Here is the CB Post article:
Carleton researchers launch Canadian genealogy survey in Cape Breton
Published on July 26, 2011
SYDNEY — Two Carleton University researchers have launched an online survey that seeks to understand the surge of interest in genealogy/family history.
The first stage of this national project is being piloted in Nova Scotia, starting in Cape Breton before moving on to the mainland.
Genealogy is one of the fastest growing leisure activities in Canada and elsewhere. Current estimates suggest that between 20 per cent and 25 per cent of Canadians actively pursue genealogy/family history projects.
“The Canadian Genealogical Survey attempts, through a self-administered online survey, to gauge the nature of the phenomenon and its importance for those who undertake to travel to and visit sites of genealogical resources as well as those who do much of their work via the Internet,” says New Waterford native and East Margaree resident Del Muise, emeritus professor of history at Carleton University in Ottawa. “Our investigation seeks to understand the behaviour of genealogists in their research activities.
“With estimates of some 25,000,000 people in North America being able to trace their families back to Nova Scotia during the past 400 years, Nova Scotia seemed like the best place to start our data collection.”
Muise is joined in the study by Leighann Neilson, associate professor of marketing at Carleton University’s Sprott School of Business and a family historian herself.
“The survey will likely have implications for the many museums, archives and local libraries that have seen an influx of visitors seeking information on their family’s history,” she says. “We hope to gather information on who’s doing family history today and what resources they like to use. A key feature of our research will be to assess the inter-relationships between web-based research and onsite research.”
According to Muise, Cape Bretoners are active in tracing their roots through online social networking sites like Facebook as well as through local institutions such as the Highland Village Museum and the Beaton Institute at Cape Breton University.
“Cape Breton is a very highly developed area for geneology,” he says, but adds that the rising in interest in geneology isn’t restricted to any specific areas of the country.
“It’s everywhere. We did a different survey on Canadian’s attitudes toward the past, asking them what they felt was important to them; well over 50 per cent said they were keeping materials to pass on. On another question, 20 per cent had done actual work over the past 12 months on geneological research.
“It’s huge. And there’s no dicernible difference on a provincial basis.”
The typical person involved in geneological research, says Muise, is over 40, with a big spike at 55 to 65, the baby boomer generation.
“From the national survey, we learned that people didn’t normally get excited about geneology until middle age,” he says. “And the numbers are probably going to grow as people become more active (in searching out their roots.)
Muise and Neilson will be visiting many local centres for genealogy research this summer, promoting the survey. The survey is available online now at: cusurveycentre.ca/gensurvey. For those interested in learning about the results of the survey, the researchers have created a blog, www.genealogyincanada.blogspot.com, where reports about the survey’s progress will be posted. Family historians, librarians, archivists and others interested in genealogy will be able to comment and offer opinions on the results.
“In a post-modern world, people don’t have a firm sense of being rooted,” says Muise, “so they pursue geneolpgy as a way of identifying an understandable past. One of the things we are trying to figure out is what people get out of it, and how will they pass it down.”