The year 2021 was a very important one in the history of our organization: We made the big step to rebrand to World History Encyclopedia, as we were known as Ancient History Encyclopedia until last year. The new name better reflects what we do, as we have been publishing content on the Medieval and Early Modern periods for several years now, and the new name allows our encyclopedia to grow without limitations in the coming decades.
With the rebranding came the acquisition of the domains worldhistory.org and worldhistory.com, the two single most expensive purchases our organization has made to date. We also suffered a significant reduction in visitors for several months following the domain move, which we have now mostly recovered from (as far as we can tell). Despite all this, we believe that the worldhistory.org brand can grow far beyond what we could ever have achieved with ancient.eu. As always, we are in this for the long haul and make our decisions with the coming decades in mind, not quarterly reports.
Our team also grew significantly, both in terms of size and capabilities. We focused very much on translations and grew our team, leading to continued exponential growth in that department (more on that later). We had a graphic designer, a media editor and a dedicated proofreader join the team -- all of whom are adding new expertise to our organization.
Despite some difficulties, the year 2021 was a success, as we reached several new records in several departments. We are looking to the future with many aspirations and the confidence that we will help ever greater numbers of people to learn about history, in all of the languages of the world!
Finally, I wish to extend a huge thank you to all our members and donors. Without your unwavering support we would not be where we are now. Thank you!
Keep reading below for more details...
Jan van der Crabben
In 2021 we had over 25 million readers from all over the world who read over 53 million pages on our website. This is a 13% decrease compared to 2020, which was caused due to a significant drop in Google rankings after our domain move. We have now recovered from this and expect 2022 to be higher again.
We are aware of 5,333 schools, universities and libraries who used our website in 2021, slightly more than in the previous year. Many schools and universities have listed us as a recommended resource on their library websites in 2021. Our teaching resource production ground to a halt due to staffing issues, which we resolved in early 2022.
The number of paid employees went up from five to eight in the year 2021. That is the largest annual increase to date for our small non-profit organization. It was a very conscious choice to invest more in staff, with the goal to grow faster and produce more free content for the world. At the start of 2022 we already hired two more.
Our authors and editors published 438 new articles and definitions on the website, our biggest year-on-year increase ever. More and more contributors are joining us and we've partnered with Oxford University Press to publish excerpts from academic books, too.
Our social media presence on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and Tumblr dropped because we decided to reboot our English-language Facebook page after we had seen how much success our fresh Spanish and French pages had. The new page is growing rapidly and is reaching more people with only a fifth of the old page's followers.
We have now published over 3,000 article translations into a grand total of 36 languages. Our translation team has grown significantly, with two employees and around a hundred volunteer translators from all over the world. World History Encyclopedia is becoming a truly global resource, not only for those of us who speak English!
Our Youtube Channel showed tremendous growth in 2021. We started the year with 8350 subscribers and ended it with 29,000 subscribers. That's 347% growth, which is simply mindboggling! At the time of writing, we have already surpassed 38,000 subscribers.
Kelly produced 103 videos on a wide range of subjects, from ancient times to the age of exploration, several comparative videos and specials for international days, such as International Women's Day. Our most popular video of 2021 was A Short History of Sumer and the Sumerian Civilization from Mesopotamia, with over 102,900 views.
Translation was one of our focus areas for 2021, with great success. Our website saw more growth in the translation department than in any other area. We started the year with around 2,000 non-English pageviews per day and ended with around 23,000, which represents 1150% growth. In line with our mission to become a truly global entity, non-English readers also made up a larger share of our total readership: We started the year with around 2% non-English readers in January and ended with 11% non-English readers. We expect this trend to continue and predict that in the next few years non-English readers will make up the majority of our traffic.
All of this is made possible not only with amazing technology (we use machine translation to reverse-translate those languages we have no native speaker editor for) but mainly with the incredible dedication of our translation team, led by Babeth and supported by our new Spanish editor Agustina, who jointly manage a vast number of volunteer translators from all over the world. Thanks to all of them!
The domain move from ancient.eu to worldhistory.org was carefully planned and executed to perfection (was event shortlisted for the US Search Award)... yet we still suffered a significant drop in traffic that took us several months to recover from. We knew that this was a possibility, which is why we timed the domain migration to occur in April:
We have started to create custom-made maps with the help of our graphic designer Simeon. These maps show a wide variety of subjects, from states and cities in ancient Mesopotamia, in-period style maps of the Spanish Main, or comparative maps. We are very excited about this addition to our publication as we believe that maps are a uniquely useful tool to understand the past. A map can explain historical context like no article ever could. The map on the left shows the world according to what Columbus believed it to be, overlaid upon the actual world map. This was the first map to truly go viral on our website, attracting over 177,000 readers in a short period of time. It continues to be a very popular map on our website.
This year we welcomed several new team members (in order of joining):