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

Monday, December 7, 2015

Searching for the Family History Library

From time to time, I review the Google Trends website. Watching what people are looking for online in an interesting window into the current culture and interests around the world. In this case, because I have been visiting the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah more recently, I decided to take a look at using the Family History Library as a search term. The graph shows that interest has basically fallen to zero as of the first part of December, 2015. This piqued my interest even more, so I started to compare it to other topics.

When I added in Family History Center, I was even more interested. What is even more surprising is adding in the general topic of family history.

When compared to the general term, both the Library and Family History Centers virtually disappear as search topics. But all have a decided downward trend. How about RootsTech as a search term?

The RootsTech search shows seasonal spikes. When I overlay a search for the Family History Library over RootsTech, I get the following:

Some searches are seasonal. I decided to compare "gardening" and "hiking" as two activities that could be classified as hobbies to "genealogy."

Both gardening and genealogy show a downward trend. In addition, both gardening and hiking show a periodic pattern based on seasons. Hiking has stayed about the same over time. I speculate that the number of people interested in both genealogy and gardening have remained about the same over time. Of course, if the same people are online, then they would have no need to do searches for genealogy or gardening because they would likely know about the websites they liked and had bookmarks or links to those sites.

How do they all compare to a current hot topic, such as "Star Wars?"

I guess the best thing that can be said is that media hype affects searching. Genealogy is not a topic that generates much media hype. Many websites list "Reading" as the most popular hobby. Here is a comparison of the search term "Reading" with "Genealogy."

I am guessing that genealogists are very predictable in their searches and that they seldom search for the term genealogy. How about adding the most popular, large online websites?

You could argue that any one of these topics only decrease in popularity because the overall usage of the Web increases and there is no real drop in interest. But the reality is that these searches are measured against their own historic interest. It looks like to me despite any increases in participation or activity on the big websites, genealogy is not fairing well in the battle for online shelf space. I have been repeating these searches for some time now and the trends continue downward for genealogy related search terms.

Is this a problem? Only if you are concerned about increasing world participation in genealogy.


  1. The question would be - is that really reflective of genealogy participation? Or is the real truth that the branding behind Familysearch has made the success of their website more prominent than the FHL in Salt Lake?

    I don't know anyone who searches for the FHL directly. Everyone goes to FamilySearch's website first, then clicks on the link to the library. Therefore, that would skew the Google Trends because their data isn't captured.

    1. Yes, the data could reflect a change in the way searches are made, but why don'e other subject show the same decline?