Archive for the ‘Online Genealogy’ Category

Results of Twitter and Genealogy survey

 Those of my readers who also follow me on Twitter ( @michaelhait ) may have participated in the following survey.  For those that are unaware, last weekend I created an online survey using to see how people have used Twitter to further their genealogical activities.  I promised to post the results, so here they are, with my analysis added.  In total, 76 Twitter users responded.

Please feel free to view these results and make your own assessments.  However, please do not publish this information without credit.  This survey was taken as part of research into an article that I am working on for a major genealogy magazine.  If you would like to publish this information, please email me with the details as to how you want to use it, to .

1-1.      For which of the following genealogy-related activities have you used Twitter?

Answered question:  76           Skipped question: 0

Discovering new and interesting Genealogy-related blogs or websites:    68 (89.5%)

Connecting with professional genealogists:                                             33 (43.4%)

Promoting your Genealogy-related blog:                                                29 (38.2%)

Advertising your surnames of interest:                                                    28 (36.8%)

Seeking advice in genealogy methodology or records:                            18 (23.7%)

Advertising your brickwalls:                                                                   10 (13.2%)

Connecting with distant relatives:                                                              9 (11.8%)

Other:                                                                                                    16 (21.1%)

Summary of “Other” responses:

  • Promotion: 5
  • Resources/articles: 4
  • Networking with other genealogists: 3
  • Inspiration: 1

2-1.      How successful have you been in these endeavors? (1 being low rate of success; 5 being high rate of success)

Answered question:  63           Skipped question: 13








Rating Avg

Response Count

Connecting with distant relatives








(55-32) 23

Advertising your brickwalls








(53-33) 20

Advertising your surnames of interest








(55-23) 32

Seeking advice in genealogy methodology or records








(54-24) 30

Promoting your Genealogy-related blog








(54-22) 32

Discovering new and interesting Genealogy-related blogs or websites








(61-2) 59

Connecting with professional genealogists








(56-21) 35


2-2.      Do you have any specific success story that you would like to share?

Answered question:  17           Skipped question:  59

  • “Found a distant cousin”
  • “I’ve gathered several ideas for my own genealogy & gotten quite a few ideas for articles! Great! I’ve also decided to start advertising my brick walls, and surnames. Unfortunately, my brick walls involve JONES & SMITH! I plan to begin a genealogy blog soon, and will certainly advertise it at Twitter when I do!!”
  • “I was Twittering during the NERGC and was able to meet a couple other Twitterers who were also at the conference, including Megan Smolenyak Smolenyak. And Dick Eastman, but that was more do with with me sitting in the APG booth at the time…”
  • “Not yet, but I could be coaxed in a month or so. [The success story is still developing.]“
  • “Nothing in particular, but my blog following has really increased and I have a lot of valuable and useful comments that i did not get before I started to Tweet. I have also found some neat blogs to follow that I did not know about before.”
  • “I haven’t really been able to get much help through Twiter, but I am hoping that by promoting my blog, that it may help later on.”
  • “Tweated about my brickwalls and surnames but no one responded. Did find some interesting people to follow.” 

3-1.      How often do you use Twitter?

Answered question:  61           Skipped question:  15

One (1) hour daily                                                                               20 (32.8%)

Three (3) hours daily                                                                           15 (24.6%)

Less than one (1) hour daily                                                                 15 (24.6%)

Over six (6) hours daily                                                                         7 (11.5%)

Every other day                                                                                     4 (6.6%)


3-2.      Do you use a stand-alone Twitter reader (i.e. TweetDeck)?  Please identify.

Answered question:  40           Skipped question:  36

  • TweetDeck:  22
  • Twhirl:  4
  • Seesmic Desktop:  2
  • Tweetie:  2
  • Twitter Gadget:  2
  • DestroyTwitter:  1
  • Eventbox:  1
  • Nambu:  1
  • PeopleBrowsr:  1
  • TwitterFox:  1

3-3.      Do you use Twitter on your mobile phone?

Answered question:  62           Skipped question:  14

Yes                              12 (19.4%)                  No                               50 (80.6%)


3-4.      Do you use any of the following add-on Twitter applications?

