Nearly 1,400 individuals responded to a study of genealogists and family historians as a sociology professor undertook a survey of the membership of the Ontario (Canada) Genealogy Society.
Although Professor Ronald D. Lambert - of the University of Waterloo - undertook this study in 1994, its results, I believe, are just as relevant today as they were then.
In addition to questions on age, sex, national origins, marital status, employment, income, religious affiliation and other details, he asked two questions about researchers’ reasons for doing genealogy and what value they found in that pursuit.
One question sought to rank 25 reasons we pursue genealogy. Respondents marked the statements as important, fairly important or personally irrelevant.
The three reasons considered most important by respondents:
Creepy crawly? That's my name for old-style research.
The kind that involves digging through musty, dusty archives filled with cabinets and shelves stuffed with papers, files, ledgers, registers and books. We never know what might be found – or what might find us – during those excursions.
This is what the University of Leyden's library looked like, c1610. Many old archives and libraries in out of the way places look much the same.
So much information is available online today – and more appears daily - that many newcomers are unaware of what research used to be like . Many of us continue to access information the old-fashioned way!
Newcomers also need to remember that not everything is online yet, and a good portion may never be. Thus, all researchers need to know where to find original documents and records. These may range from making a personal visit to a remote courthouse to obtain a 250-page probate file - with valuable family information - to viewing old property records that may never be digitized.
When I began my research, I began with phone calls to and interviews with many people. I needed that basic information (names, dates and stories) to be able to learn more about those individuals.
As many genealogists say, genealogy is the framework upon which family history is built. Think of genealogy as the construction framework, and family history as what we add to that framework. Without genealogy and its focus on names and dates, one could not pursue family history with any accuracy.
We all have various ways of organising our time when it comes family history research. Whether you're an amateur, or indeed a professional genealogist, it's often easy to be consumed by one or two 'branches' of your family story.
The aim of this week's poll is to discover just how engrossed we are in our research on a weekly basis. Let the voting commence...
Earlier this month we ran a story about the Top 10 surnames on Twitter.
What I forgot to mention in that story was that it was a blog post I’d read not long ago about Australian Twitter user (first) names that got me first thinking of Twitter as a tool for family research.
In that blog post the team from Tribalytic compared the frequency of twitter user first names (from the 220,000-odd accounts they track) to the most popular baby names in Australia over various decades
Wired magazine posted an article a couple of days ago stating that “the kangaroo’s twisted marsupial family tree is now in order thanks to jumping genes”.
Now by jumping genes we don’t mean the genes that help make the kangaroo jump.
Rather, jumping genes are genes that reproduce then insert themselves into the chromosomes at new locations. As a result, these jumping genes create mutations in the DNA that can then go on to create new branches of family trees.