09 December 2014

Ancestry Global Family History Report

On Monday Ancestry.com posted the first part of a multi-chapter study aiming to show "how knowledge of the past has impacted the present, and how a greater sense of ‘connectivity’ has changed the concept of the modern family within the six countries in which we conducted the study."
The countries are Australia, Canada, Germany, Sweden, UK, USA, all countries in which Ancestry is active.
As I commented in a post on Canadians and Their Pasts last week I put more trust in relative than absolute values in survey data so it was the differences in the reliance on different type of resources used by active family historians in the six countries that caught my attention. They are shown in a table on page 10 of the report at http://blogs.ancestry.com/ancestry/2014/12/08/ancestry-global-family-history-report/.
Canada is the closest to the six-county average use in all resources except old letters which are not as widely used. Canada's Commonwealth twin Australia makes significantly more use of military records and passenger lists than the average. Given that Australia has very few census records I was surprised to see equal use in Australia and Canada, perhaps reflecting the use of UK census data. Also surprising was that the Australia's TROVE database did not show in enhanced use of old newspapers.
The UK had the greatest use of censuses and occupational records and greater than average use of BMDs.
In the USA, where BMD use was the greatest, genealogists also make greater use of military records, old newspapers, passenger lists and court records.
One trend the report sees is what they term "verticalisation" of the extended family. With people living longer and parents choosing to have fewer children there are more grandparents and great grandparents living and fewer aunts, uncles and cousins.
A question to ponder is why Ancestry would want to publish this information? Obviously the company don't doesn't see anything in the data of great strategic advantage for their business or they wouldn't make it openly available.

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