There are lots of blogs out there to help you learn how to do family history research. This blog lets you watch our progress as we roll the Canadian Genealogy Survey out across the country. We'll also track developments in research on family history. It's a bit of a twist, but we hope you'll find something of interest. We welcome your comments.

If you haven't taken the survey yet, you can find it at:

Saturday, 26 November 2011



A bit of publicity associated with taking down the survey produced remarkable results. We are approaching about 2400 completed surveys. That is an astounding figure, particularly with such an extensive a series of questions. We now feel we have a reasonable sample of the Canadian genealogical community. A quick survey seems to point to distribution from across the country, with a healthy number of people from outside the country who are interested in Canadian lines.
What surprised and delighted us was the surge of completions accompanying the final push. There have been a few hundred completions in the closing days of the survey. I suppose it has something to say about the power of procrastination, but we want to thank everyone for taking the trouble to complete the survey.
A special vote of thanks to our blogging friends for so many kind boosts along the way, but particcularly this past week or so. They posted or reposted announcements urging their readers to complete the survey. John Reid, Dick Eastman, Elizabeth Lapoint and Lorine at Olivetree, along with others, have all been kind. The results have been astounding; over a thousand visits to the blog this week; and it looks like over two hundred new complete surveys as a result of that boost.
So thanks again; and we look forward to sharing the results soon. It will take a couple of weeks to "Clean" the data and prepare a statistical file, but we will be posting findings soon after that.

Thursday, 17 November 2011


The MyHeritage blog, which deals with all aspects of genealogy from an international perspective, recently posted about Ron Lambert's 1990s survey of Ontario Genealogy Society members The posting refers to his analysis of respondents motivation for undertaking genealogical work. He had initially posted four soundings of his survey in Families in the mid 1990s and went on to write four sociological framed articles dealing with the results of that survey and some other work he did with genealogists; all of it listed in our bibliography.
The reasons he gave for undertaking genealogy are still relevant today:
People may develop an interest in family history broadly speaking at one of two periods in their lives. As young people, their curiosity may be piqued by family members who seem especially knowledgeable about the family's past and whose story telling intrigues and excites them. Or, as mature adults, people may find that genealogy offers intellectual perspective and emotional support in dealing with birth, death and life's other challenges.
Along with this came a variety of unrelated events external to anyone's direct experience. In the Canadian case, several respondents referred to the Centennial of Confederation in 1967 as a seminal moment that encouraged various initiatives in community history that led seamlessly to an interest in family.
Our survey asked a lot of the same questions as Lambert's and answers to this one are not unsimilar in orientation. He explores the role played in the lives of many genealogists of older relatives who shared family stories when they were younger. In many cases the actual words used in describing the beginnings of genealogical interest were vitrually identical. We will be posting some of our results in that area soon.....

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Survey Closing Date November 30th

This is a quick reminder that on Wednesday, November 30th the Canadian Genealogy Survey will finally close. After this date, it will no longer be accessible. If anyone you know still has not had a chance to fill out the survey but is interested in doing so, please pass along this message to them. A link to the survey is found on the homepage of this blog.

We would like to thank all those who have taken the time to fill out the survey. We are eagerly anticipating the results and cannot wait share them with you.

Friday, 4 November 2011


We are enormously pleased and thankful for all those who have taken the trouble to complete the survey. We were convinced from the beginning that genealogists and family historians would be both interested and anxious to share their experiences with us. We are presently making plans to close off the survey toward the end of November, so if there is anyone reading this blog who has not completed it or who knows of someone who should but has not, please feel free to do it in the next few weeks.

We will not be able to do a complete analysis of the results until the survey is completed and the survey is closed, at which point the results will be coded for analysis with a statistical package. But we have been able to access answers to a number of the qualitative or “open-ended” questions and will begin sharing some of our first impressions in the hope that we might stimulate some

Thursday, 3 November 2011


The first question in our survey invited people to discus why they had started to do genealogical research in the first place. We are still a long way from dealing with all the responses to this question, which also had a followup asking about why people continue to do so.

But we are able to access a few of the text files from the survey. Responses were quite varied; but there were some clear trends. I have pasted a few of the more typical responses below to give a sense of the range of answers: One really simple and quite common one was a single word “curiosity”; but a number of others were more extended about the source of their inspiration.

“I was planning a trip to Scotland and wanted to learn more about my family history before I went, to make the trip more meaningful."

"Mother was approaching 90 yrs. old and she had a briefcase full of data. When she was in her declining years, she talked a lot about her family. It stirred my interest. I inherited the briefcase when she died at 93 yrs. of age. Our roots are very exciting; I now have a passion (addiction) to researching our families.”

“I started after listening to stories from my grandparents about their life, what it was like when they were growing up, how they met, etc. However, I married, had children and 'life' got in the way of doing much research. I, regretfully, lost the opportunity to get oral histories and stories before my grandparents and parents died. I have always enjoyed puzzles and find genealogy like one big puzzle; always such a great feeling when finding another 'piece' of the family tree.”

So... at least a couple of the responses can be categorized as inheritance of a legacy of involvement, and the contextualization of family stories that had been handed down. And sometimes it is just serendipity associated with a particular occasion or event.

Any thoughts......