17 June 2009

Forbes Magazine: Genealogy doesn't exist

Genealogy does not exist, according to Forbes Magazine.

Tracing the Tribe receives many interesting items from Forbes and looks forward to seeing what's new in the best places to live, best vacation spots and the like.

My heart raced a bit when I saw "To have a hobby is human: Extracurricular activities are what help us escape as well as engage," by Matthew Woolsey.

Wow! Genealogy has made it into Forbes, I thought.

No such luck. Neither the main article nor another page with many other articles mention or even hint at genealogy or family history even once.

In the list of an additional 10 or so articles, the first is "Hitting the Wall," when a hobby turns into an obsession, the body -- and mind -- can give out. Hmmm, I thought hobby=obsession, wall=brick wall - maybe genealogy is in there. No way. It's about sports.

In the list are track driving, making moonshine, a home renovator, defunct airlines' memorabilia, hobbies long-gone (Perhaps they stuck genealogy in there? No.) and hobbies of the future (Nope).

Finally, to add insult to injury, there is an even longer list of 26 more hobbies from A to Z, written by experts in the field. Topics range from Aviation to Zen Meditation. Okay, that looked promising, but my hopes were again dashed on the rocks of disappointment.

Guess what hobby isn't listed? You win, if you note that the G word is missing. I also looked for F for family history? No. A for ancestry? No. R for roots? No.

Back in 1995 - 15 years ago - American Demographics (Dec 96 vol. 17 Issue 12 p42) indicated that "It is estimated that genealogy is the hobby of more than 100 million people in the United States."

Maritz Marketing Research (1995) indicated that more than 45% of American adults, or 87.5 million people are interested in genealogy; almost 14 million were "involved a great deal, and another 74 million "somewhat interested."

How many of us currently researching genealogy today were into this in 1995? Thus, we can see that the annual increase in genealogy as a popular pastime must be much much higher than this 1995 article indicated.

Ten years later, according to this 2005 posting that focused on genealogy searchers in the UK and the US, and claimed that the UK segment had increased by 44% in that year alone. It indicated that genealogy research occupied 7% of UK and 8% of US internet users.

The Forbes non-story included a neat chart of the top five hobbies by participation. It's topped by scrapbooking, 18 million people; cross-stitch and embroidery, crochet, apparel and fashion sewing, down to art and drawing, 12.1 million people. The next chart lists the top five hobbies by spending, ranging from scrapbooking, $2.25 billion down to quilting, a mere $1.17 billion. These handy charts were from the Annual Craft & Hobby Association Attitude and Usage Study for 2008.

How can the genealogy community make Forbes sit up and listen?

Commenting on the absence of genealogy in this compilation of articles might help. I have already commented on the article online and encourage Tracing the Tribe readers to do the same. Here's the main article. Here's the page with the additional non-gen articles.

To leave a comment at Forbes, you must register (it's free).


  1. Yeah, I also noticed this. This does not in any way reflect the immense popularity of our hobby and passion. If I remember correctly, a few years ago someone wrote that genealogy was the most "googled" topic right after pornography.

  2. Anonymous9:15 AM

    The Forbes author realised that genealogy is not just an obsession, but in fact an addiction with no known cure and not wishing to inflict that upon the readers kindly excluded it? ;-)

  3. Crystal11:16 AM

    Maybe author didn't know if he should include us in the hobby catagory or send us to Enthusists Anon? Or list us as plain Nuts. LOL. (all three fit me I suppose LOL)

  4. When they do a Forbes focus on the best institutions for treating various addictions, they might include us then? But I don't believe that genealogy obsession is curable, so......