 

 

892

87.4%

2

I occasionally do family history research

 

 

105

10.3%

3

I have previously done some family history research

 

 

23

2.3%

4

I have never done any family history research

 

 

1

0.1%

 

Total

 

1,021

100.0%

 

 

2.  How interested are you in knowing more about your family's lineage and history?

#

Answer

 

 

Response

%

1

Not interested at all

 

 

0

0.0%

2

Somewhat curious

 

 

9

0.9%

3

Quite interested

 

 

38

3.7%

4

Very interested

 

 

290

28.4%

5

Addicted

 

 

684

67.0%

 

Total

 

1,021

100.0%

 

 

3.  For how many years have you been actively engaged in genealogy in total?

#

Answer

Average Value

Standard Deviation

1

Total number of years I have been doing genealogy

18.5

12.4

 

 

4.  At what age did you start doing your genealogical research?

#

Answer

Average Value

Standard Deviation

1

Age I started doing genealogy

35.8

14.7

 


 

5.  The next question is about how you got started in genealogy. What originally sparked your interest in family history research? Check as many as apply

#

Answer

 

 

%

3

Television advertising

 

 

0.2%

20

Claiming an inheritance

 

 

0.3%

14

I was adopted

 

 

1.8%

1

Professional interest

 

 

3.6%

2

Television program

 

 

3.9%

16

Finding famous ancestors

 

 

4.5%

9

Birth in the family

 

 

5.4%

17

Free trial on a genealogy website

 

 

6.1%

4

An assignment or project given at school / college / club / scouts etc.

 

 

8.0%

5

Religious interest

 

 

8.1%

23

Understanding family's medical history

 

 

9.3%

22

I retired and had more time available

 

 

12.7%

18

Invited to do family history research by others

 

 

14.9%

7

New technology to aid genealogists

 

 

15.4%

6

Need to understand my ethnic roots

 

 

16.8%

8

Death in the family

 

 

16.9%

12

Preserving memories of a still living relative

 

 

20.5%

24

Other

 

 

20.7%

21

Uncovering the story or people behind family heirlooms

 

 

20.9%

13

Tracing lost relatives

 

 

22.6%

15

Understanding a family connection to historical events

 

 

22.8%

10

Uncovering a family mystery

 

 

23.8%

11

Preserving the memory of a deceased relative

 

 

26.6%

19

Continuing the research others started

 

 

31.9%

 

6.  How expert do you consider yourself to be in family history research?

#

Answer

 

 

Response

%

1

Entry -- Newly interested in genealogy

 

 

17

1.7%

2

Emerging -- Emerging knowledge of how to do genealogy

 

 

109

10.8%

3

Practicing -- Usually produce verifiable genealogy conclusions

 

 

426

42.1%

4

Proficient -- Produce verifiably correct genealogies

 

 

398

39.3%

5

Stellar -- Produce well-regarded genealogies

 

 

62

6.1%

 

Total

 

1,012

100.0%

Used with permission. The Genealogical Maturity Model is the work of The Ancestry Insider:  http://ancestryinsider.blogspot.com


7.  Choose the description that best describes your approach to genealogical sources

#

Answer

 

 

Response

%

1

I typically rely on already compiled genealogies

 

 

4

0.4%

2

I mostly rely on already compiled genealogies and online sources

 

 

45

4.5%

3

I use a limited number of record types and repositories. I mostly rely on online and microfilmed sources

 

 

322

32.0%

4

I use a wide variety of record types. I often contact record custodians to obtain copies of high-quality sources

 

 

341

33.9%

5

I insightfully pursue research at multiple, targeted repositories, making use of a very wide variety of records and record types.

 

 

294

29.2%

 

Total

 

1,006

100.0%

Used with permission. The Genealogical Maturity Model is the work of The Ancestry Insider:  http://ancestryinsider.blogspot.com

 

8.  Are you an amateur/hobbyist, academic, volunteer or professional genealogist?

#

Answer

 

 

Response

%

1

Amateur genealogist

 

 

672

66.9%

2

Academic genealogist

 

 

54

5.4%

3

Volunteer family history consultant

 

 

187

18.6%

4

Professional genealogist

 

 

113

11.3%

5

Not a professional genealogist but I do genealogy as a part of my job

 

 

60

6.0%

 

9.     How often do you do family history research?

#

Answer

 

