Family history, since the advent of the Cook Bi-centennial in Australia, has changed from the interest of a select few to become one of the most popular pastimes of Australians. Yet in spite of the dramatic increase in membership of and numbers family history societies, the changes in library and archive practices and collections to meet the demands of those wanting to research their family history, and the vast numbers of subscribers to commercial family history websites, little is known about the interests, research practices and make up of Australian genealogists.

A survey of Australian genealogists has been launched to examine these questions as part of a master’s research program at the University of New England – School of Humanities.

Entitled ‘Who Are the Genealogists of Australia’ the survey asks genealogists about their motivations for beginning their research and why they continue to conduct their research. They are also asked about their research interests and how and where they conduct their research and why they make those choices. The survey also investigates their plans for the product of their research. Finally, genealogists are asked about their demographic characteristics.

In undertaking this survey, one substantial problem exists. That is, there is no census of Australian genealogists that enables a representative statistical sample to be easily taken. Genealogists practice their craft in many different ways and locations. Surveying them in any one place will not achieve the broad representation needed. Therefore, for a comprehensive result to be achieved it is important that as wide a range of participants as possible be obtained.

Your help in undertaking the survey will positively assist in developing the comprehensive picture aimed for in this research project.

The survey is open for participation until 30 November 2009, and can be found here