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 FamilySearchs 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. Thats 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.
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 theyd provide access at FamilySearchs 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 youve 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 testingand the number of companies thatll test youjumped 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. PBSs “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 publics access to historical records. Thank goodness for all that digitization (above).
Its not hard to find genealogy news, resources and research updates from people in the knowjust go to Google Blog Search and type in genealogy. You might come across The Ancestry Insider (an unofficial, unauthorized view …), Geneablogie (the authors 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 evidenceyoung people at conferences, youth branches of national societies (see our Web site for links) and Facebook genealogy add-onsalso tells us this. This means genealogy can continue its status among the countrys popular pastimes.