Survey Reveals Americans’ Surprising Lack of Family Knowledge

Ancestry____logo.bmpLatest Survey Shows How Little Americans Know About Their Families; Holidays Perfect Time to Get to Know Family Better

PROVO, UT – December 6, 2007 – Are you among the one-third of Americans who cannot name any of their great-grandparents? Or are you part of the four in ten Americans who know both of their grandmothers’ maiden names? While family history continues to rise in popularity as one of the nation’s favorite pastimes, a new survey conducted by, the world’s largest online resource for family history, reveals Americans know surprisingly little about their own families. With the holidays just around the corner, there’s no better time to begin learning about family roots and creating lasting memories, especially as families gather together in celebration.’s survey uncovers some surprising results, including:

  • Young Americans are looking to their roots – 83 percent of 18- to 34–years-old are interested in learning their family history. Following closely are the 35- to 54-year-olds at 77 percent and Americans ages 55+ at 73 percent.
  • Half of Americans know the name of only one or none of their great-grandparents.
  • Twenty-two percent of Americans don’t know what either of their grandfathers do or did for a living.
  • Although America is known as a nation of immigrants, 27 percent don’t know where their family lived before they came to America.
  • Seventy-eight percent of Americans say they are interested in learning more about their family history.
  • Fifty percent of American families have ever researched their roots.
  • In comparing regions, Southerners know the least about their roots. Only 38 percent know both of their grandmothers’ maiden names, compared with 50 percent of Northeasterners. Also, only 47 percent of Southerners know what both of their grandfathers do or did for a living, while 55 percent of Northeasterners know both grandfathers’ occupations.

Source: zOmnibus Survey, MarketTools, February 2007

“We have so much to learn about our own families,” said Tim Sullivan, President and CEO of The Generations Network, parent company of “Our parents, grandparents, great-grandparents each possess a lifetime of incredible, unique experiences that have shaped their lives and impacted our own. It’s important we take time to better get to know our family members and to share our stories.”

Americans can easily take advantage of holiday gatherings to get to know family members better. outlines five subjects you can discuss with your family that are sure to rekindle rich memories. A few questions to ask family members include:

Growing Up

  • Where did you grow up?
  • What do you remember about the holidays as a child?

Family Members

  • Describe the personalities of your family members.
  • Are there any physical characteristics that run in your family?

Family Traditions

  • Can you remember any stories that were told to you as a child (fictional, folklore, or real life)?
  • Did your family have any memorable holiday or other traditions?

Special Interests / Hobbies

  • Did you have any hobbies when you were growing up?
  • What kind of games did you play?

Courtship / Dating / Marriage

  • Where did you meet your husband/wife?
  • How did he / you propose?

This season, offers Americans several easy, fun solutions for turning their family histories into the perfect holiday gift. Using their own photos, portraits, old family documents, and basic family history information, individuals create heirloom-quality family history books that can be printed from their own computer or professionally printed and shipped. By visiting, customers can also create personalized family recipe books, family history portraits and posters, family calendars, apparel and more*. Many of these projects can be created in less than 30 minutes.

“I encourage all those who will be with their loved ones over the holidays to spend a few minutes asking questions about the past,” said Sullivan. “What can you learn about your parent, grandparent or another family member whom you’ve known your entire life?”

* Customers should place orders by Sunday, December 9th, to ensure delivery by Friday, December 21st, for Christmas.

With 24,000 searchable databases and titles and 2.5 million active members, is the No. 1 online source for family history information. Since its launch in 1997, has been the premier resource for family history, simplifying genealogical research for millions of people by providing them with many easy-to-use tools and resources to build their own unique family trees. The site is home to the only complete online U.S. Federal Census collection, 1790-1930, as well as the world’s largest online collection of U.S. ship passenger list records featuring more than 100 million names, 1820-1960. is part of The Generations Network, Inc., a leading network of family-focused interactive properties, including,, and Family Tree Maker. In total, The Generations Network properties receive 8.7 million worldwide unique visitors and 416 million page views per month (© comScore Media Metrix, October 2007). For more information, visit The Generations Network media room at

Media Contact

Julia Burgon
Coltrin & Associates for
212-221-1616 ext. 124
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1 thought on “Survey Reveals Americans’ Surprising Lack of Family Knowledge

  1. I am so glad to now have time to look up both my family and my husband’s family ancestor’s. Nobody seemed to be able to give much information about anybody past their grand-parents. With this new age of information and being able to research on the internet, I have been able to find lot’s of answers to questions of the past and found connections that I did not know about through the census records. Thank you so much.

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