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Posts Tagged ‘Family history’

One of the most useful software features that has shown up on most web sites these days is something called “look-ahead” technology.

Here’s the idea.  Let’s say you go to the Google web site and you’re looking for a way to hunt down relatives.  You begin typing “find my relatives” into the search box.  But as you type, Google lists a number of phrases that start with the characters that you’ve already typed–things that Google things you might be typing.  So by the time you’ve typed “find my r”, it lists “find my relatives” as one possible thing that you might be searching for.

This is really useful because Google often seems to figure out what you’re going to type, long before you finish typing.  Then you can just click on the phrase that you were going to type and proceed with your search.

How does this work?  Here’s where “look-ahead” comes into play.  Instead of waiting until you finish typing to search its database, Google takes what you’ve already typed and does a quick search in the database.  But instead of searching for web sites, which is what happens when you press the “Google Search” button, it searches for things that other users have typed in the past.

The reason that this is useful is that people tend to search for things that other people have already searched for.  You are definitely not the first person who has entered “find my relatives” into the Google search bar.  So it suggests “find my relatives” as one possible sentence you might be typing.

So this is basically a big time saver for you, since you rarely have to type the entire phrase that you’d thought of into the search bar.  Even better, you might see some phrases that are similar to yours that you had not thought of.

But Google doesn’t just list a bunch of things it thinks you might be typing.  It lists the most common search phrases that match what you’re typing.  What’s more, it orders the list by popularity, with the most common at the top.

This makes reading Google’s list of suggested search phrases very interesting.  By typing a word or two, we can get some insight into what people are searching for.

So, What Are People Searching For?

So now the fun begins.  Let’s enter a handful of interesting phrases into the Google search bar, to see what the most common searches are that start with that phrase.

find my ..

  • find my ip address
  • find my ip
  • find my congressman
  • find my house
  • find my spot

my family ..

  • my family tree
  • my family and other animals
  • myfamilytree.biz
  • myfamily.com
  • my family health portrait

genealogy ..

  • genealogy search
  • genealogy software
  • genealogy sites
  • genealogy free
  • genealogy websites

family photos ..

  • family photos ideas
  • family photos poses
  • family photos on the beach
  • family photos of barack obama
  • family photos what to wear

family tree ..

  • family tree maker
  • family tree template
  • family tree search
  • family tree chart
  • family tree dna

family history ..

  • family history library
  • family history library catalog
  • family history free
  • family history questions
  • family history online

ancestors ..

  • ancestors search
  • ancestors.com
  • ancestors in the attic
  • ancestors definition
  • ancestors myspace

You get the idea.  Google can tell you a lot about what people are searching for and that can be illuminating for certain search phrases.

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Out of all of my family history artifacts, the few audio recordings that I have are among my most cherished.  My paternal grandfather had an early tape recorder that he carted around to family events in the 1960s.  He’d pull out the microphone and create a little variety show, asking various family members to “come up” and say a few words–or even sing a song.  So our family now has these wonderful recordings featuring various family members, long gone, singing old Irish ballads.  In the world of genealogy and family history, this is pure gold.

Because of how precious these audio memories are to me, I think a lot about how important it is to capture and preserve snippets of audio from my own time and place.  It may seem like nothing special right now, to record a conversation with a family member, but I’m convinced that even the most mundane things that we capture will be treasured by our children and their descendants.

I had a great-aunt who died this past Fall, the last surviving sibling from my grandpa’s family of twelve kids.  I was lucky enough to have been able to visit her back in 2007.  She lived in California and I’m living in Minnesota, but I took a special trip to just go out and visit with her.  And because I’d traveled so far, I made sure to spend a number of days with her.

The best part about visiting Aunt Alice was that I didn’t go empty-handed.  I brought all of my family notes and was ready with a number of questions that I wanted to ask her.  But the best thing that I brought with me was a little digital recorder.  (Something like this).  This little device was incredible.  I left it turned on for the entire 4 days that I spent with Alice and I collected many, many hours of wonderful stories.  The best part is that everything was recorded digitally–so all of the content is already transfered to my PC and (of course) automatically being backed up.  I can go back through the audio content and pull out interesting bits of family history data at my leisure.  The important thing is that I spoke with Alice before she was gone and, even more precious, I captured many hours of her talking about her life.

We should all make an effort to do this with older relatives.  We know that we need to start with the oldest generation first, when looking for information about the family.  So we go out and interview them to check our facts, or glean new information.  But we should also be recording all of these conversations, just to capture these relatives’ stories in their own voices.

Stories are powerful.  But they are so much more powerful when recorded as audio.  If you haven’t already heard of them, take a look at StoryCorps.  They are a non-profit who has been traveling around, letting people tell their personal stories in their own words, recording everything and then preserving it at the Library of Congress.  The stories are wonderful: moving, heart-warming, sad, tragic and exuberant.  Basically a reflection of life itself.

Capturing someone’s voice in an audio format is also very different from capturing video.  It’s much more than just some subset of a video recording, but something much richer.  When recording audio, people tend to sit closer to the microphone and just talk–so they aren’t moving around or doing something else and you get their full attention.  Listening to an audio recording is different, too.  Somehow, when there’s nothing to look at and you just listen to the person’s voice, their stories and history enter your psyche and affect you in a way that video never does.

The Lucy Show

After hearing about the StoryCorps and after collecting such wonderful stories from my Aunt Alice, I’m more motivated than ever to really make an effort to capture stories from other family members.  I do intend to do this.  It just takes a little bit of time and energy.

But I have a slight more immediate goal.  I very much want to preserve my kids’ voices.  My daughter is 4 years old and the most loquacious member of the family by far.  My son is only 13 months old, so for the moment he’s limited to saying “uh-oh” after he throws his bottle on the floor.

I really treasure the conversations that I have with my daughter Lucy.  We have an incredibly long commute and we spend much of it just talking about everything under the sun.  It’s absolutely a no-brainer for me to try to capture some of this in an audio format.  I know that whatever I record and preserve today will one day be a real treasure to her and to her kids.

In the past, I’ve recorded Lucy once in a while, when it occurred to me.  I used the same little digital voice recorder that I bought for my trip to California, and just had a little conversation with Lucy.  But I always seem to forget about it.  Somehow, reaching for the voice recorder isn’t as obvious as reaching for the digital camera or the camcorder.

So I decided about a year ago to do something different to capture Lucy in an audio format.  Instead of just recording her, I decided to create an audio podcast that featured some of our conversations.  I’m an iPod addict and a huge fan of podcasts, so it seemed an obvious choice.

Capturing audio as a podcast has a couple of benefits.  For starters, we’d actually have an audience.  If we recorded a regular chat and then published our recording as a podcast, family members could just subscribe to that podcast using a “podcatcher” like iTunes.  As soon as I published a new “episode”, they would just get it the next time that they synched their iPod.  Also, because most people listen to podcasts on portable devices like iPods, they could bring our audio chats with them wherever they went, as opposed to having to go to a web site to find the recordings.

The other benefit of having an audience is that there’s a tiny bit more pressure to keep up the habit of recording Lucy regularly.  Once grandma has gotten a couple podcasts automatically transfered to her iPod, she’ll be bugging me for the next one.  And being gently bugged is a good thing, because it will just remind me how important these recordings are.

Finally, you can think of podcasts as a way of ensuring that your recordings won’t get lost.  To publish the podcast, you’ll end up uploading the recording to a server somewhere.  We do this so that people can then download the podcast using a tool like iTunes.  But it has the happy side benefit of forcing you to have a copy stored somewhere other than just on your PC.  Secondly, because other people will be downloading your recording, they all have their own copies.  One of the best ways to ensure that your family information is preserved is to disseminate it as broadly as possible.

The Lucy Show

So this past weekend, I finally got around to publishing the first two episodes of The Lucy Show.  If you go to this web site, you can listen to the two episodes right in your web browser.  But if you know just a little bit about iTunes, you can also click on the Subscribe link and paste the resulting “feed” into iTunes, becoming a regular subscriber of “The Lucy Show”.

