Recent Family History survey results, part two

I started reviewing the recent family history survey conducted by Myles Proudfoot in an earlier post. This post continues the comparison of results among respondents identifying themselves as amateur genealogists vs. those identifying themselves as professional genealogists.

Question 9 in the survey asked, “How often do you do family history research?” The difference in results is not surprising for this question. Amateur genealogists most frequently responded daily (27.1%), but only by a slim margin over two of the other responses: 4-6 times a week (22.1%), and 2-3 times a week (21.2%). Even for amateur genealogists, genealogy research is apprently extremely addictive, with 70% of all respondents conducting research more than once a week!

Professional genealogists conduct research even more often than amateurs, which should be expected of professionals in any field. An overwhelming 73.5% of all professional genealogists reported that they research daily, followed by 15.9% that responded 4-6 times a week. This amounts to just under 90% of all professional respondents.

Questions 10 and 11 are related, and show the responses show similarities between the amateur respondents and professional genealogists. However, the results are enlightening for anyone interested in genealogy research:

Question 10 asked, “Where do you PRIMARILY keep your family tree information?” This question allowed multiple answers, so it will not total exactly 100%. The choices were:

  • In an online tree: 16.1% of Amateurs, 6.2% of Professionals
  • On my computer: 73.5% of Amateurs, 84.1% of Professionals
  • On paper: 10.1% of Amateurs, 9.7% of Professionals
  • In my head: 0.2% of Amateurs, 0.0% of Professionals
  • Nowhere/I don’t have a tree: 0.2% of Amateurs. 0.0% of Professionals

It cannot be determined, given the disparity between the size of the samples, whether the roughly 10% differences in the first two options are significant. However, these responses indicate that a larger proportion of amateur genealogists keep their data in an online family tree, while a larger proportion of professional genealogists keep their data primarily on their computer.

Question 11 continues along the same theme: “Thinking further about record keeping, how do you keep notes to track your research and findings?” Again, this question allowed more than one response from each respondent:

  • “I enter them into my smart phone/tablet”: 3.6% of Amateurs, 8.0% of Professionals
  • “I use a digital camera to capture the images”: 19.8% of Amateurs, 34.5% of Professionals
  • “I keep them online”: 24.4% of Amateurs, 25.7% of Professionals
  • “I type them into my computer”: 68.4% of Amateurs, 82.3% of Professionals
  • “I type them onto paper”: 4.8% of Amateurs, 6.2% of Professionals
  • “I use pre-formatted paper templates”: 10.7% of Amateurs, 15.0% of Professionals
  • “I write them freehand in a notebook”: 36.0% of Amateurs, 37.2% of Professionals
  • “I don’t keep a record of findings or clues”: 2.6% of Amateurs, 0.0% of Professionals

There are no significant differences in the responses for most of these options. The highest difference is among those respondents who selected “I use a digital camera to capture the images.” While slightly less than 20% of amateur genealogists use a digital camera to photograph records of interest, over 35% of professional genealogists practice this method. This probably comes as a result of the strong emphasis that professional genealogists place on reviewing original records (as opposed to derivative sources).

The smaller difference between the amateurs and the professionals who reported that they “type them into [their] computer[s],” probably reflects the larger percentage of professionals who reported in Question 10 that they primarily keep their genealogy information in their computers.

More of the results from Mr. Proudfoot’s survey will be analyzed in future posts.

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