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

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Who are the genealogists?

Last evening we had an hour and half long online chat with the Bloggers for RootsTech 2012. With such a tremendously broad field of interests, I began to think about communicating with such a diverse group even though we all apparently share a common interest. As I thought some more on the subject, I began to wonder exactly who are all of these genealogists and do they really have anything in common. I have had a couple of posts and there have been others, discussing the so-called "community." Can you be a member of a community when you don't even know that the community exists? Can you be a member of a community that has no real definition?

What describes the stereotypical genealogist? A 60 year old+ woman who is the repository of family stories and history? A college educated professional with advanced degrees who writes for genealogical journals? I was in my 30s when I first began slogging away at building a family tree. Are we old just because we have been doing genealogy for a long time? If you look at the demographics of my blog readers from Alexa, just for an example,  relative to the general Internet population, I am far less popular in the 25 year old to 45 year old age group and much more popular in the over 55 years old group of Internet users. Not much of a surprise. Again in the general Internet population, I am much more popular with those who have some graduate school education, slightly more popular among males than females, less popular with users that have children, more popular at work and less popular at home, very much more popular with high income groups, especially those make more than $100,000 a year, and Genealogy's Star is heavily into white Caucasians.

Comparing the demographics of Genealogy's Star to is interesting. I am more popular than FamilySearch among African Americans, Asians, Hispanics, and MiddleEastern populations. I am a whole lot more popular with those who attended graduate school, my readership is predominantly male, while seems to be dominantly female. Genealogy's Star has the same popularity with for families with or without children, but is used predominantly at home while my readership is at work. 

Another interesting comparison is Genealogy's Star to Here are the results:
  • Age:  About the same
  • Education: Genealogy's Star still shines much higher in the graduate school crowd. and have about the same educational level audience.
  • Gender: I have a male readership, both and are predominantly female.
  • Children: has a slightly higher percentage of subscribers with children.
  • Browsing Location: is used in the home, my readers seem to prefer reading me at work.
  • Income: I cater to the high rollers. Neither nor have anything close to the predominance I have among high income readers.
  • Ethnicity: and have the same spread of interests except attracts more African Americans.
I am reminded of a comment by one of the volunteers at the Mesa Regional Family History Center in his upper 60s who was lamenting the fact that he didn't have time left in his life to learn all this stuff. So think about it. Even though the bloggers on the Internet last night were mostly older as opposed to 20s and 30s, don't we have to realize that experience in genealogy takes time and effort and no one can be expected to have that level of experience unless they started quite young? How long does it take to become competent in genealogy?

On the other hand, how may genealogists are bloggers? I don't mean how many bloggers are there, but overall what percentage of genealogists are online sharing family stories, lineages, support, technology and news? Do all of the people who have subscriptions to qualify as "genealogists?"

OK, with all this, am I any closer to defining the genealogists? Yeah, here are the conclusions:
  • Age: Definitely over 45 years of age.
  • Education: Definitely higher education. Even though Genealogy's Star's demographics were decidedly to the graduate school level, both and have markedly more upper education viewers.
  • Gender: No conclusion. But I suspect a lot more women than men, just by observation.
  • Has Children: Having children seems to be a disincentive to doing genealogy.
  • Browsing location: Really doesn't tell us much.
  • Income: Genealogists have a higher to much higher income than the average.
  • Ethnicity: Again, not much here that helps define genealogists.
Of course, if you are a 14 year old in high school reading this Blog, you may disagree.


  1. 26 year old male, active in evidence-based genealogy and family history since age 19. I read every post. I know that I have an advantage of years in research time, but what can I do at my age to make the most of my research time?

  2. I'm your typical Genealogy's Star Genealogist :-)

  3. My daughter used to say, "Are you going to the retired teacher's and librarian's meeting tonight?" I think that pretty well describes it, too.

  4. Sounds pretty accurate to me, although I am a 35yo female (with two small children) and have been researching for about ten years now. Demographics definitely skew older, as I'm a spring chicken at most meetings and events I go to. As far as $$, well... genealogy definitely isn't a cheap hobby, whatever people have to say about accessing things from the library, etc. And I think the broad learning requirements and emphasis on deductive and inductive reasoning appeals to the sorts of people who pursue higher education. It's certainly one of the most intellectually satisfying hobbies, I think.