I’m very happy about what we put together.  I was also very surprised at how easy this was.  I spent just a little time finding some “theme music” and learning how to do a little bit of editing to create the podcast.  But this was all easy enough that I’d recommend it to anyone who is thinking about a unique way to preserve recordings of their family members.  Most of all, I’m excited to make this a regular habit so that these recordings just become something that Lucy has when she’s older.

I’ll share more details, in a future post, of how I actually created and published these podcasts.  Maybe once you see how easy it is, you’ll be inspired to create your own podcasts and capture a little bit of family history.

P.S.  Let me know what you think of the theme music that opens and closes The Lucy Show.  It’s Lucy’s favorite part.

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In a recent post, I included a list of genealogy-related web sites, including sub-categories for “Online Family Trees” and “Social/Family Networking”.  I’m going to start reviewing the sites listed in these two categories and publish some of my findings/thoughts here.  As I review each site, I’ll try to go a bit beyond just publishing a list of features.  Instead, I’ll sign up as a member of each site and make an effort to use the site for its intended purpose and then share my impressions.

I’ll start with amiglia.com, which is the first site, alphabetically, in these two categories.

01-logo

Overview

Amiglia bills itself as a Family Tree + Photo Album.  It’s basically a photo-sharing site for families, allowing uploading of a GEDCOM file to create the family structure and then uploading of photos and videos and attaching them to individuals in the family.

Amiglia was founded by Paul, Milena and Tim Berry, who started the site as a personal web site used to share photos between extended family members.  They eventually opened the site up to the public.

Amiglia is still listed as being in beta, but appears not to have been actively worked on since early 2007.  The expiration, in July of 2008, of the site’s SSL certificate, is further evidence that amiglia is no longer being actively supported or promoted.  The site’s support staff did not respond to an e-mail that I sent, asking about the status of the site.

Pricing

Amiglia advertises a 365-day free trial, followed by a membership fee of $49.95/yr thereafter.

Traffic / Popularity

In my list of genealogy sites ranked by traffic for Aug, 2008, amiglia was ranked 128th out of 163, with compete.com reporting a total of 3,000 visits for the month of August.  It was ranked 25th out of 29 in the “Online Family Trees” category and 15th out of 17 in the “Social/Family Networking Category”.

Feature List

Amiglia advertises the following list of features:

  • Family tree with photos that you can blog
  • Linked albums of related families
  • Personal profiles linked to nuclear family
  • Family facebook of your entire family
  • Family calendar with birthdays and events
  • Maps of geolocated photos
  • Easy tagging for people, themes, places
  • Easy search for family photos
  • Elegant slideshows to view, email and blog
  • Music uploads to any slideshow
  • Integrated Skype calling and chats
  • Riya import
  • Interactive photo-based babies’ games
  • Easy mass uploading
  • Upload by e-mail or with camera phone
  • Import from Flickr or Photoshop Album
  • Easy GEDCOM imports at signup
  • Video clips support (up to 5MB each)
  • Advanced privacy, no spam, no ads
  • Backup CDs or DVDs at minimal charge
  • Email reminders for family birthdays

During the course of my use of the site, I exercised some, but not all, of these features.

Signing Up

You need to sign up with an account on amiglia before you can create a tree or start uploading photos.  I immediately ran into a serious problem when I tried to sign up.  The site’s security (SSL) certificate has expired.  (As of 6 Oct, 2008).  This means that by default your browser won’t load the signup page, given that it is a secure (HTTPS) web page.  This is a serious problem—you should never load an HTTPS page if your browser is unable to validate the associated security certificate.  You can actually ignore the problem, telling your browser to load the page anyway, but doing so would be a serious security risk.

002-securitycertfailure

What does this mean?  Basically, two things:

  • When you sign up for the site, the signup page will not be secure.  The password that you enter here could potentially be compromised.  But since you don’t need to enter credit card information, this is serious, but not potentially all that dangerous.
  • The expiration of the security certificate is a sign that amiglia is essentially a dead site

I wanted to continue reviewing the site, so I did bypass the lack of a security certificate and went ahead and signed up.

003-signup

Note that when you sign up, you are able to suggest a sub-domain as part of the URL that you share with your family.  This is a handy feature—instead of just going to amiglia.com and logging in, your family can get to the family tree directly by going to yourname.amiglia.com.  The availability of the name would depend, of course, on whether someone else has already taken that name.  In my case sexton.amiglia.com was available.

Privacy Settings

The next step is to decide on whether your site is private or public.  You are able to make the entire site public (viewing, editing), allow public viewing only, or make the site entirely private.

Another very nice feature is the ability to set a single family password.  I didn’t test this, but the idea here is that family members don’t necessarily have to sign up in order to gain access to the site.  Instead, they can use a common password that you share with the entire family.  This makes it much easier for family members to get at the site.

004-privacysettings

Creating Your Tree

After you sign up, you’re shown your default tree, with you at the center:

005-defaulttree

At this point, you can start manually entering family members, or you can upload a GEDCOM file.  I chose to upload a GEDCOM file, deciding to use the Kennedy family as my test case.

006-uploadtree

Amiglia appeared to read my Kennedy.ged file with no problems.  Once it was uploaded, I was asked who I wanted to choose as the center of my tree.  I picked John Fitzgerald Kennedy.  (Born 1917—I had to page down a bit to find JFK in the list).

007-selectcenter

I was a little disappointed at how the names were organized here.  They were apparently sorted by birthdate, youngest first.  But it would have been nice to have selected the center point with a textual search or dropdown.  If you have a large family tree, it could potentially take a very long time to find the person that you want.

At this point, I was completely signed up and I’d created a basic Kennedy family tree.

008-allsetup

Family Tree View

In Amiglia, the most common way of seeing the people in your tree is by using the Family Tree view.  This is a graphical rendering of your family tree that allows moving around through the tree.  Here’s what the Kennedy tree looks like:

009-familytree1

One problem that I saw was that when I navigate to the home page, sexton.amiglia.com in my case, it still contained the default family tree that showed me (spsexton) at the center of the tree.  To see the tree that I’d just uploaded (the Kennedys), I had to click on the Family Tree choice in the main menu.  I think that this is because amiglia couldn’t find me in the Kennedy tree, but even after editing my profile, I wasn’t able to get this to work properly.  There seemed to be no way to get the Kennedy tree to be the default tree on the site, or JFK to be the default person that you see when you go to the home page.

As you move your mouse around in this tree view, the tree gently slides to reveal more family members.  The general idea is that when you hover over someone who appears at the edge of the tree, they slide over to the center of the tree.

Although the tree navigation is sort of appealing, with the smooth scrolling, there are enough problems with it to make the navigation completely unusable.

As you move the mouse towards the edge of the tree, it scrolls a bit, to try to shift more of the tree on that side of the screen to the center of the screen.  But because of this, if you go try to click on someone in the try, they often slide away before you can click on them.  This is very frustrating.  It’s so bad that there were cases when I absolutely could not click on a particular individual—as I tried to move the mouse over them, that person would jump alternately from one side of the screen to the other.  Argh!

There were a number of other problems with the tree navigation, rendering it fairly unusable.  These include:

  • You can jump to related trees easily (e.g. Jackie’s family), but often you can’t easily navigate back to the original family
  • There is no easy way to navigate to a person by entering their name.
  • The screen says that I should “click on the name of any person to see their profile”.  But clicking on various people, I was never able to see any additional information.
  • It would be helpful to be able to zoom in/out of the family tree.  With the default size, it feels like I’m zoomed way in to the tree and it was hard to get an idea of the big picture.
  • It’s very difficult to go directly to a specific family member.  You can go to the Facebook page (see below) and hunt through a list of pictures.  But there is no easy way to go directly to a particular person.

Adding Photos

The next step is to upload some headshot photos of people in the family.  Headshots are displayed as thumbnails in the family tree and appear in the “Facebook” area of the web page.

There are two basic ways to upload a photo of someone.  The first is to navigate to that person’s profile and then upload the photo.  The second method is to upload the photo and then identify who the person is in the photo.

