We don’t need to tell you that genealogy’s a big deal. But for the sake of backing up the argument, here are some numbers. A poll released by The Generations Network in 2005 said 29 percent have created a family tree—that’s more than 80 million people. Ancestry.com alone has 760,000 subscribers.
Now, about one in six Americans reported having German ancestry in the 2000 US Census—more than 43 million people.
Considering how many US genealogists might be rooting around in the archives of Baden-Wurttemberg and Brandenburg, it seems surprising that only about 30,000 Germans are tracing their family roots, according to German news channel N-TV.
But the lack of fervor in Deutschland has deep-seated roots.
Genealogy was at its most popular in Germany during the Third Reich—it was a way of proving Aryan heritage. Because much of the general population associated the hobby with national socialism, nearly all genealogical organizations were disbanded in 1945, and the hobby still leaves a bad taste in the mouths of many Germans.
With the advent of Internet-driven research (and perhaps with the influence of countries like the United States and United Kingdom, where genealogy is big business), it seems like Ahnenforschung is making a comeback. TV stations are producing genealogy-focused programs like “Die Spur der Ahnen” (“The Trace of the Ancestors”). For those fluent in Deutsch, a German-language blog affiliated with Ancestry.de gives an interesting take on family history.
So now I’m curious—what’s the state of genealogy in other countries? Leave a comment!