Past Articles

There Are Four Common Types of German Surnames. Which One Is Yours?

Posted on October 9, 2014 in Surnames

In German, a surname is called the “Nachname” or “Familienname.” The family name gradually started being used during the Middle Ages. Prior to that, people generally used only a given name. As the population increased, though, that population needed a way to differentiate between all those new people. Now, those surnames can help you trace your family… Read more

Hate going to the dentist? So did your ancestors.

Posted on October 9, 2014 in Family History

Neolithic-era teeth found in modern-day Pakistan show evidence of having been drilled — with drills made of flint — and in a “remarkably effective” way, according to modern researchers who studied the 9,000-year-old teeth. Which goes to show that fear of going to the dentist probably predates written history. During the early Middle Ages in… Read more

The Killer Flu: How Did the 1918 Pandemic Affect Your Family?

Posted on October 9, 2014 in Family History

Normally, the flu is regarded as a winter misery we endure. But the strain that circled the globe at the end of World War I proved one of the deadliest illnesses to strike humanity. “The 1918 flu epidemic puts every other epidemic of this century to shame,” observed Gina Kolata in her book Flu. “It… Read more

‘Finding Your Roots’: Derek Jeter Digs Into His Mixed-Race Origins

Posted on October 8, 2014 in Finding Your Roots

New York Yankee captain Derek Jeter may have just retired from baseball and likely is heading for a a spot in the Hall of Fame, but before he said farewell to his pinstripes, he investigated his family tree to find out if his skills on the field had anything to do with his genetics. In… Read more

Famous Two-Timers: Bigamists, Polygamists, and Secret Families Throughout History

Posted on October 7, 2014 in Family History

Not every dig into a family’s past is going to come up with happy discoveries. Witness Kim Cattrall’s episode of Who Do You Think You Are? a few years ago, when she found out that after her grandfather disappeared — leaving behind a wife and three daughters — he started a new family just 40… Read more

Is That a Famous Person in Your Family Tree?

Posted on October 7, 2014 in Family History

A name is one of the first gifts we receive from our families, and often it reflects the values and experiences of our parents. It’s considered an honor for a parent to name a child after someone else. Most often, the namesake is a member of the family or a close friend. Other common namesakes… Read more

Did Your Grandparents Rent or Own? Here’s Why

Posted on October 6, 2014 in Family History

For decades, politicians have trumpeted homeownership as the quintessential American dream. But that wasn’t always the message that American families received. For the first 75 years of the 20th century, your grandparents’ or their parents’ decision to rent or own depended largely on where they lived and how successful the government was in convincing them… Read more

10 Celebrities You Didn’t Know Are Scottish

Posted on September 29, 2014 in Celebrity

On September 18, 2014, Scottish voters decided not to sever their 307-year-old union with England and become an independent country, free from any official ties to the United Kingdom. The question divided the country, roiled the UK, and drew the gaze of the world. More quietly, Scotland has attracted the attention of television drama fans… Read more

8 Chilling Unsolved Murders in History

Posted on September 26, 2014 in Family History

We all love playing amateur detective at one time or another. This explains the enduring popularity of mystery novels and detective shows and the reason we’re drawn to dig through records to discover the secrets of our own families’ past on Ancestry. If you find yourself particularly good at digging up the long-buried truth —… Read more

Tall Tales: Were Your Ancestors Above Average in Height?

Posted on September 26, 2014 in Family History

According to Center for Disease Control figures released in 2010, the average size of an American male is 69.3 inches (nearly 5’9-1/2”) and 195 pounds, with females at 63.8 inches (nearly 5’4”) and 166 pounds. How do we compare to our ancestors? Evidence suggests our average height has seen minor changes since the American Revolution.… Read more