Let’s try the first method—navigating first to a person and then uploading a photo for them.  I thought I’d start with JFK and upload a profile.  It’s a bit difficult to navigate directly to JFK’s profile.  The only way I found of getting to that person was to select their silhouette from the Facebook page, which you can get at the Facebook button in the main menu, or by clicking on a silhouette at the bottom of the Family Tree view.  (Note that not all family members are shown in silhouette on this page, so you’ll need to click on the “More People” link at the bottom of the page.

Here’s what the page full of silhouettes looks like.  Again, the big problem here is that it’s very difficult to find the person that you’re looking for.  There are no birth dates, so you end up seeing identically-named people.  There’s also no way to sort the family members, or see them in a basic list.

010-facebook1

Once we locate JFK and click on his name, we get back to the standard Family Tree view, with a portion of the tree shown in the top of the window, and John’s profile shown in the bottom.

011-updateindividual

At this point we can click the Browse button to upload a photo.  Once we do that, the new photo is now shown as a thumbnail whenever John appears in the family tree.  The same image is now used in place of the generic silhouette on the Facebook page and when viewing John’s parents or children.  Oddly, the photo of John is not shown when you’re viewing his profile, other than as a tiny image in the family tree.  Grr!

After we’ve uploaded an image for JFK, here’s what John Jr’s profile page looks like.  Note that John Sr’s photo is now shown instead of the silhouette.

012-johnjr

One problem that I found is that even after uploading John’s head shot, the head thumbnail is not always shown on the family tree.  This appears to be a bug.  It seems like only if we’re already viewing John’s profile, then that fragment of the family tree will show his head shot.  But in many cases, the head shot is not shown.

There appears to be another bug in how photos are attached to people.  I uploaded a photo of Jackie using the same process as the one of John, and both now are used as silhouettes.  However, when I go to the list of all photos (main Photos button), I see Jackie’s photo, but not John’s.  This also appears to be a bug, in that there seems to be no way to edit standard photo properties for the photo of John.

I continued with this process a bit further, uploading some more head shots.  As I added photos and attached them to people, the main family tree gradually filled in to include the head shots.

General Thoughts

Amiglia.com is really targeted towards a single family, allowing sharing of photos between siblings or parents/children/grandchildren.  There are some areas of the site that seem to assume this is the case, rather than that you’ve uploaded a larger family tree, including deceased relatives.  For example, the calendar shows family member’s birthdays, but only includes their first name.  For a large family, going back a number of generations, the calendar would be pretty useless.

Usability: using amiglia.com is very painful.  It’s confusing and inconsistent—to the degree that would likely lead to people just giving up on the site because they can’t figure out how to use it.

Performance: the site is very slow, even painfully slow.  I tried connecting from various locations and on a very fast DSL link.  But in all cases, the performance was equally slow.  This points to a problem on the server side.  Likely amiglia.com is being hosted on a single machine that is just not fast enough to keep up with the demand.

Conclusions

I’d intended to go further with my review and use more of the features, but I’ve given up on amiglia for two reasons:

  • It just became too painful to work with.  The usability and quality level is so poor that I’d never recommend Amiglia to anyone.  Nor would I use it myself for storing and organizing family photos
  • As of 8 Nov, 2008, amiglia.com now appears to be completely down and has been unavailable for at least several days.

Amiglia.com appears to be one of those “web 2.0” sites that had a lot of promise, but never took off and has now quietly died.  It never got above 4,000 unique visitors/month, so it never became a mainstream site.  And, based on the expiration of the SSL certificate, and the unavailability of the site itself, it now appears to be truly dead.

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Here is a complete list of the family history web sites whose traffic I surveyed in the previous post.  As I mentioned in the earlier post, I’ve broken the sites down into several major categories, based on the primary purpose of the site.

This list includes every site in each category, along with a short description of the site.  The sites are listed alphabetically.

Blogs / Podcasts / News

dearmyrtle.com – Dear Myrtle
eogn.com – Eastman’s online genealogy newsletter
genealogue.com – Genealogy news
genealogyguys.com – The Genealogy Guys
olivetreegenealogy.com – Search records, resource guides

Community

cousinconnect.com – Queries about particular familys/individuals
daddezio.com – Italian genealogy
family-reunion.com – Family reunion planning
familytree.com – Brief intro to genealogy
gendir.com – Genealogy directory & message boards
genealogy-search-advice.com – Ask questions, get answers
genealogy.com – Family Tree Maker, message boards, online trees, search records  [Generations Network]
geneanet.org – Records search, online trees, online photos, famous trees, postcards, community  [GeneaNet]
genhomepage.com – Site directories, help/guides, community  [Stephen A Wood]
genuki.org – UK & Ireland genealogy
jewishgen.org – Home of Jewish genealogy
lineages.com – Professional researchers
makemyfamilytree.com – Community site, info on “making” family tree
raogk.org – Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness
rootsweb.com – Free records search, online trees, publish web site, message boards  [Generations Network]
usgennet.org – Non-profit genealogical web hosting service
us-census.org – USGenWeb census project
werelate.org – Community site, wiki
yourfamily.com – Bulletin/message boards

Directories

accessgenealogy.com – Links to various resources
census-online.com – Links to census data
cyndislist.com – Directory of sites
familyhistory101.com – Organized collection of links & info
gendir.com – Genealogy directory & message boards
genealogylinks.net – Over 50,000 links, by region
genealogysearch.org – Surname search, directory
geneasearch.com – Resources for searching
genhomepage.com – Site directories, help/guides, community  [Stephen A Wood]
gensource.com – Genealogy directory
kindredtrails.com – Genealogy links
linkpendium.com – Definitive genealogical directory
usgenweb.org – Links to state/county records

DNA

23andme.com – Genetics
dnaancestryproject.com – Genebase  (see also genebase.com)
dnaheritage.com – DNA testing
familytreedna.com – DNA database
genebase.com – Genebase (see also dnaancestryproject.com)
smgf.org – Sorenson Molecular Genealogy Foundation

Magazines

ancestrymagazine.com – Ancestry magazine
everton.com – Everton Publishers, Everton’s Genealogical Helper
familychronicle.com – Family Chronicle
familytreemagazine.com – Family Tree

Online Family Trees

amiglia.com – Post family tree, photos
ancestry.ca – Ancestry.com site for Canada
ancestry.co.uk – Ancestry.com site for United Kingdom
ancestry.com – Paid records search, publish books, online trees  [Generations Network]
ancestry.com.au – Ancestry.com site for Australia
famillion.com – Build your family tree; connect/merge with other trees
familylink.com – Create family tree online  (now familyhistorylink.com)
familytreeguide.com – Post family tree online
findmypast.com – Post family tree, search records
gencircles.com – Post family tree, search trees
genealogy.com – Family Tree Maker, message boards, online trees, search records  [Generations Network]
geneanet.org – Records search, online trees, online photos, famous trees, postcards, community  [GeneaNet]
genesreunited.com – Build family tree online & find your family
genetree.com – Create online tree, share w/family
geni.com – Post family tree, photos, videos
genserv.com – Collection of searchable GEDCOM files
kincafe.com – Family tree, shared photos, calendar
kindo.com – Build family tree, share with family
kindredkonnections.com – Search records, post family tree (mytrees.com)
myheritage.com – Post family tree, photos, Family Tree Builder software  [Israeli company]
noktree.com – Post families/individuals, messaging, etc.
onefamilytree.com – Post family tree
onegreatfamily.com – Post family tree, search other trees
pedigreesoft.com – Online shared family tree  [Findmypast.com]
rootsweb.com – Free records search, online trees, publish web site, message boards  [Generations Network]
sharedtree.com – Online shared family tree
tribalpages.com – Post family tree, photos
webtree.com – Publish/shared family tree, display charts
wikitree.org – Post/search global family tree
worldroots.com – Lineage of famous people & royalty
zooof.com – Build family tree, discover connections