 

Response

%

1

Never

 

 

1

0.1%

2

Once a Year or Less

 

 

10

1.0%

3

Several Times a Year

 

 

44

4.4%

4

Once a Month

 

 

24

2.4%

5

2-3 Times a Month

 

 

85

8.5%

6

Once a Week

 

 

73

7.3%

7

2-3 Times a Week

 

 

191

19.1%

8

4-6 Times a Week

 

 

209

20.9%

9

Daily

 

 

363

36.3%

 

Total

 

1,000

100.0%

 

10.  Where do you primarily keep your family tree information?

#

Answer

 

 

Response

%

1

In an online tree

 

 

134

13.4%

2

On my computer

 

 

759

75.8%

3

On paper

 

 

104

10.4%

4

In my head

 

 

2

0.2%

5

Nowhere/I don't have a tree

 

 

2

0.2%

 

Total

 

1,001

100.0%

 

 

11.  Thinking further about record keeping, how do you keep notes to track your research and findings?

#

Answer

 

 

Response

%

1

I don't keep a record of findings or clues

 

 

22

2.2%

6

I enter them into my smart phone/tablet

 

 

40

4.0%

4

I type them onto paper

 

 

52

5.2%

2

I use pre-formatted paper templates

 

 

114

11.5%

8

I use a digital camera to capture the images

 

 

215

21.6%

7

I keep them online

 

 

232

23.3%

3

I write them freehand in a notebook

 

 

351

35.3%

5

I type them into my computer

 

 

707

71.1%

 

 

12.  Where do you go to do your family history research? Check all that apply

#

Answer

 

 

Response

%

1

I stay home

 

 

871

87.5%

2

In public libraries

 

 

722

72.6%

3

At the facilities of genealogical societies

 

 

539

54.2%

4

In an LDS/Mormon Family History Center

 

 

540

54.3%

5

On site where original records are kept

 

 

640

64.3%

 


 

13.  Have you ever attended a family history conference or family history society meeting in person?

Note: This question incorrectly gave respondents only a single-check option, rather than a multi-check option.

#

Answer

 

 

Response

%

1

No

 

 

355

35.6%

2

Yes, as an attendee

 

 

488

48.9%

3

Yes, as an organizer

 

 

36

3.6%

4

Yes, as a presenter

 

 

91

9.1%

5

Yes, as a vendor

 

 

6

0.6%

6

Yes, as a blogger

 

 

21

2.1%

 

Total

 

997

100.0%

 

 

14.  When you make an important discovery in your research, who do you tell, if anyone?

#

Answer

 

 

Response

%

1

No one, I keep it to myself

 

 

19

1.9%

2

I blog about it/post comments online

 

 

244

24.5%

3

I immediately tell family members

 

 

710

71.2%

4

I immediately tell friends or associates

 

 

270

27.1%

5

I eventually tell others

 

 

232

23.3%

6

I haven’t made any important discoveries yet

 

 

12

1.2%

 

 

15.  How much do you focus on researching only one line of your family tree at a time?

#

Answer

 

 

Response

%

1

I focus my research on one or just a few lines of the family tree

 

 

192

19.4%

2

I like to jump around the tree and research wherever I see an opportunity

 

 

776

78.2%

3

Other/Not applicable

 

 

24

2.4%

 

Total

 

992

100.0%

 


 

 

16.  Have you ever visited the place(s) of origin of your ancestors in order to conduct family history research?

#

Answer

 

 

Response

%

1

Yes, once before

 

 

126

12.7%

2

Yes, several times

 

 

504

50.7%

3

No, but I have definite plans to visit one day

 

 

107

10.8%

4

No, but I would like to visit one day

 

 

210

21.1%

5

No, and it's unlikely that I ever will visit

 

 

48

4.8%

 

Total

 

995

100.0%

 

 

17.  Have any living relatives ever helped your research by sharing their memories, oral histories, documents, photos, or stories etc?

