Dick Eastman who has been publishing Eastman’s Online Genealogy Newsletter (www.eogn.com) since 1996, today had a story in which he provided the results of a survey he conducted with over 2,000 newsletter readers. I checked the results, frankly more out of curiosity, to see where I landed. Well, it turns out I’m rather average – an outcome that sometimes can be considered as a bit of let down but in this case I think provides some rather interesting insights into the broader genealogical community.
When it comes to experience, 40.6 percent of respondents said they had more than 20 years with a further 31.5 percent indicating they had between 10 – 20 years of experience. I have about 30 years of family history experience, so pretty average.
When it comes to experience with technology, 55.6 percent said they were advanced to expert with the majority using a cable or DSL Internet connection for their computers operating on a Windows XP platform. 84.5 percent said that Ancestry.com was their top website – just like me. Most have attended a conference and/or seminar and considered it a worthwhile experience. For social networking, something I’ve commented on a few times, 61 percent use Facebook and 23 percent use GenealogyWise – again like me.
It seems the only noteworthy area in which I veer away from average is the software I currently use. Family Tree Maker is the most commonly used, followed in order by Legacy, The Master Genealogist, and RootsMagic. I have written before that I have switched to using RootsMagic because I really like the ease of citing sources of my information and love the RootsMagic To Go feature that allows me to carry a full version of the software and all of my records and photos on a USB drive (also referred to as a flash drive, memory stick, etc.). As much as this might seem to place me in a minority ‘position,’ I must confess that I have current versions of both Family Tree Maker and Legacy on my computer – so I suppose its back to average for me.
The interesting point in all of this for me is the observation that as a whole, it appears family historians are a technologically savvy group. Despite having started their craft in an age when personal computing was extremely limited, they have embraced the technological resources of this millennium maybe because we know that’s the way to find the records and information that we have been trying to track down over all those years.