Search

accessible.com – Primary source material from 18th/19th cent periodicals
allvitalrecords.com – State records
ancestorguide.com – Surname search
ancestorhunt.com – Free genealogy search engines
ancestralfindings.com – Search records
ancestry.ca – Ancestry.com site for Canada
ancestry.co.uk – Ancestry.com site for United Kingdom
ancestry.com – Paid records search, publish books, online trees  [Generations Network]
ancestry.com.au – Ancestry.com site for Australia
ancestryconnections.com – Search surnames
archive.gov – The National Archives
censusfinder.com – Directory of free census records
deadfred.com – Search photos
deathindexes.com – Searchable death indexes & records
deathrecordsobituarysearch.com – Search death records
distantcousin.com – Archive of genealogical data & document images
ellisisland.org – Search immigration records
ellisislandrecords.org – Search immigration records
familybirthrecords.com – Search records  [Generations Network]
familycensusrecords.com – Search records  [Generations Network]
familydeathrecords.com – Search records  [Generations Network]
familyhistory.com – Search databases, message boards  [Generations Network]
familymarriagerecords.com – Search records  [Generations Network]
familymilitaryrecords.com – Search records  [Generations Network]
familysearch.org – Free records search, PAF software  [Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints]
familytreesearcher.com – Find family trees at nine sites
findagrave.com – Search cemeteries
findmypast.com – Post family tree, search records
footnote.com – Search historical documents
genealogy.com – Family Tree Maker, message boards, online trees, search records  [Generations Network]
genealogy.org – Search records  [Generations Network]
genealogybank.com – Search records
genealogybuff.com – Search record, get state/city info
genealogysearch.org – Surname search, directory
genealogytoday.com – Records search, articles
geneanet.org – Records search, online trees, online photos, famous trees, postcards, community  [GeneaNet]
genwed.com – Marriage records online
gjenvick.com – Search passenger records
heritagequestonline.com – Search census, books, PERSI
idreamof.com – Search records
immigrantships.net – Search passenger lists
interment.net – Search cemetery records
kindredkonnections.com – Search records, post family tree (mytrees.com)
mortalityschedules.com – Search mortality schedules
newspaperabstracts.com – Search newspapers
newspaperarchive.com – Search old newspapers  [Heritage Microfilm]
noktree.com – Post families/individuals, messaging, etc.
obitcentral.com – Obituary central
obitsarchive.com – Search for obituaries
olivetreegenealogy.com – Search records, resource guides
onegreatfamily.com – Post family tree, search other trees
pastplaces.com – Repository of old photos, videos, stories
politicalgraveyard.com – Search for where dead politicans are buried
rootssearch.net – Search records
rootsweb.com – Free records search, online trees, publish web site, message boards  [Generations Network]
searchforancestors.com – Search various records
searchyourgenealogy.com – Search records
stevemorse.org – Search records
surnameweb.org – Search surnames
theshipslist.com – Search passenger lists
us-census.org – USGenWeb census project
vitalrec.com – Search vital records
worldvitalrecords.com – Search historical data
yourpastconnections.com – Database of items discovered at auctions, etc.

Social / Family Networking

amiglia.com – Post family tree, photos
ancestry.com – Paid records search, publish books, online trees  [Generations Network]
ancientfaces.com – Post photos
familybuilder.com – Build/share family tree
famiva.com – Social network for families
genetree.com – Create online tree, share w/family
geni.com – Post family tree, photos, videos
itsourtree.com – Create family tree, stay in contact with relatives
kincafe.com – Family tree, shared photos, calendar
kindo.com – Build family tree, share with family
lifeonrecord.com – Capture family stories from phone
livinggenealogy.com – Create pages for ancestors, share photos/stories/documents, blog
myfamily.com – Share family photos/videos/stories  [Generations Network]
myheritage.com – Post family tree, photos, Family Tree Builder software  [Israeli company]
ourstory.com – Save stories, photos on collaborative timeline
storyofmylife.com – Post personal stories, preserved in perpetuity  [Story of My Life Foundation]
tribalpages.com – Post family tree, photos

Software / Tools

ancestralauthor.com – Create PDF files from GEDCOM files
ancquest.com – Ancestral Quest, PAFWiz  [Incline Software]
bkwin.com – Brother’s Keeper
clooz.com – Online filing cabinet for documents/records
dorotree.com – Family tree software for Jewish historians
family-historian.co.uk – Family Historian 3
familysearch.org – Free records search, PAF software  [Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints]
familysearchlabs.org – Various tools that are still under development
familytreelegends.com – Family Tree Legends 5.0
familytreemaker.com – Family Tree Maker software  [Generations Network]
famtreesoftware.com – Famtree software
famware.com – Family oriented software
gedhtree.com – Generate charts/trees from GED file
geditcom.com – Edit/view GEDCOM files on the Mac
ged4web.com – Convert GED file to web pages
genbox.com – Genbox Family History (see also thoughtfulcreations.com)
gendesigner.com – GenDesigner 3.0
genealogy.com – Family Tree Maker, message boards, online trees, search records  [Generations Network]
genealogy-software-review.com – Reviews/comparisons of major software tools
legacyfamilytree.com – Legacy 7
leisterpro.com – Reunion 9
macgenealogy.org – Mac Genealogy software information
mudcreeksoftware.com – GENMatcher, GENViewer
myheredis.com – Heredis Mac X.2
myheritage.com – Post family tree, photos, Family Tree Builder software  [Israeli company]
phpgedview.net – PhpGedView–view/edit Ged files on web
progenygenealogy.com – Map My Family Tree, Charting Companion, Genelines
raynorshyn.com – GEDClean tool
rootsmagic.com – RootsMagic, Personal Historian, Family Atlas
starkeffect.com – GED2HTML, GEDCOM Viewer
thoughtfulcreations.com – Genbox Family History, for organizing research (see also genbox.com)
uftree.com – Family Tree Maker 2005
whollygenes.com – The Master Genealogist
winfamily.com – WinFamily 7

Read Full Post »

This post includes a survey of web site traffic for some of the most popular family history and genealogy related web sites.  The data included shows # page visits for each web site for the month of August, 2008.  This data was taken from the compete.com web site.

The # page visits metric, as defined by compete.com, means–the total number of visits to a site during the month, which may include multiple visits by a particular user.  If the user visits multiple pages on the site, it is still counted as a single visit, unless that user has been inactive for at least 30 minutes.  After 30 minutes, any further page loads are counted as a new visit.

All web traffic is shown for a particular domain, e.g. ancestry.com.  Data is not broken down by multiple pages/areas within that domain, e.g. search.ancestry.com vs. ancestrypress.ancestry.com.

I’ve grouped the web sites into several top-level categories, based on the primary purpose or use of the site.  Some sites appear in multiple categories, if they have significant functionality in multiple categories.

I haven’t included sites that deal with specific surnames, specific geographical regions, or specific products (e.g. ordering coats of arms).

In each category, I’ll present a graph showing the # visits for each site, followed by the actual data for the sites in that category.  Both the graph and the data will be sorted, with the sites having the most number of visits listed first.

When actual site data is listed, I include both “# visits” and “# unique visits” data.  The number of unique visits shows the number of individual computers/users that visited the site during the month, as opposed to the total number of visits.

All Sites

To start with, here are metrics for the top sites, across all categories.  To keep the graph manageable, only the top sites are graphed–i.e. those having at least 100,000 visits per month.

All Sites (>100,000 visits/mo)

All Sites (>100,000 visits/mo)

Here is the full list of sites, with the most frequently visited listed first.