#

Answer

 

 

Response

%

1

Yes

 

 

935

94.0%

2

No, I have not asked for help

 

 

4

0.4%

3

No, they have all passed away

 

 

38

3.8%

4

No, none were willing to help

 

 

10

1.0%

5

No, other reason

 

 

8

0.8%

 

Total

 

995

100.0%

 

 

18.  Do you actively collaborate with anyone to find your family’s roots?

#

Answer

 

 

Response

%

1

I do the research alone

 

 

277

27.9%

2

I collaborate in the research with others, but at a distance

 

 

683

68.8%

3

I do the research with others at the same time and location

 

 

30

3.0%

4

I have others do the research on my behalf

 

 

3

0.3%

 

Total

 

993

100.0%

 


 

 

19.  Although you do your research alone, do you wish you could collaborate with others in researching the same family history, or not?

Note: Only respondents selecting "I do the research alone" option from the previous question were asked this question

#

Answer

 

 

Response

%

1

Yes, I’d like to have others’ help

 

 

152

55.3%

2

I have no preference

 

 

101

36.7%

3

No, I prefer to keep it to myself

 

 

22

8.0%

 

Total

 

275

100.0%

 

 

20.  Which of the following websites have you used in the past 3 months?

Note: Erratum Only respondents selecting "I do the research alone" option from question 18 were asked this question. An error caused by question order changes in the original questionnaire editing process.

#

Answer

 

 

Response

%

12

SearchForAncestors.com

 

 

1

0.4%

10

AncestorHunt.com

 

 

3

1.1%

8

FamilyLink.com

 

 

9

3.3%

11

AccessGenealogy.com

 

 

10

3.6%

7

MyFamily.com

 

 

16

5.8%

6

Geni.com

 

 

22

8.0%

17

Genuki.org.uk

 

 

37

13.5%

2

MyHeritage.com

 

 

38

13.9%

16

ScotlandsPeople.gov.uk

 

 

38

13.9%

14

USGWArchives.net

 

 

45

16.4%

13

GenealogyBank.com

 

 

55

20.1%

18

None/Other

 

 

69

25.2%

5

Genealogy.com

 

 

84

30.7%

15

CyndisList.com

 

 

123

44.9%

3

FindAGrave.com

 

 

175

63.9%

9

RootsWeb.com

 

 

193

70.4%

4

FamilySearch.org

 

 

219

79.9%

1

Ancestry.com /.co.uk /.ca /.com.au etc.

 

 

244

89.1%

 


 

 

21.  Do you have any paid subscriptions to genealogy societies or websites?

#

Answer

 

 

Response

%

1

One or more paid subscriptions to online family history websites

 

 

735

74.1%

2

One or more paid subscriptions to family history societies

 

 

420

42.3%

3

No, I have let my paid membership(s) lapse

 

 

112

11.3%

4

No, never

 

 

88

8.9%

 

 

22.  How likely would you be to use any of the following ways to improve your family history research skills?

Note: The higher the mean, the MORE likely use that method to improve skills

#

Question

Very Unlikely

Very Likely

Mean

5

One on one instruction

16.1%

13.4%

3.0

2

Podcasts

17.8%

20.9%

3.1

3

Wikis

14.5%

17.5%

3.2

7

Classroom course

10.3%

22.0%

3.4

1

Online video courses

10.8%

27.1%

3.6

9

Television programs

8.4%

28.9%

3.7

8

Blogs

8.8%

36.5%

3.8

4

Family history conferences

7.4%

32.2%

3.8

6

Books

2.7%

51.7%

4.3

 


 

23.  This question presents statements relating to genealogy. Please indicate how much you agree or disagree with each statement  Note: The HIGHER the mean, the more respondents DISAGREE

#

Question

Strongly Agree

Strongly Disagree

Mean

3

I anticipate spending many years enjoying genealogy

62.9%

0.6%

1.5

23

I regularly spend time doing genealogy

54.7%

0.4%

1.6

32

Online innovation and new technologies are changing genealogy for the better

53.7%

0.2%

1.6

15

I consider myself to be very serious about genealogy

55.8%

0.4%

1.6

19

My focus is on finding out what kind of people my ancestors were and the kind of lives they led

46.2%

0.7%

1.7

28

Genealogy has helped me better appreciate what makes me who I am

42.2%

0.4%

1.8

10

I like telling stories or anecdotes I have discovered about my ancestors

37.6%

0.7%

1.8

11

I really get into the historical context of the time and location I am researching

