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SOURCE: The Odum Institute

The Odum Institute



November 20, 2014 11:34 ET

Individuals Involved in Family History More Likely to Be Engaged in Community

Exploratory Study Finds Significant Correlation Between Family History Research and Involvement in One's Community; New iBook Available to Help Teachers Create Family History Curriculum in the Classroom

PROVO, UT and CHAPEL HILL, NC--(Marketwired - November 20, 2014) - A new exploratory study by the Odum Institute for Research in Social Science at the University of North Carolina commissioned on behalf of, the world's largest online family history resource, has found correlation between engagement in family history research and participation and interest in various service, civic and public activities.

Commissioned to determine if participating in family history research is related to one being more active in their local community, the study found respondents who were active in family history research (referred to as "Enthusiasts") were more likely to be engaged in their communities. According to the study, Enthusiasts were more likely to report doing volunteer work in the past 12 months, voted in the recent election, held public office, and belonged to a civic or veterans' organization than "Non-enthusiasts" (those who denied involvement in any family history research activities). Additionally, Enthusiasts reported significantly higher levels of charitable giving and larger numbers of volunteer hours.

Teresa Edwards, assistant director for survey research at the Odum Institute for Research in Social Science, was the Principal Investigator for the study. "To our knowledge, this is the first study to explore the relationship between family history research and community involvement. As such, our findings are preliminary, but we found strong and broad correlation across all the activities we examined." 

Additional study findings include:

  • 77 percent of Enthusiasts reported being involved in one or more community activities (e.g. sign a petition, attend a public meeting, contact a public official, donate blood) versus 52 percent of Non-enthusiasts.
  • 42 percent of Enthusiasts say they are very interested in politics and national affairs, compared to 24 percent of Non-enthusiasts.
  • Rate of volunteering in church, school, local food banks and filling a role as a committee member and/or organization officer was higher in Enthusiasts than Non-enthusiasts.
  • Self-reported participation rates in civic activities including voting in the 2012 U.S. presidential election, non-presidential elections and veteran organizations were significantly higher for Enthusiasts than Non-enthusiasts.

For, the study reaffirmed the importance of family history for younger audiences and underscored the need for better family history resources and curriculum in schools. 

To help teachers with their efforts to utilize family history resources, also announced today the availability of a new iBook, "Family History in the Classroom," created in connection with LEARN NC, an outreach arm of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill's School of Education. The new resource will assist teachers with their family history curriculum. It will be showcased at the National Council for the Social Studies Annual Conference being held in Boston this weekend (November 22-24).

"We know the importance family history plays in bringing families together, but this study helped us to better understand the role it can have in the classroom and in the community at large, not just in helping to encourage better learning, but greater civic involvement," said Brock Bierman, senior director, Ancestry Education. "Getting to know those who came before us can put our own roles into perspective and have a profound impact on what's important to us and the activities we engage in outside of school, and later in life, in our communities."

Kendra Allen, the school library media coordinator at Holly Grove Middle School in Holly Springs, N.C., worked on the "Family History in the Classroom" project, helping lead eighth grade students exploring their family histories. "My hope was that my students would dive and thrive on their own curiosity to know more, find more, learn more," Allen said. "I wasn't disappointed. It was the most wholly engaged group of eighth grade students I had ever worked with, even though they were in their last weeks of middle school."

Allen said her students felt empowered by working on the project. "Right when they would normally be 'checked out' and daydreaming of summer break and high school, they were instead having authentic conversations about their research. As a teacher, I was able to see these students in a new light and learned more about them in two weeks than I had in the three years I'd been teaching them. And they saw themselves in a new light too."

Earlier this year began offering Ancestry K12 (, a program that makes record collections including U.S. Census records from 1790 to 1940, as well as military records and historical content from its and websites, available to teachers and students for free.

"We're thrilled to have teamed up with the Odum Institute and LEARN NC to better understand the role family history may have in creating more community engaged individuals and the importance of resources in the classroom to better enable family history curriculum in early education," said Bierman. "We have a duty to follow the lead of our ancestors who helped build our nation and whose shoulders we stand on. What's learned in the classroom can play a huge role in helping create more engaged, civic minded citizens." 

To learn more about the Odum Institute study, including data summary and methodology, visit To download a copy of the new iBook, visit

About is the world's largest online family history resource with approximately 2.7 million paying subscribers across all its websites. More than 15 billion records have been added, and users have created more than 60 million family trees to the core Ancestry websites, including its flagship site and its affiliated international websites. Additionally, offers a suite of online family history brands, including,,, as well as the AncestryDNA service, sold by DNA, LLC, which, along with its core Ancestry websites, are all designed to empower people to discover, preserve and share their family history.

Forward-Looking Statements
This press release contains forward-looking statements. Forward-looking statements involve a number of risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from those anticipated by these forward-looking statements. Such risks and uncertainties include a variety of factors, some of which are beyond the Company's control. In particular, such risks and uncertainties include the size of our total addressable market and the Company's ability to provide value to satisfy customer demand. Information concerning additional factors that could cause events or results to differ materially is contained under the caption "Risk Factors" in our Quarterly Report on Form 10-Q for the period ended September 30, 2014, which was filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission on November 3, 2014, and in discussions in other of our Securities and Exchange Commission filings. These forward-looking statements should not be relied upon as representing our views as of any subsequent date and we assume no obligation to publicly update or revise these forward-looking statements.

About Odum Institute
The Odum Institute for Research in Social Science was founded in 1924 by Howard Washington Odum, making it the oldest university-based interdisciplinary social science research institute in the United States. It provides education, training, data collection, and archive services to researchers both within and beyond UNC-Chapel Hill. Its mission is to facilitate scientifically rigorous social science research that contributes to better lives for the citizens of North Carolina and the world. For more information, see

LEARN NC serves as the primary professional development center for the School of Education at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Since 1997, LEARN NC has worked with schools and educators on a variety of projects meant to extend professional learning for teachers and other educators. LEARN NC's two primary forms of outreach involve a deep repository of digital collections and materials, as well as a strong portfolio of interactive online courses. More than a website, LEARN NC also supports a strong element of face-to-face work in an effort to achieve the goal of creating a community of teachers who are exploring and sharing best practices and hands-on teaching approaches. LEARN NC receives nearly 20,000 unique visits daily, with a reach that extends across the nation and around the world. LEARN NC can be found online at

Contact Information

  • Media Contacts
    Matt Deighton for Ancestry
    Public Relations Sr. Specialist
    Phone: (801) 705-7834

    Peter Leousis for Odum Institute
    Deputy Director

    Michael Hobbs for UNC-Chapel Hill School of Education
    Director of Communications
    Phone: (919) 962-8687