All sites – visits/mo | uniques/mo | avg-visits/mo
ancestry.com – 15.3 million | 4.9 million | 3.1
myfamily.com – 6.66 million | 987,000 | 6.7
familysearch.org – 3.02 million | 990,000 | 3.1
myheritage.com – 2.47 million | 923,000 | 2.7
genealogy.com – 2.19 million | 1.16 million | 1.9
findagrave.com – 1.72 million | 643,000 | 2.7
rootsweb.com – 1.43 million | 687,000 | 2.1
geni.com – 1.34 million | 397,000 | 3.4
footnote.com – 1.03 million | 790,000 | 1.3
newspaperarchive.com – 976,000 | 805,000 | 1.2
archives.gov – 822,000 | 677,000 | 1.2
worldvitalrecords.com – 625,000 | 412,000 | 1.5
familylink.com – 546,000 | 308,000 | 1.8  (now familyhistorylink.com)
ancestorhunt.com – 529,000 | 437,000 | 1.2
heritagequestonline.com – 438,000 | 111,000 | 3.9
onegreatfamily.com – 421,000 | 325,000 | 1.3
interment.net – 406,000 | 288,000 | 1.4
genealogytoday.com – 333,000 | 295,000 | 1.1
usgenweb.org – 325,000 | 133,000 | 2.4
usgennet.org – 313,000 | 213,000 | 1.5
accessgenealogy.com – 295,000 | 222,000 | 1.3
cyndislist.com – 269,000 | 183,000 | 1.5
familytreedna.com – 241,000 | 106,000 | 2.3
vitalrec.com – 237,000 | 203,000 | 1.2
ellisisland.org – 229,000 | 149,000 | 1.5
familytreemaker.com – 206,000 | 126,000 | 1.6
deathindexes.com – 190,000 | 136,000 | 1.4
tribalpages.com – 188,000 | 83,900 | 2.2
distantcousin.com – 176,000 | 136,000 | 1.3
searchforancestors.com – 166,000 | 147,000 | 1.1
linkpendium.com – 163,000 | 134,000 | 1.2
cousinconnect.com – 155,000 | 131,000 | 1.2
ancestry.co.uk – 152,000 | 104,000 | 1.5
census-online.com – 149,000 | 94,000 | 1.6
politicalgraveyard.com – 138,000 | 121,000 | 1.1
daddezio.com – 134,000 | 107,000 | 1.3
familybuilder.com – 134,000 | 55,600 | 2.4
genealogybank.com – 134,000 | 134,000 | 1
genwed.com – 134,000 | 104,000 | 1.3
us-census.org – 129,000 | 91,500 | 1.4
familyhistory101.com – 126,000 | 104,000 | 1.2
kindredkonnections.com – 126,000 | 102,000 | 1.2
obitcentral.com – 120,000 | 106,000 | 1.1
gencircles.com – 117,000 | 79,600 | 1.5
ourstory.com – 113,000 | 23,100 | 4.9
censusfinder.com – 107,000 | 87,500 | 1.2
surnameweb.org – 105,000 | 96,100 | 1.1
jewishgen.org – 103,000 | 71,400 | 1.4
genebase.com – 98,300 | 85,800 | 1.1
eogn.com – 97,200 | 46,400 | 2.1
deadfred.com – 97,000 | 76,000 | 1.3
kindredtrails.com – 96,100 | 71,400 | 1.3
familyhistory.com – 87,200 | 72,100 | 1.2
geneanet.org – 80,200 | 41,400 | 1.9
idreamof.com – 78,200 | 60,500 | 1.3
genealogybuff.com – 77,400 | 61,800 | 1.3
stevemorse.org – 73,500 | 53,200 | 1.4
genhomepage.com – 69,800 | 20,500 | 3.4
ancientfaces.com – 68,300 | 55,900 | 1.2
genealogylinks.net – 67,300 | 52,700 | 1.3
searchyourgenealogy.com – 65,500 | 61,000 | 1.1
familytreemagazine.com – 63,400 | 42,900 | 1.5
genealogy.org – 63,400 | 49,400 | 1.4
ancestry.ca – 53,900 | 26,900 | 2
familytreelegends.com – 50,500 | 37,400 | 1.4
immigrantships.net – 46,400 | 38,300 | 1.2
familytree.com – 44,900 | 41,500 | 1.1
ancestralfindings.com – 44,800 | 28,700 | 1.6
olivetreegenealogy.com – 43,900 | 36,700 | 1.2
ellisislandrecords.org – 42,800 | 39,500 | 1.1
storyofmylife.com – 42,800 | 5,770 | 7.4
dnaancestryproject.com – 41,100 | 38,900 | 1,1
obitsarchive.com – 37,500 | 23,200 | 1.6
ancestry.com.au – 35,200 | 29,500 | 1.2
familydeathrecords.com – 34,800 | 33,000 | 1.1
familybirthrecords.com – 34,500 | 31,200 | 1.1
legacyfamilytree.com – 32,700 | 20,900 | 1.6
newspaperabstracts.com – 30,300 | 26,100 | 1.2
theshipslist.com – 29,500 | 18,300 | 1.6
familymarriagerecords.com – 28,600 | 25,000 | 1.1
family-reunion.com – 28,400 | 25,800 | 1.1
geneasearch.com – 26,900 | 22,300 | 1.2
genetree.com – 25,000 | 7,070 | 3.5
rootsmagic.com – 24,600 | 14,400 | 1.7
genealogysearch.org – 24,200 | 20,000 | 1.2
familytreeguide.com – 24,100 | 23,600 | 1
findmypast.com – 23,900 | 17,100 | 1.4
raogk.org – 22,100 | 13,000 | 1.7
gendir.com – 20,600 | 19,300 | 1.1
smgf.org – 20,000 | 12,900 | 1.6
worldroots.com – 18,900 | 17,800 | 1.1
webtree.com – 17,400 | 11,900 | 1.5
noktree.com – 13,900 | 11,500 | 1.2
ancestorguide.com – 13,800 | 10,400 | 1.3
kincafe.com – 13,500 | 10,500 | 1.3
uftree.com – 13,100 | 12,700 | 1
familysearchlabs.org – 12,800 | 5,700 | 2.2
ancquest.com – 12,000 | 3,650 | 3.3
familytreesearcher.com – 11,500 | 11,300 | 1
itsourtree.com – 11,500 | 7,140 | 1.6
23andme.com – 10,400 | 8,590 | 1.2
everton.com – 10,100 | 7,650 | 1.3
allvitalrecords.com – 8,940 | 7,020 | 1.3
lineages.com – 8,870 | 8,410 | 1.1
dearmyrtle.com – 8,780 | 7,160 | 1.2
dnaheritage.com – 8,430 | 4,660 | 1.8
makemyfamilytree.com – 8,080 | 8,080 | 1
werelate.org – 7,210 | 6,330 | 1.1
progenygenealogy.com – 6,210 | 6,210 | 1
famiva.com – 6,060 | 3,360 | 1.8
genesreunited.com – 6,060 | 4,080 | 1.5
phpgedview.net – 5,870 | 5,600 | 1
kindo.com – 5,530 | 4,940 | 1.1
rootssearch.net – 5,010 | 3,300 | 1.5
yourfamily.com – 5,010 | 4,590 | 1.1
whollygenes.com – 4,780 | 4,530 | 1.1
gjenvick.com – 4,690 | 4,450 | 1.1
familychronicle.com – 4,540 | 4,540 | 1
familymilitaryrecords.com – 3,810 | 3,420 | 1.1
raynorshyn.com – 3,630 | 3,630 | 1
accessible.com – 3,470 | 1,940 | 1.8
genealogy-search-advice.com – 3,380 | 3,050 | 1.1
gensource.com – 3,320 | 3,040 | 1.1
familycensusrecords.com – 3,290 | 3,290 | 1
genealogue.com – 3,160 | 3,160 | 1
deathrecordsobituarysearch.com – 3,090 | 2,800 | 1.1
wikitree.org – 3,010 | 3,010 | 1
amiglia.com – 3,000 | 2,480 | 1.2
genserv.com – 3,000 | 1,630 | 1.8
ged4web.com – 2,520 | 2,010 | 1.3
onefamilytree.com – 2,270 | 1,360 | 1.7
clooz.com – 2,140 | 1,660 | 1.3
mortalityschedules.com – 2,080 | 1,720 | 1.2
sharedtree.com – 2,040 | 2,040 | 1
lifeonrecord.com – 2,000 | 2,000 | 1
ancestryconnections.com – 1,690 | 1,600 | 1.1
ancestrymagazine.com – 1,640 | 1,640 | 1
leisterpro.com – 1,600 | 1,600 | 1
genbox.com – 1,180 | 932 | 1.3
starkeffect.com – 897 | 897 | 1
yourpastconnections.com – 890 | 453 | 2
mudcreeksoftware.com – 701 | 701 | 1
ancestralauthor.com – 663 | 663 | 1
famtreesoftware.com – 545 | 545 | 1
gedhtree.com – 447 | 447 | 1
macgenealogy.org – 354 | 354 | 1
genealogyguys.com – 315 | 315 | 1
geditcom.com – 217 | 217 | 1
dorotree.com – 182 | 182 | 1
family-historian.co.uk – 182 | 182 | 1
pedigreesoft.com – 182 | 182 | 1
thoughtfulcreations.com – 120 | 120 | 1
famillion.com – 106 | 106 | 1
bkwin.com – 0 | 0 | 0
famware.com – 0 | 0 | 0
gendesigner.com – 0 | 0 | 0
myheredis.com – 0 | 0 | 0
pastplaces.com – 0 | 0 | 0
winfamily.com – 0 | 0 | 0
zooof.com – 0 | 0 | 0
genealogy-software-review.com – no data
genuki.org – no data
livinggenealogy.com – no data

