Here’s some news to warm a genealogist’s heart before Thanksgiving: According to the first chapter of Ancestry.com’s new Global Family History Report, online family history research has grown in the United States by 14 times over the past decade, with 63 percent of respondents stating that family history has become more important than ever.
The study by the Future Foundation on behalf of Ancestry.com examined trends in the family—both past and present—across six developed countries: the United States, UK, Canada, Australia, Germany and Sweden.
Overall, it indicates that generations are growing closer and families are increasingly interested in their history. Other findings include:
- The number of grandchildren with a close relationship with a grandparent has risen from 60 percent in the 1950s to 1960s, to 78 percent today.
Ancestry.com family historian Michelle Ercanbreck attributes this to advances in technology and medicine: “As grand- and great-grandparents live longer and stay connected with social media, there are now unprecedented opportunities to engage with younger generations and pass on family stories.”
- Nearly three-quarters (72 percent) of respondents reported feeling closer to older relatives, with half of older relatives saying they had drawn closer to young relatives as a result of learning more about their family.
- Younger people (55 percent overall) are among those inspired most to learn more about their family history by talking with older family members.
- The average family history for US respondents stretches back 184 years, compared to 149 years a generation ago.
- Among Americans who’ve gone beyond talking to family to research their family history, three of the most commonly used resources are photographs (81 percent); birth, marriage and death records (66 percent); and letters (45 percent).
Do you like the idea of bringing generations closer and passing on a family history legacy? Take a look at our book Stories From My Grandparent: An Heirloom Journal for Your Grandchild. If you’re inspired to start tracing your family history, Discover Your Family History Online can point you to the best genealogy websites and online resources to start your search.