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A century of chaos, but the internet leads the way

  • Invention of the internet was the defining event of the past 100 years
  • Over a quarter (27%) of Brits believe the end of the British monarchy will occur in the next 100 years
  • 27 per cent of women wish they had witnessed women winning the vote, compared with just 4 per cent of men

As Census 2011 night approaches, Genes Reunited, a leading family history website, has delved into what the nation defines as the biggest historical events of the past 100 years and what they think might happen in the next century.

Despite the world changing events of two world wars, the invention of the internet topped the list of the most defining event of the past 100 years. This was followed closely by World War Two, man walking on the moon and then September 11th 2001.

Top 3 defining events of the last 100 years

  • Invention of the internet
  • World War Two
  • Man walking on the moon

Only a handful of people are alive who featured in the 1911 census and witnessed the key events of the last century. According to Genes Reunited, being in the NASA control centre when man first walked on the moon came top of the list when it came to events that people most wished they had witnessed first hand, followed by being around when women won the vote in 1912. Interestingly, 27 per cent of women compared with only four per cent of men wanted to be at this key event towards equality.

Top 5 historical events people wished they had experienced

  • Being in the NASA control centre for man's first walk on the moon
  • VE day celebrations
  • Watching England winning the football World Cup at Wembley in 1966
  • Being there in person for the fall of the Berlin wall
  • Attending Martin Luther King's 'I have a dream' speech in person

As Brits prepare to fill out their 2011 census forms, it is interesting to think what people in 2111 will be looking back on. The research found that people believe that in the next 100 years the world will see the first female American President, sea levels will have risen to unmanageable levels and, sadly for the descendents of Kate and William, the end of the royal family in the UK.

Top 5 predictions for the next 100 years

  • First woman American president
  • Sea levels rising to unmanageable levels
  • The first man/woman landing on Mars
  • World War Three
  • End of the royal family in the UK

It seems that young people have different expectations of what's next compared with their elders. 37 per cent of 18 to 34 year olds believe World War Three will occur before 2111 but only 18 per cent of adults over 55 agree.

Rhoda Breakell, Head of Genes Reunited, comments: "So much in history has happened over the past 100 years, it's fascinating to look back at the records from the 1911 census and see details of the lives of people who experienced the events that we're still so interested in today.

"As we ourselves prepare to fill in the 2011 census, we can try to imagine what future family historians will learn about their ancestors from our responses. Researching family history is about the past, the present and the future, which is what makes the 1911 census, the most recent publically available census, and now the 2011 census, so exciting."

Notes to the Editor - About this article

Opinium Research carried out an online survey of 2,025 UK adults aged 18+ from 4th to 8th March 2011. Results have been weighted to nationally representative criteria.

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Notes to the Editor - About Genes Reunited

Genes Reunited was launched in 2002 as a sister-site to the Internet phenomenon Friends Reunited. Since then it has grown to become the UK's largest genealogy website.

It marked a revolution in genealogy and ancestry by combining them with Internet social-networking. Members are able to build their family tree by posting it on the site and investigating which ancestors they share with other members. They can also search historical records such as census, birth, death, marriage and military records.

It currently has over 11 million members and over 750 million names listed. One new name is added to the site every single second.