Answered question:  45           Skipped question:  31

Twitter Groups                                                                                     25 (55.6%)

WeFollow                                                                                            25 (55.6%)

Mr. Tweet                                                                                            11 (24.4%)

TweetStats                                                                                             2 (4.4%)

TwitterCounter                                                                                       1 (2.2%)

GeoFollow                                                                                             1 (2.2%)

TweetBurner                                                                                          1 (2.2%)

Other:                                                                                                    9 (20%)

  • Twibes: 2
  • TweetLater: 2
  • Qwitter: 1
  • Twine: 1
  • Magpie: 1

Great Resource: University of Virginia Library Historical Census Browser

This database has been up for a few years, but I think that it deserves another mention.

The University of Virginia Library has compiled the population and other statistics for all of the federal censuses from 1790-1960.  You can select which statistics to view and compare, and view all 50 states or by county within states.  These databases are statistical only, and contain no information on specific households.

But this statistical information is nearly as important as the actual census returns themselves, for it provides context.  As much time as we spend investigating our ancestors, we must also remember that they did not live in a Family Group Record world.  They were members of a community, and the demographic information contained in this database will tell you about that community.

Some of the information is particularly useful for genealogists, if you compare your family to the statistics for the county in which they lived.  Information on the population by size of household, gender, age, and race, information on the ownership and size of farms, occupations, religion, etc., are all available for searching.

Happy New Year! New Resources and Tools!

One of my New Year’s Resolutions is to try to post blog entries a little more often.  So here goes – the first entry of the year!
First, I wanted to mention two websites:  Albany Hilltowns ( and Andersonville Civil War Prison (
The first is a new wiki for those with ancestors who lived in the Albany Co., New York "hilltowns", i.e. Berne, Knox, Rensselaerville, and Westerlo.  In addition to adding my Posson ancestors to the site, I am also involved in some of the groups other related projects.  The website already has quite a bit of information posted.  The corresponding Facebook group has over 80 members already, and seems to be growing.
The second site is run by my cousin Kevin Frye.  For those who do not know, Andersonville Prison was a particularly infamous and brutal Confederate prison during the Civil War in Georgia.  Many Union soldiers died of disease, abuse, and starvation while imprisoned there.  Kevin does periodic tours and reenactments, and offers free lookups in the existing prison records and cemetery.  He will also take digital photos of headstones for a nominal fee.
Secondly, I wanted to mention two tools that I have fallen in love with:  iGoogle and Diigo.
For those who still use the basic Google homepage, I would recommend giving iGoogle a try.  You will have to register with Google, but can use an external email address for this (I use my hotmail address).  In addition to the familiar Google searchbox, you can fill this page with "gadgets".  Personally, I use a Google Finance tool to check my portfolio, a "To-Do" list gadget that allows you to set tasks and assign them levels of importance and even deadlines, and I have RSS feeds from about 20 or so genealogy and writing blogs.  iGoogle can display the last 3 posts from the feed.  I also use a Wikipedia search box, a GoogleMaps search box, a local weather gadget, a Google Knols gadget, etc.  Depending on how fast your computer is, it may take a little time to completely load if you have too many gadgets (like I do).  But I am not concerned about the speed.  I just love that so much of what I need can be put on one page.  All in all, a great tool, and one that has been added to my "home tabs" in IE.
Diigo is a "social bookmarking" site.  In other words, it’s sort of a "MySpace" of people’s collections of bookmarks.  You can bookmark your sites on a central website, and search other people’s links as well, for sites similar to yours.  You can see who else has bookmarked the same sites, and look at their other interests.  There are "groups" where members all upload links on a certain topic.  But better than this, you can highlight text directly on web pages, and view the highlighted portions from your Diigo dashboard.  I am still learning all of the features of the site, but I thought everyone ought to take a look.  The best part is that registration/membership is free.
Finally, to anyone interested, my latest article, on slavery-related records for African-American genealogy research, will appear in the Jan/Feb issue of Family Chronicle, available at Borders and other large chainstores or from


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