Saturday, August 27, 2016

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun: Survey of Genealogy Activities

This week's challenge for Saturday Night Genealogy Fun sounds similar to the one Randy Seaver posted on May 21 of this year, but this time he has given specific questions and made the exercise less open-ended, which actually makes it easier in a lot of ways.  But it's a lot longer!

Here is your assignment if you choose to play along (cue the Mission:  Impossible music, please!):

Answer these questions in my survey about your genealogy resources and usage:

a)  Which genealogy software programs for your computer do you use (e.g., Family Tree Maker, Reunion, GRAMPS, etc.)?

b)  Which online family trees have information submitted by you, in either a separate online tree (e.g., Ancestry Member Tree) or a universal (collaborative) online tree (e.g., WikiTree)?

c)  For which subscription genealogy record providers (e.g., Ancestry) do you have a subscription?

d)  Which FREE genealogy record providers (e.g., FamilySearch) do you use regularly?

e)  How much time do you spend each week doing actual genealogy research online?  [Note:  not reading, or social networking, but actual searching in a record provider.]  Estimate an average number of hours per week.

f)  How much time do you spend each week doing actual genealogy research in a repository (e.g., library, archive, courthouse, etc.)?  Estimate an average number of hours per month over, say, a one-year period.

g)  How much time do you spend each week adding information to your genealogy software program (either on your computer or online)?  Estimate an average number of hours per week over, say, a one-month period.

h)  How much time do you spend each month at a genealogical society meeting, program, or event (not a seminar or conference)?  Estimate an average number of hours per month over, say, a one-year period.

i)  How much time do you spend each month on genealogy education (e.g., reading books and periodicals, attending seminars, conferences, workshops, Webinars, etc.)?   Estimate an average number of hours per month over, say, a one-year period.

j)  How much time do you spend each week reading, writing, and commenting on genealogy blogs, Web sites, and social media?   Estimate an average number of hours per week over, say, a one-month period.

2)    Answer the questions in a blog post of your own (and please drop a link as a comment in this post), in a comment to this post, or in a Google+ or Facebook post.

Here's my breakdown:

(a) The only genealogy software program I use regularly for my own family tree information is Family Tree Maker, v. 16.  I also have:

Reunion 9
Mac Family Tree
Legacy Family Tree
Personal Ancestry Writer
Roots Magic
• and I think one or two more

I keep the other programs handy to be able to open other people's files if necessary.

(b) I have submitted no information to any online family tree anywhere.  I have a page with the names I am researching on my own Web site.  I have also discovered that a distant relative of my brother-in-law has entered my mother's information on

(c) I have a paid subscription to, because it's the only way I have found to have access to the British newspaper collection.  I still think the interface sucks.

(d) My definition of a free genealogy record provider includes those databases I can use for free at my local Family History Center (technically, FamilySearch Library), in Oakland, California.  These are the sites I use regularly.

• Chronicling America
• (another site with great material but an awful interface)
• FindAGrave
• USGenWeb
• FreeBMD
• RootsWeb
• Google
• Wikipedia
• Newspaper Archive
• 19th Century British Newspapers
• ProQuest Obituaries
• GenealogyBank
• VitalSearch

(e) Online genealogy research each week averages about 15 hours.

(f) Repository research each averages about 3 hours.

(g) I don't spend a lot of time adding information to my own family tree program.  It's probably only about 2–3 hours each week.

(h) Genealogy society meetings and events run about 15 hours every month.

(i) Genealogy education takes about 15 hours of my times every month, once I take into account conferences and seminars.

(j) Reading, writing, and commenting on genealogy blogs, sites, and social media runs about 20 hours each week.

Yikes!  My weekly total is about 70 hours each week that are devoted to genealogy.   That sounds about right, but I hadn't realized it was so high.  This year is probably running a little higher than average due to the number of conferences and seminars on my schedule (SLIG, San Francisco History Days, Sacramento African American Family History Seminar, CSGA [twice!], Jamboree, Ancestry Day, Civil War Teachers Institute, IAJGS, IBGS, and the Contra Costa County Genealogical Society's John Colletta seminar).  And this total didn't even include volunteer work!


  1. I'm glad I'm not the only person who does not maintain an online tree. Back when Rootsweb became a thing, I did keep a family tree there, but I felt like too many people were taking information, combining it with erroneous information on their sites or in their own trees, etc. Of course, I'm always happy to help people if they find a connection via my blog, but I feel more comfortable not having my entire tree out there. :)

    1. I have found that putting my family names online suffices for other people researching my family to find me, and we share information then. I also have names listed at FTDNA and Ancestry. I particularly don't plan to ever have a tree on Ancestry; as far as I know, the Terms of Service still give it a worldwide, nonexclusive right to reuse any information uploaded to the site.

  2. I find it amazing that you spend so much time in monthly meetings. I must be missing out not to attend any! I enjoyed reading your post.

    1. I'm lucky in that there are several societies that meet in my area, and most of them do not charge for nonmembers to attend. I try to take advantage of every learning opportunity available!

  3. We hang out on some of the same sites, it appears. I absolutely LOVE and, in many ways, it has been more effective for me than Ancestry and it is much cheaper. :) I have the US only subscription for Ancestry right now. I have used FamilySearch, US GenWeb, Rootsweb, and practically live on Find-a-Grave. I was very happy to find out about yesterday via a newsletter that I receive. The interface is a bit confusing for me after experiencing, but still there are interesting things to find in those old New York newspapers, like finding out that one of David's 3rd great-grandpas was battling pneumonia.

    GenealogyBank was a big disappointment for me. I never found anything through their site. That was a few years ago, so maybe they've improved since then and I should give it a try again.

    What is free BMD?

    Have a blessed day. :)

    1. The huge negative thing about is its interface. One of the better ways to use the site is to search for your names/terms on Google and restrict the search to "". But if you have a problem using the site directly, send a message to Tom Tryinski, whose contact information is there somewhere. He is reliable about answering.

      How useful a site is for your research will depend entirely on whether the records it has are in the areas and times you need. That may have been the case for you with GenealogyBank. Check it (and similarly for other sites) on a regular basis to see if it now has newspapers in the areas you are researching.

      FreeBMD ( is a site with transcribed indices for births, marriages, and deaths for the United Kingdom. If you're not doing British research, it won't do you any good.

    2. Thank you for the Google search suggestion, Janice. I will try that.

      Thank you also for the FreeBMD information. While I can't work on our British family members at this point on Ancestry, I do have plenty of British ancestry to research. Both David and I are at least 40% British according to Ancestry DNA, so maybe this site will prove useful for me.

      Thank you for all of the information that you have provided. Have a blessed day. :)

    3. At this point I believe the British BMD registers are searchable on Ancestry also, but probably only for the world subscription. But FreeBMD is just that, free! Good luck with your search.


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