10 Biggest Genealogy News Stories in 2007

10 Biggest Genealogy News Stories in 2007

Here are the top genealogy developments of 2007… at least in our humble opinion. Got one to add to (or kick off of) the list? Got an opinion which news is the biggest? Click Comment (below) and get it off your chest.Competition comes backFor a few years there, after...

Here are the top genealogy developments of 2007… at least in our humble opinion. Got one to add to (or kick off of) the list? Got an opinion which news is the biggest? Click Comment (below) and get it off your chest.

Competition comes back
For a few years there, after industry leader MyFamily.com (now The Generations Network) purchased second-place Genealogy.com in 2003, industry competition ebbed and online innovation slowed. Today The Generations Network is still the giant, but the growth of relative newcomers including World Vital Records and Footnote, plus FamilySearch’s records-digitization initiatives, are keeping the genealogy business on its toes.

Records digitization accelerates
In October, the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) announced it was teaming up with FamilySearch to digitize case files of approved pension applications from widows of Civil War Union soldiers. That’s part of an even bigger arrangement that has FamilySearch volunteers stationed at NARA to scan all kinds of records. Footnote also has agreements to digitize NARA records, and FamilySearch has mobilized thousands of volunteers to index scanned records.

Partnerships proliferate
Organizations are joining forces right and left. World Vital Records, which launched in 2006, has built its genealogy database largely through partnership agreements. That site, Footnote, ProQuest and the Godfrey Library announced in May they’d provide access at FamilySearch’s Family History Centers. Nonprofit libraries and archives, including NARA, are using partnerships to increase records access without blowing their budgets.

Social networking explodes
As contributing editor Rick Crume points out in his January 2008 Family Tree Magazine social networking guide, Web 2.0 has allowed sites to be more interactive than ever. In addition to the popularity of photo- and family-history-sharing sites such as Geni and Amiglia, and genealogy networking sites such as FamilyLink and WeRelate, database sites such as FindMyPast have added social networking features.

Family Tree Maker 2008 disappoints
Surely you’ve seen the comments from customers who bought the revamped genealogy program after a brief beta period, only to be disappointed by missing reports, data importing problems and other bugs. If not, let us help you out from under that rock, and take a look at readers’ comments in our products forum.

DNA testing gets higher profile
Your options for genetic genealogy testing—and the number of companies that’ll test you—jumped this year. The Generations Network hopped on board with DNA Ancestry. Mainstream media regularly weigh in on topics such as newcomer 23andme and the usefulness of testing for ethnic roots. PBS’s “African-American Lives” has brought genetic genealogy to prime time.

NARA rates rise
NARA’s new rates for ordering copies of records, which included $75 for a Civil War pension file (up from $37), made us wonder about national priorities regarding the public’s access to historical records. Thank goodness for all that digitization (above).

Everyone’s blogging
It’s not hard to find genealogy news, resources and research updates from people in the know—just go to Google Blog Search and type in genealogy. You might come across The Ancestry Insider (an “unofficial, unauthorized view …”), Geneablogie (the author’s “exploration of his American family of families”) or one of the tens of thousands of other blogs about family history. Heck, Family Tree Magazine got in on the act, too.

Online videos are everywhere
Thank Roots Television for this one. It actually launched in 2006, but expanded its coverage this year by sending crews to genealogy conferences and on cruises, and adding RootsTube (a genealogical version of YouTube where you can upload videos). Founder Megan Smolenyak Smolenyak says the site’s roughly 400 shows (divided into 1,100 smaller chunks) are “pushing half a million video views.”

Genealogists get younger
A survey Ancestry.com recently released found younger people expressed higher interest in learning heir family history. Empirical evidence—young people at conferences, youth branches of national societies (see our Web site for links) and Facebook genealogy add-ons—also tells us this. This means genealogy can continue its status among the country’s popular pastimes.

Related Products


Leave a Reply

You may use these HTML tags and attributes:

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>


  1. Great article – and great times to be involved in family research!

    I would add one additional story that hasn’t made the &quot;news&quot; but has a significant impact on the genealogy community – the genealogy bloggers network. An impressive genblog community has grown during the past year providing support and encouragement for each other through comments, carnivals and online scanfests. I believe this community will continue to grow in the new year and that the entire genealogy community will benefit.

  2. One of the most important stories was how Ancestry.com further antagonized many genealogy researchers by a) taking Ancestry.com out of the FHL and FHCs in April (and put it back in some of them in December); and b) collected, cached and indexed genealogy web sites in the Internet Biographical Collection in August, putting it first behind the subscription wall, then offering it for free, and finally withdrawing it. Very bad PR. No matter what Ancestry does, there is a groundswell of antagonism to Ancestry because of their mis-steps and perceived &quot;greed.&quot;

    Frankly, there are not &quot;tens of thousands&quot; of blogs about family history – Chris Dunham’s Genealogy Blog Finder identifies over 700, but not all are active, and many have infrequent posts. The vast majority of genealogy professionals and genealogy teachers/speakers do not have a blog. Most of the current genealogy blogs are non-professional researchers who like to write and share their genealogy life.

    The most important long-term genealogy news story is the LDS FamilySearch Indexing and Record Search digitizing, which should open up many heretofore non-digitized records in coming years – the land, probate, town, church and other records on microform.

    That’s my two cents — Randy Seaver

  3. Thanks for the blogs information, Randy, and for pointing out a useful tool!

    You all can access the Genealogy Blog Finder at http://blogfinder.genealogue.com/. It categorizes blogs that are primarily focused on genealogy, whereas Google’s blog search finds blog posts about genealogy (whether or not the blog as a whole focuses on genealogy) or blog titles containing the word &quot;genealogy&quot; (so you’d miss a cleverly named blog such as Geneablogie).

  4. As a &quot;novice genealogist&quot; (abt 20yrs during free time!)I have found Ancestry.com to be quite helpful, but sometimes, as Seaver points out, indifferent to customer’s real needs, on a cost/time basis! Paradoxially,&quot;it’s&quot; on-line presentation for using the FamilyTreeMaker 2008 edition seemed an informative and genuine way to coax the customer back. Since I use several various FTMs on several working computers, I found myself enthralled with the progress that has been made in this self-publishing atmosphere. Now to get these records claimed as genuine, authoritative,&amp; accurate by DAR, etc…without consummate digging elsewhere is the issue!

  5. Frances Miers Muller

    I don’t see GenealogyBank.com on your list. It may have come out a year earlier, but I first read about it in one of Family History Magazine’s in early 2007. Fantastic site! The first night I used it, I found articles about three of my great-grandmother’s brothers. Everytime I use GenealogyBank.com, I find at least two more articles in the newspaper section. I have checked Ancestry’s newspaper list, but most of them are on the Eastern US; GenealogyBank.com has the Dallas Morning News and several other Texas newspapers.