40.5%

0.5%

1.8

27

Genealogy has had a positive effect on my outlook on life

39.0%

0.4%

1.8

2

I think genealogy is a great way to relax

35.6%

0.4%

1.9

12

Genealogy is an emotional experience for me

35.6%

1.1%

1.9

33

I am concerned with leaving a legacy for future generations

37.0%

0.9%

1.9

14

I am savvy with new technology

29.6%

0.5%

2.0

7

I have specific goals to accomplish in my research

28.8%

0.4%

2.1

6

I like the journey, there is no specific destination

30.5%

2.2%

2.1

4

I want to find as many ancestors as possible

32.6%

3.0%

2.1

26

Genealogy has had a positive effect on my (living) family relationships

29.6%

0.7%

2.1

38

I regularly enjoy reading genealogy blogs

25.1%

1.8%

2.2

29

I actively give back to the genealogy community

27.0%

1.0%

2.2

8

I don’t mind spending long hours searching through microfilms

28.0%

1.8%

2.2

30

I would like to be more involved in the genealogy community

18.9%

1.3%

2.3

31

Being or becoming a member of a genealogy society is important to me

19.7%

3.4%

2.5

21

My research is well organized and methodical

12.8%

1.9%

2.5

37

Paying for access to records is just a reality everyone has to get accustomed to

16.4%

3.6%

2.5

35

I am well traveled

18.3%

4.2%

2.6

13

I'm always one of the first to access newly available records

14.0%

2.4%

2.6

16

I consider myself to be a recreational family historian

15.5%

9.0%

2.6

25

I am concerned about the low level of some people’s genealogy skills

19.2%

5.9%

2.6

9

I like telling people about how far back I can trace my ancestors

16.9%

5.3%

2.7

36

I wish my spouse/partner were more involved in family history

11.4%

3.8%

2.7

20

Genealogy is deceptively difficult

11.1%

8.2%

2.9

34

I have lived in many different places

15.9%

15.5%

3.0

22

My main focus is to solve a family mystery

7.9%

7.1%

3.1

18

My focus is on adding names and dates to my family tree

8.3%

11.3%

3.1

1

I like to add ancestors to my tree more than researching their life stories

2.0%

18.9%

3.7

5

I only do my research online

3.4%

27.4%

3.8

24

I just dabble in genealogy now and then

1.1%

50.6%

4.3

17

For me genealogy is more of a duty than a pleasure

1.4%

51.4%

4.3

Note: The HIGHER the mean, the more respondents DISAGREE

 

24.  Have you personally taken any DNA testing for genealogy purposes?

#

Answer

 

 

Response

%

1

Yes

 

 

203

20.8%

2

No

 

 

774

79.2%

 

Total

 

977

100.0%

 

 

25.  If you have any old photos, documents or artifacts, how do you store them?

#

Answer

 

 

Response

%

2

In the attic/loft

 

 

11

1.1%

3

In the basement

 

 

24

2.5%

1

I do not have any old photos, documents or artifacts

 

 

37

3.8%

8

Somewhere else

 

 

152

15.6%

4

In a cabinet or cupboard

 

 

250

25.6%

7

On display in frames or display cases

 

 

317

32.5%

5

In archival quality covers/containers

 

 

429

44.0%

6

In regular boxes or files

 

 

494

50.6%

 

 

26.   If you have scanned any family photos or documents, where do you store the scanned images?

#

Answer

 

 

Response

%

1

Not scanned any images for genealogy purposes

 

 

71

7.3%

2

I keep the scanned images online

 

 

309

31.8%

3

I keep the scanned images on a computer

 

 

884

90.9%

 


 

27.  What record types do you usually use in your research?

#

Answer

 

 

%

14

Other

 

 

37.1%

10

Schools, Directories & Church Histories

 

 

53.7%

12

Court, Governmental & Criminal Records

 

 

53.7%

5

Parish Records

 

 

62.3%

8

Citizenship & Naturalization Records

 

 

66.8%

11

Land Records

 

 

69.7%

13

Wills & Probate

 

 

75.1%

7

Passenger Lists

 

 

78.3%

9

Military Records

 

 

85.2%

4

Cemetery & Obituaries

 

 

95.7%

2

Marriage & Divorce

 

 

97.0%

1

Birth, Baptism & Christening

 

 

97.2%

6

Census Records

 

 

98.7%

3

Death & Burial

 

 

98.8%

 

 

28.  When do you usually do your family history research?

#

Answer

 

 

%

1

During the day

 

 

62.1%

2

Evenings

 

 

74.5%

3

Weekdays

 

 

