30 March 2012

Genealogy Activity Survey: volunteering and contributing

Between March 19 and 25 responses from 150 people to a survey on genealogy activity were received.

This survey covers a highly selective group of engaged enthusiasts. To put them (us) in perspective, Ancestry claims 1.7 million subscribers; a typical episode of the present US series of Who Do You Think You Are? gets 5.8 million viewers. If an activity does not rate highly with this group, and the activity is aimed at the enthusiast market, it's missing the boat.

There were 133 responses from America (twice as many from Canada as the US), 14 from Europe (13 from the UK), 2 from Australia and 1 from Japan.

Respondents were asked to "indicate the most recent time period in which you've been involved in the following genealogy activities.

                                             Week   Month   Year   Decade  Never
Volunteered with a
genealogy society                   34%      15%      12%     12%     27%

61% of those responding had volunteered during the past year. Societies I know would be delighted, and perhaps even overwhelmed, if that was the organization experience. It could be that people belong to more than one society but restrict their volunteering to one, or, and perhaps more likely, those responding to this survey are more active. In Canada 65% had volunteered during the past year, in the UK 69% and the USA 59%.
                                                            Week   Month   Year   Decade  Never
Done online data entry/abstraction        22%      14%     18%      12%     27%

The percentage that had done such abstraction in the past year, 64%, is about the same as those who volunteered. This was less in the UK (39%), more in the US (67%).  Canada was in between at 52%. This surprised me given the success of the FreeBMD project, but remember the UK sample is small.

Only 55% of those who volunteered with a society had also done abstraction.

                                              Week   Month   Year   Decade  Never
Published a genealogy
oriented book, article or
website                                     10%     13%      15%      12%     49%

Perhaps the most surprising, and to me disappointing, result from the survey is that half of those responding had not placed the results of their research in a publication. In Canada that figure is 60% and in the US 53%. The UK is very significantly better at just 8% not having published.

While data online supplied by commercial interests is widely used they have not been as successful in facilitating publication by those same individuals.

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