How much time and money do you spend researching your ancestors? We surveyed family historians recently to see how much commitment it takes to build the family tree.
First of all we looked at when they started researching their family history. The common belief is that family historians are typically aged 50 or over. For example, according to Ancestry Insider more than half of the attendees at the annual RootsTech genealogy conference in Salt Lake City are over 55 years old.
According to our survey however, the average age of starting to research family history is 40 years old, with 42% of our respondents having started before they were 40 – and a few beginning before they were 20. So, while family history is typically considered a hobby for the retired, there is clearly some appetite for it in younger generations – look at the growing popularity of groups like NextGen, for example, who work to foster an interest in family history among the “next generation”.
We found that family historians spend more than 12 hours per week on their research, with more than a third spending 2 hours a day on average. 11% donate more than 4 hours a day to their hobby! This includes time spent online in sites like Findmypast, FamilySearch and Ancestry, plus working in libraries or attending local groups.
And family historians spend $360 per year on their research on average. Most of the large online genealogy services charge around $100-200 for an annual subscription. Our survey respondents are either subscribing to more than one of these services or paying for extra records, society attendance fees or travel.
The amount of time and money that family history research requires, possibly explains why most people wait until they are 40 or older before starting. Parents with young children will struggle to find the time (or energy) to dig through census records, birth certificates and black-and-white photos for clues about their ancestors. But once the kids are older and more independent, those same parents will look for hobbies to fill their newly-found free time – genealogy is one of them.
Our mission at Twile is to make family history more engaging and accessible for the younger generations now. If you’re keen to get the rest of your family interested in your hobby, import your years of research into Twile and share your timeline with them, for free. Your commitment so far means that they will be able to explore your research easily, minimising the time and cost to them. They can contribute their own memories and photos too. Sign up for free at www.twile.com.
How does your family history research compare with these numbers? Add a comment below to tell us how much time you spend each week on your research or when you started showing an interest…