Blogs / Podcasts / News

This category includes top-level domains that contain family history related blogs, podcasts, or primarily contain news.  My lists of blogs is not very complete and does not contain blogs that do not have their own domain name.  (Because traffic data for blogs hosted on other sites is not available).

Blogs / Podcasts / News

Blogs / Podcasts / News

Here is the data for the Blogs / Podcasts / News category:

Blogs / Podcasts / News – visits/mo | uniques/mo | avg-visits/mo
eogn.com – 97,200 | 46,400 | 2.1
olivetreegenealogy.com – 43,900 | 36,700 | 1.2
dearmyrtle.com – 8,780 | 7,160 | 1.2
genealogue.com – 3,160 | 3,160 | 1
genealogyguys.com – 315 | 315 | 1

Community

Sites in this category primarily offer a community for family historians or genealogists, rather than being a search-based or social networking site.

Community

Community

Here is the data for the Community category:

Community – visits/mo | uniques/mo | avg-visits/mo
genealogy.com – 2.19 million | 1.16 million | 1.9
rootsweb.com – 1.43 million | 687,000 | 2.1
usgennet.org – 313,000 | 213,000 | 1.5
cousinconnect.com – 155,000 | 131,000 | 1.2
daddezio.com – 134,000 | 107,000 | 1.3
us-census.org – 129,000 | 91,500 | 1.4
jewishgen.org – 103,000 | 71,400 | 1.4
geneanet.com – 80,200 | 41,400 | 1.9
genhomepage.com – 69,800 | 20,500 | 3.4
familytree.com – 44,900 | 41,500 | 1.1
family-reunion.com – 28,400 | 25,800 | 1.1
raogk.org – 22,100 | 13,000 | 1.7
gendir.com – 20,600 | 19,300 | 1.1
lineages.com – 8,870 | 8,410 | 1.1
makemyfamilytree.com – 8,080 | 8,080 | 1
werelate.org – 7,210 | 6,330 | 1.1
yourfamily.com – 5,010 | 4,590 | 1.1
genealogy-search-advice.com – 3,380 | 3,050 | 1.1
genuki.org – no data

Directories

Sites in this category are primarily lists of links to other sites.

Directories

Directories

Here is the raw data for the Directories category:

Directories – visits/mo | uniques/mo | avg-visits/mo
usgenweb.org – 325,000 | 133,000 | 2.4
accessgenealogy.com – 295,000 | 222,000 | 1.3
cyndislist.com – 269,000 | 183,000 | 1.5
linkpendium.com – 163,000 | 134,000 | 1.2
census-online.com – 149,000 | 94,000 | 1.6
familyhistory101.com – 126,000 | 104,000 | 1.2
kindredtrails.com – 96,100 | 71,400 | 1.3
genhomepage.com – 69,800 | 20,500 | 3.4
genealogylinks.net – 67,300 | 52,700 | 1.3
geneasearch.com – 26,900 | 22,300 | 1.2
genealogysearch.org – 24,200 | 20,000 | 1.2
gendir.com – 20,600 | 19,300 | 1.1
gensource.com – 3,320 | 3,040 | 1.1

DNA

This category includes sites that focus primarily on DNA-based research.

DNA

DNA

Here is the raw data for the DNA category:

DNA – visits/mo | uniques/mo | avg-visits/mo
familytreedna.com – 241,000 | 106,000 | 2.3
genebase.com – 98,300 | 85,800 | 1.1
dnaancestryproject.com – 41,100 | 38,900 | 1,1
smgf.org – 20,000 | 12,900 | 1.6
23andme.com – 10,400 | 8,590 | 1.2
dnaheritage.com – 8,430 | 4,660 | 1.8

Magazines

These are sites that are associated with a printed magazine focused on family history.

Magazines

Magazines

Here is the actua traffic data for the Magazines category:

Magazines – visits/mo | uniques/mo | avg-visits/mo
familytreemagazine.com – 63,400 | 42,900 | 1.5
everton.com – 10,100 | 7,650 | 1.3
familychronicle.com – 4,540 | 4,540 | 1
ancestrymagazine.com – 1,640 | 1,640 | 1

Online Family Trees

In this category, I include sites whose primary focus is in allowing users to either create or upload their family tree to the site and then share with others.  There is a fair bit of overlap between this category and the Social/Family Networking category, but sites in this category put more emphasis on publishing a tree than on sharing other types of information.

Online Family Trees

Online Family Trees

Here is the actual data for the Online Family Trees category:

Online Family Trees – visits/mo | uniques/mo | avg-visits/mo
ancestry.com – 15.3 million | 4.9 million | 3.1
myheritage.com – 2.47 million | 923,000 | 2.7
genealogy.com – 2.19 million | 1.16 million | 1.9
rootsweb.com – 1.43 million | 687,000 | 2.1
geni.com – 1.34 million | 397,000 | 3.4
familylink.com – 546,000 | 308,000 | 1.8  (now familyhistorylink.com)
ancestry.co.uk – 152,000 | 104,000 | 1.5
onegreatfamily.com – 421,000 | 325,000 | 1.3
tribalpages.com – 188,000 | 83,900 | 2.2
kindredkonnections.com – 126,000 | 102,000 | 1.2
gencircles.com – 117,000 | 79,600 | 1.5
geneanet.org – 80,200 | 41,400 | 1.9
ancestry.ca – 53,900 | 26,900 | 2
ancestry.com.au – 35,200 | 29,500 | 1.2
genetree.com – 25,000 | 7,070 | 3.5
familytreeguide.com – 24,100 | 23,600 | 1
findmypast.com – 23,900 | 17,100 | 1.4
worldroots.com – 18,900 | 17,800 | 1.1
webtree.com – 17,400 | 11,900 | 1.5
noktree.com – 13,900 | 11,500 | 1.2
kincafe.com – 13,500 | 10,500 | 1.3
genesreunited.com – 6,060 | 4,080 | 1.5
kindo.com – 5,530 | 4,940 | 1.1
wikitree.org – 3,010 | 3,010 | 1
amiglia.com – 3,000 | 2,480 | 1.2
onefamilytree.com – 2,270 | 1,360 | 1.7
pedigreesoft.com – 182 | 182 | 1
famillion.com – 106 | 106 | 1
zooof.com – 0 | 0 | 0

Search Records

This category includes sites focused mainly on searching of historical documents or records.

