With retail-minded timing, on December 7 Ancestry.com (the Microsoft of online genealogy) released a marketing research study done for them in February. Neither the methodology nor the margins of error appear to be disclosed, so it's as dubious as a family history without footnotes. Still, some of the results are curious enough to nod to:
* Anyone who's spent time on the third floor of the Newberry knows that the age structure of active family history researchers skews way old, but supposedly among the general public, interest in knowing more about family history actually drops from 83 percent among 18-to-34-year-olds to 73 percent among the 55+ crowd.
* If you know the name of more than one of your eight great-grandparents, you're in the minority -- so all ages have a good deal to learn.
* New England, not the South, is the heartland of genealogy. (This difference is credible only because it squares with the publishing history in the two regions; the small differences reported could easily be wiped out by small sample size.) "Southerners know the least about their roots. Only 38 percent know both of their grandmothers’ maiden names, compared with 50 percent of Northeasterners. Also, only 47 percent of Southerners know what both of their grandfathers do or did for a living, while 55 percent of Northeasterners know both grandfathers’ occupations."