48.8%

4

Weekends

 

 

64.3%

5

On vacation

 

 

31.9%

6

During public holidays

 

 

23.6%

7

At family gatherings

 

 

24.3%

8

During special occasions

 

 

10.2%

 


 

29.  What, if any, social networking services do you use?

#

Answer

 

 

Response

%

1

None

 

 

192

19.9%

2

Twitter

 

 

268

27.8%

3

Facebook

 

 

737

76.4%

4

MySpace

 

 

32

3.3%

5

LinkedIn

 

 

275

28.5%

6

Bebo

 

 

2

0.2%

7

FourSquare

 

 

22

2.3%

8

Other

 

 

106

11.0%

 

 

30.  Have you ever presented a printed family tree or research as a gift?

#

Answer

 

 

Response

%

1

Yes

 

 

528

54.2%

2

No, and no plans to

 

 

168

17.2%

3

No, but would like to

 

 

278

28.5%

 

Total

 

974

100.0%

 

 

31 & 32.   Which of the following devices do you own? Which do you use for family history research?

#

Answer

Own

Use for genealogy

1

Desktop computer

80.5%

72.0%

2

Laptop computer

78.7%

72.7%

3

Smart phone (iPhone, Android, Blackberry etc.)

33.9%

20.0%

4

Tablet (iPad etc.)

10.3%

8.2%

5

Scanner

88.9%

81.5%

6

Digital camera

89.7%

76.7%

7

GPS-enabled device

38.0%

19.9%

 

 


 

33.  Thinking about your ability to use the internet in general, would you say you are…?

#

Answer

 

 

Response

%

1

Expert internet user

 

 

325

33.5%

2

Proficient internet user

 

 

475

49.0%

3

Intermediate internet user

 

 

158

16.3%

4

Beginner internet user

 

 

11

1.1%

5

No knowledge at all

 

 

0

0.0%

 

Total

 

969

100.0%

 

 

34.  Do you work/volunteer for a family history company, organization or society, or not?

#

Answer

 

 

Response

%

1

Yes

 

 

378

39.0%

2

No

 

 

592

61.0%

 

Total

 

970

100.0%

 

 

35.  Have you ever hired a professional genealogist?

Note: Sample size lower as question added after start of survey fieldwork

#

Answer

 

 

Response

%

1

Yes

 

 

226

27.2%

2

No

 

 

606

72.8%

 

Total

 

832

100.0%

 

 

36.  Are you an active genealogy blogger, or not?

Note: Sample size lower as question added after start of survey fieldwork

#

Answer

 

 

Response

%

1

Yes

 

 

193

23.1%

2

No

 

 

641

76.9%

 

Total

 

834

100.0%

 


 

37.  In your family history research have you ever experienced an uncanny coincidence, serendipity or 'miracle' that led to a meaningful discovery or breakthrough?

#

Answer

 

 

Response

%

1

Yes

 

 

703

72.6%

2

No

 

 

265

27.4%

 

Total

 

968

100.0%

 

 

38.  Do you believe in life after death?

#

Answer

 

 

Response

%

1

Yes

 

 

490

50.9%

2

No

 

 

188

19.5%

3

Not sure

 

 

284

29.5%

 

Total

 

962

100.0%

 


 

DEMOGRAPHICS

 

39.  What is your gender?

#

Answer

 

 

Response

%

1

Male

 

 

228

23.7%

2

Female

 

 

733

76.3%

 

Total

 

961

100.0%

 

 

40.  What is your age?

#

Answer

Average Value

Standard Deviation

1

Age

56.15

12.98

 

 

41.   What is your current marital status?

#

Answer

 

 

Response

%

1

Rather not say

 

 

50

5.2%

2

Single

 

 

108

11.1%

3

Married

 

 

618

63.8%

4

Living with another

 

 

45

4.6%

5

Separated

 

 

11

1.1%

6

Divorced

 

 

73

7.5%

7

Widowed

 

 

64

6.6%

 

Total

 

969

100.0%

 


 

42.  What is the national origin of your ancestors?

#

Answer

 

 

%

1

African American/African

 

 

1.5%

2

American

 

 

36.2%

3

Australian

 

 

0.9%

4

Canadian

 

 

26.1%

5

Chinese

 

 

0.0%

6

Dutch

 

 

15.8%

7

English

 

 

71.9%

8

Filipino