Search

Search

And here is the actual data for the Search category:

Search – visits/mo | uniques/mo | avg-visits/mo
ancestry.com – 15.3 million | 4.9 million | 3.1
familysearch.org – 3.02 million | 990,000 | 3.1
genealogy.com – 2.19 million | 1.16 million | 1.9
findagrave.com – 1.72 million | 643,000 | 2.7
rootsweb.com – 1.43 million | 687,000 | 2.1
footnote.com – 1.03 million | 790,000 | 1.3
newspaperarchive.com – 976,000 | 805,000 | 1.2
archives.gov – 822,000 | 677,000 | 1.2
worldvitalrecords.com – 625,000 | 412,000 | 1.5
ancestorhunt.com – 529,000 | 437,000 | 1.2
heritagequestonline.com – 438,000 | 111,000 | 3.9
onegreatfamily.com – 421,000 | 325,000 | 1.3
interment.net – 406,000 | 288,000 | 1.4
genealogytoday.com – 333,000 | 295,000 | 1.1
vitalrec.com – 237,000 | 203,000 | 1.2
ellisisland.org – 229,000 | 149,000 | 1.5
deathindexes.com – 190,000 | 136,000 | 1.4
distantcousin.com – 176,000 | 136,000 | 1.3
searchforancestors.com – 166,000 | 147,000 | 1.1
ancestry.co.uk – 152,000 | 104,000 | 1.5
politicalgraveyard.com – 138,000 | 121,000 | 1.1
genealogybank.com – 134,000 | 134,000 | 1
genwed.com – 134,000 | 104,000 | 1.3
us-census.org – 129,000 | 91,500 | 1.4
kindredkonnections.com – 126,000 | 102,000 | 1.2
obitcentral.com – 120,000 | 106,000 | 1.1
censusfinder.com – 107,000 | 87,500 | 1.2
surnameweb.org – 105,000 | 96,100 | 1.1
deadfred.com – 97,000 | 76,000 | 1.3
familyhistory.com – 87,200 | 72,100 | 1.2
geneanet.org – 80,200 | 41,400 | 1.9
idreamof.com – 78,200 | 60,500 | 1.3
genealogybuff.com – 77,400 | 61,800 | 1.3
stevemorse.org – 73,500 | 53,200 | 1.4
searchyourgenealogy.com – 65,500 | 61,000 | 1.1
genealogy.org – 63,400 | 49,400 | 1.4
ancestry.ca – 53,900 | 26,900 | 2
immigrantships.net – 46,400 | 38,300 | 1.2
ancestralfindings.com – 44,800 | 28,700 | 1.6
olivetreegenealogy.com – 43,900 | 36,700 | 1.2
ellisislandrecords.org – 42,800 | 39,500 | 1.1
obitsarchive.com – 37,500 | 23,200 | 1.6
ancestry.com.au – 35,200 | 29,500 | 1.2
familydeathrecords.com – 34,800 | 33,000 | 1.1
familybirthrecords.com – 34,500 | 31,200 | 1.1
newspaperabstracts.com – 30,300 | 26,100 | 1.2
theshipslist.com – 29,500 | 18,300 | 1.6
familymarriagerecords.com – 28,600 | 25,000 | 1.1
genealogysearch.org – 24,200 | 20,000 | 1.2
findmypast.com – 23,900 | 17,100 | 1.4
ancestorguide.com – 13,800 | 10,400 | 1.3
familytreesearcher.com – 11,500 | 11,300 | 1
allvitalrecords.com – 8,940 | 7,020 | 1.3
rootssearch.net – 5,010 | 3,300 | 1.5
gjenvick.com – 4,690 | 4,450 | 1.1
familymilitaryrecords.com – 3,810 | 3,420 | 1.1
accessible.com – 3,470 | 1,940 | 1.8
familycensusrecords.com – 3,290 | 3,290 | 1
deathrecordsobituarysearch.com – 3,090 | 2,800 | 1.1
genserv.com – 3,000 | 1,630 | 1.8
mortalityschedules.com – 2,080 | 1,720 | 1.2
ancestryconnections.com – 1,690 | 1,600 | 1.1
yourpastconnections.com – 890 | 453 | 2
pastplaces.com – 0 | 0 | 0

Social / Family Networking

This category includes sites that could be called “social networking” sites and whose primary purpose is to post/share information with other family members.  These sites are also typically newer sites with more dynamic user interfaces, referred to as “Web 2.0″ sites.

Social / Family Networking

Social / Family Networking

Here is the actual data for this category:

Social/Family Networking – visits/mo | uniques/mo | avg-visits/mo
ancestry.com – 15.3 million | 4.9 million | 3.1
myfamily.com – 6.66 million | 987,000 | 6.7
myheritage.com – 2.47 million | 923,000 | 2.7
geni.com – 1.34 million | 397,000 | 3.4
tribalpages.com – 188,000 | 83,900 | 2.2
familybuilder.com – 134,000 | 55,600 | 2.4
ourstory.com – 113,000 | 23,100 | 4.9
ancientfaces.com – 68,300 | 55,900 | 1.2
storyofmylife.com – 42,800 | 5,770 | 7.4
genetree.com – 25,000 | 7,070 | 3.5
kincafe.com – 13,500 | 10,500 | 1.3
itsourtree.com – 11,500 | 7,140 | 1.6
famiva.com – 6,060 | 3,360 | 1.8
kindo.com – 5,530 | 4,940 | 1.1
amiglia.com – 3,000 | 2,480 | 1.2
lifeonrecord.com – 2,000 | 2,000 | 1
livinggenealogy.com – no data

Software / Tools

The final category includes sites focused primarily on genealogy software or tools.  Note that comparing web traffic for these sites doesn’t necessarily tell you anything about the market share or prevalence of the associated software products.

Software / Tools

Software / Tools

Finally, here is the raw traffic data for the Software/Tools category:

Software/Tools – visits/mo | uniques/mo | avg-visits/mo
familysearch.org – PAF – 3.02 million | 990,000 | 3.1
myheritage.com – 2.47 million | 923,000 | 2.7
genealogy.com – Family Tree Maker – 2.19 million | 1.16 million | 1.9
familytreemaker.com – 206,000 | 126,000 | 1.6
familytreelegends.com – 50,500 | 37,400 | 1.4
legacyfamilytree.com – 32,700 | 20,900 | 1.6
rootsmagic.com – 24,600 | 14,400 | 1.7
uftree.com – 13,100 | 12,700 | 1
familysearchlabs.org – 12,800 | 5,700 | 2.2
ancquest.com – Ancestral Quest, PAFWiz – 12,000 | 3,650 | 3.3
progenygenealogy.com – 6,210 | 6,210 | 1
phpgedview.net – 5,870 | 5,600 | 1
whollygenes.com – 4,780 | 4,530 | 1.1
raynorshyn.com – 3,630 | 3,630 | 1
ged4web.com – 2,520 | 2,010 | 1.3
clooz.com – 2,140 | 1,660 | 1.3
leisterpro.com – 1,600 | 1,600 | 1
genbox.com – 1,180 | 932 | 1.3
starkeffect.com – 897 | 897 | 1
mudcreeksoftware.com – 701 | 701 | 1
ancestralauthor.com – 663 | 663 | 1
famtreesoftware.com – 545 | 545 | 1
gedhtree.com – 447 | 447 | 1
macgenealogy.org – 354 | 354 | 1
geditcom.com – 217 | 217 | 1
dorotree.com – 182 | 182 | 1
family-historian.co.uk – 182 | 182 | 1
thoughtfulcreations.com – 120 | 120 | 1
bkwin.com – 0 | 0 | 0
famware.com – 0 | 0 | 0
gendesigner.com – 0 | 0 | 0
myheredis.com – 0 | 0 | 0
winfamily.com – 0 | 0 | 0
genealogy-software-review.com – no data

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Those of us who are passionate about family history spend a lot of our time looking backwards.  Our entire focus is on learning about our family’s history, seeing how far back we can go and how many details we can uncover.

But how often do we reverse this, and look forward instead?  When was the last time that you stopped to think about your descendants?  I’m not talking about your kids or even your grandchildren.  I’m thinking instead about the descendants that we’ll never meet, like great-grandchildren and their kids.

What would these descendants want to know about you?  What aspects of your daily life, which you might find tedious, might they find fascinating?  What significant pieces of your life are simply not captured by your “document trail”–the birth certificates, marriage records, etc. that will define you 100 years from now?

It’s much more fun to look back than to look forward.  I love staring into the eyes of ancestors in an old photo and wondering what their lives were like.  And the life of a lumberjack in Minnesota in 1894 is infinitely more interesting to me than the details of a typical white collar person’s life in 2008.

