Some people eat, sleep and chew gum, I do genealogy and write...

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Genealogy's popularity declining?

There are indicators that the popularity of genealogy is rapidly declining. This would seem contrary to the emphasis placed on the pursuit by both commercial and non-profit genealogical enterprises. You can disagree with my assessment but the statistics compiled by Google Trends show otherwise.

Google Trends plots the frequency of searches on specific topics. Say, you search on the term "genealogy," Google then benchmarks the number of searches on any term based on Web search, Image search, News search or product search. The results are displayed in a graph over time.

Here are a few examples.

This is a search on the term "genealogy."

You can see a definite downward trend for the past eight years. The bench mark in this case was back in 2004. So, you don't believe this? OK, here is a plot for searches on

Down somewhat, but almost no real change over eight years of web searches. What about FamilySearch? Here's the trend:

This one turns out to be roughly the same as a search for the term "genealogy." What about "family history?"

Same downward trend. What about a search on MyHeritage, its rapid growth should show up, shouldn't it?

Yes, the rapid growth shows up, but the trend is still downward.

Why is this the case? What is going on globally with genealogy? Oh, just in case you want to see if there is some reality to these graphs, try searching on the term "hurricane." You will see a jump for each year when there was a major storm in the U.S.

Interesting? Challenging to most current perceptions about genealogy? I think so.


  1. I have not noticed any decrease in those attending my presentations so far, but I did notice a recent down trend in queries for my services. I wish they hadn't cancelled WDYTYA. Bad for business.

  2. I think that the error in the argument is to conclude that a downward trend in searches for the *word* "genealogy" is an indication of a downward trend in *interest* in genealogy. This may simply indicate a shift away from broad web searches for genealogical information toward use of specific websites (such as and FamilySearch) to locate relevant information.

  3. I'm curious if these results include only those searches for "genealogy" or if it includes searches that have genealogy in the search terms (e.g. "Simpson genealogy"). Additionally, these are results from ONE search engine, and doesn't take into account the searches done from within specific websites (Ancestry, FamilySearch, etc.)

    There are so many variables to this scenario that it wouldn't be prudent to put much stock in these results alone.

  4. What about doing graphs for genealogy blogs and podcasts? I subscribe to blogs and podcasts, and describe myself as an intermediate amateur. I started doing genealogy in 1998. I mined the internet genealogy sites for years. I've reached the point now when I occasionally search, but need to concentrate on making all the research functional and format it in a way it can be of use to descendents. So much emphasis is put on online trees, and so many of them are poorly researched-and then take on a life of their own. Websites seem to be marketing trees, not sound research practices that would help intermediate researchers. WDYTYA brings in new researchers-critical. I think you can find some of the missing searchers looking to the genealogical community to advance their skills thru blogs and podcasts. Sorry for the long post.

  5. I suspect that the people leaving genealogy are those that find it too hard. They have been used to instant gratification and when they can't find gt gt grandma quickly they're discouraged and quit.

  6. Very interesting I must say. I'm wondering if people are not using the word genealogy when searching as much since they have learned other ways to search, and on specific websites -? Strange.

  7. People have learned how to search. The word genealogy do not give the result you want. I search on names, places and number range.

  8. Most family hunters believe that is the only answer and those using this service (all of us) are getting bored with this what they think is a computer game. The true genealogist knows that the information he wants comes from the living cousins. They have the treasures handed down. Today 2016 these cousins we used to speak with are dead and their children are not interested. They never heard their father say "I loved my mother". The cousins we want to talk with wont answer their phone because of paranoia. Those under the age of 55 cant comprehend that a unknown cousin would like to talk with him for genealogy reasons. That person under 55, who was taught nothing by his parents is a product of divorce and thinks of himself as having half a family. He cant relate to genealogy. On those that began a tree to be seen by all are now tired of the game. They are unaware that real genealogy is done via speaking with the living cousins. With that, they dont want to call anyone for genealogy. Not only are they paranoid of the stranger on the phone, but also they are paranoid to call a known living cousin. Call it the fear of rejection. Thus, ancestry wont answer their questions and the living wont talk. Genealogy is over since say 1990 range. It is now 2016 and genealogy, the 100 year hobby, is over. And, will never return. Paranoia, what they call identify theft and more divorce. Even obits purposely miss-leading listing false relations etc. Worn and stolen tombstones. Nearly all states holding back information. Divorce records not available. is loaded with errors that are being repeated. Millions of errors. Genealogy bank has very few obits and the chances of finding an obit from 1900 to 1950 is under one percent. Family portraits are gone. Family bibles are gone. nearly nothing remains. Even the 70 attendance family reunions are nearly unheard of. People on will not answer a msg from another member. They even fear signing the msg with nothing more than first name never explaining relationship and fear giving out email addresses. Pleased to receive without a thank you and never do they give. Is genealogy declining?. You bet it is. Its in the dumps. The grandparents are dead. The living paranoid and divorced. A recent survey 13 yr old class of 40. What is the name of your grandmother?. 40 percent answered gramma. Not one said "which one". Nothing is being handed down. The Harvard grad has never seen his grandfathers tombstone. The reason is because he never asked where it is. Have a good one. Anon.