But it’s a mistake to only look backwards.  For starters, our lives are a lot more interesting than we think.  We’re so busy just living from day to day that we forget that our lives really are adventures.  That epic backpacking trip through Europe, or the story of how we quit our day job to start a new business—those are wonderful stories that need to be told!

Our lives are also filled with minutiae that our descendants will likely find fascinating.  As common and straightforward as our lives seem today, future generations will be very curious to learn about how we lived our lives—because their lives are likely to be so different.

Just imagine what you’d give for the chance to ask a dozen questions of one of your ancestors.  The simplest questions would yield great insights and bring these ancestors to life.  Questions like: Why did you marry your spouse?  What are you most proud of?  Who were your heroes?

The answer to any one of these questions would be something that we’d likely treasure, and it would bring an ancestor to life in a way that no census page ever will.

Our own answers to these questions would be no less a treasure for future generations.  Every little detail about our lives that we can leave a record of, and every artifact that we manage to preserve and pass down, will likely be equally treasured by some future family historian as they look back through time and try to make sense of our life.

So here’s a little laundry list of some of the things that you might think about leaving behind for future generations:

  • Answers to simple questions like:  What do you believe in?  What are you passionate about?
  • Diary/journal entries
  • A list of all the places that you’ve lived, with dates
  • A list of the cars that you’ve owned/driven
  • A list of all the people that have made an impact on your life    -
  • A short summary of your best friends
  • A list of all the jobs that you’ve ever held
  • A description of how you spend your leisure time
  • A list of some of your favorite things/places/people
  • A list of your biggest pet peeves
  • Personal letters
  • Birthday and holiday cards
  • Funeral and wedding programs
  • Ticket stubs
  • A treasured book
  • A favorite tool
  • Photos—lots of photos
  • Home videos
  • A recording of your voice
  • A complete list of all the traveling that you’ve done
  • A description of a typical day at your job
  • A dozen secrets that you wouldn’t share with any living relatives
  • Your biggest disappointment or heartbreak
  • Your greatest regret
  • A list of the five most significant events in your life
  • A list of your greatest talents
  • A description of your most embarassing moment
  • A description of some piece of technology and how you use it in your life
  • A description of your morning ritual(s)
  • A description of your evening ritual(s)

I could go on all day.  And likely you could, too.  The point is that there are many things that you could so easily leave behind for your descendants.  It takes such little effort to create just a few of these artifacts, and they would likely become great treasures to some future family historian.  So what are you waiting for?

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Here’s the genealogical equivalent to the age-old “boxers or briefs” question—when it comes to family history, does your passion lie with finding ancestors, or finding descendants?  Both pursuits have their own unique rewards and particular challenges.

Many people get hooked on family history as they try to flesh out a chart of their direct ancestors.  As kids, we fill in grandparents, ask about great-grandparents and quickly fill in the first few levels of the basic ancestry charts.  It’s a huge thrill to completely fill in that one-page, five-generation chart.

For people who are driven by the search for ancestors, the ultimate goal is often to identify and record as many direct ancestors as possible and to go back as far as possible.  We’ll spend months banging on a particular brick wall until we eventually uncover a new ancestor, or add specific dates and places where we previously only had a name.

Or we might be driven more by the search for descendants.  We pick one of our ancestral families, often starting with our own surname, and we do our best to fill in a complete tree of descendants, starting as far back as possible.

For descendants-focused family historians, the ultimate goal is to create a tree that contains absolutely every descendant of a particular family.  We get energized by reconnecting with long-lost cousins and by fleshing out branches of the family that we didn’t know anything about.

Me, I’m more of a descendants-guy than an ancestors-guy.  This is probably because I come from a large family (my Sexton line) that has always been close and because we are such good storytellers.  I also love the idea of putting an ancestor in some sort of historical context, by learning as much as possible about their immediate family.

Both quests—ancestors or descendants—are never-ending.  We can always keep pushing the search for ancestors, as we go back farther and farther.  And, building a list of descendants, there are always new babies being born and cousins growing up and getting married.

Whichever aspect we tend to focus on, there is a lot of benefit in switching occasionally between ancestors-focused and descendants-focused.  Learning more about an ancestor’s siblings and family can often help us push our records even further back.  And we can often learn more about a tree of descendants by finding out more about the ancestors on both sides of the family.

In reality, most of us are a mixture of both types of family historian.  Rare is the completely clean .GED file that goes in one direction only.  We often start out by exploring direct ancestors, but eventually get interested in the families that these ancestors came from.  So we start “going sideways”, learning as much as we can about the entire family.

But when it comes down to it, if I had to answer the ancestors-or-descendants question directly, I’d have to say—descendants.  How about you?

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Well, here we go.  I’m going to start this blog with a post talking about why I love family history so much and why I’ve decided to start a blog.

The first thing to share about myself is that I’m outrageously passionate about my own family history.  Oddly enough, family history and genealogy seem to be hobbies that people don’t get involved in half-heartedly.  It seems that everyone I hear about who is interested in family history could qualify as being obsessed.  I certainly fall into that category.

Why is this?  Why don’t most of us just list genealogy as yet another interest in a long list?  Why does it grab us the way it does and then try to steal every minute of free time that we have?

The easy answer might be that it’s because of our personality type.  The sort of person that is attracted to family history to start with tends to be the sort of detail-oriented person who gets excited about collecting and cataloging family data and information.

But I believe that the passion goes a little deeper than this.  Most of us who get interested in genealogy start out by being passionate about history in general.  Then, as we start collecting information about our own ancestors and we see where they fit into an historical narrative, history comes alive for us.  We start with the stories about our parents or grandparents that we’ve heard over the years and we then imagine these stories playing out in the times and places that we read about in history books.

And because of our connection to our ancestors—a very permanent and direct connection–we become suddenly connected with history itself.  And this connection draws us back into history in a way that no history book ever can.  It’s as if the two-dimensional characters in the history books have become three-dimensional, fleshed out with names and faces that we know personally.  Some would say that it’s even as if we go back in time ourselves, to live within our ancestors and see history as they themselves saw it.

So this passion is more than just a compulsion to collect, organize and publish our family data.  It has more to do with touching some sort of energy that spans time and makes us all the same, regardless of what century we live in.  It’s about feeling this energy inside of ourselves and realizing that we are just another actor in this ongoing story.  And as we celebrate our ancestors’ lives and everything that they learned and love, we learn to celebrate our own lives with the same spirit, knowing that we come from them and that they are somehow still a part of us.

If we have children of our own, all of these family stories and the arc of our ancestors’ lives inspire us to live out the stories of a new generation.  We have a sense of what it means for someone to live out a long life, rich in love, and so we do our best to live our own lives as richly as possible and pass that same love on to our children.

I confess that I’ve been completely consumed with this passion for family history, as many of us have.  I grew up hearing so many wonderful stories about my grandparents and their families—and their stories made the past that they lived in come alive for me.  I’m doing my best now to preserve what I’ve heard by gathering up these stories and photos, so that these ancestors won’t be entirely forgotten when my own generation has passed on.  And, sooner rather than later, I need to start collecting the stories of my own generation, to pass them on to my children.

I’ve decided to start blogging because of my great passion for all of this.  I want to share my passion with others out there who feel as I do about the joy that we get from engaging in this pastime.  I have so many ideas about ways that we can collect, enjoy, and share all of these memories.  I’m very eager to share them with others and to in turn gather new ideas that will help me do an even better job of preserving and sharing our precious family heritage.

These stories and this energy that we get from our ancestors is our heritage.  It is something that has been passed on to us not just through a packet of photos that we find in a closet, but by virtue of the lives that our ancestors lived and all that they taught us.  If we honor them, we will cherish these memories and do our best to preserve them.  We have become our parents generation, and we have in turn become the keepers of these memories and of all that they taught us.  For my part, I honor my family members who are no longer with us.  And I in turn feel honored to be able to pass what I know of them on to my own children and to the next generation.

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