Past Articles

8 Celebrities With Asian Ancestry

Posted on July 21, 2014 in Celebrity

For decades, Asian characters in Hollywood films and television shows were commonly played by non-Asian actors, and then for a few more decades, the only Asians portrayed were martial artists in action flicks. Even in today’s increasingly multicultural America (according to the 2010 census, 5.6 percent of the population is Asian, and it’s the fastest-growing… Read more

12 Bizarre Dining Customs That Are Now Extinct

Posted on July 20, 2014 in Family History

[Photo credit: Shutterstock] It’s no secret that humans spend an inordinate amount of time on food, whether it’s procuring it, preparing it, serving it, or, of course, eating it. Here are 12 dining customs we’re glad are no longer in vogue. 1. Vegetarians that were, well, not. In Medieval Britain, chickens, pigeons and fish were… Read more

Hot Summer Nights: The 1890 Ice Famine

Posted on July 20, 2014 in Family History

In the summer, it’s hard to imagine going without ice. But until the early 20th century, ice was a luxury and could be hard to come by. In the 1800s, it was “harvested” from ponds and streams, the frozen surface broken into huge chunks and shipped to cities to the south. This system could be… Read more

Phoenix NBC News Anchor Kim Covington Uncovers Her Slave Roots—and a Surprising Celebrity Connection

Posted on July 11, 2014 in Family History

Phoenix NBC news anchor Kim Covington knew nothing about her Covington name or heritage, and like many African-Americans, she believed it was impossible to find out more. But when family history experts from Ancestry.com began a search into her past, what they discovered not only answered questions about Kim’s family tree, but also, she says,… Read more

What Was It Like to Live in 18th-Century England?

Posted on July 10, 2014 in Family History

The Dashwood sisters, characters from Jane Austen’s novel Sense and Sensibility, lived rather elegantly in 1700s England. Is that what your 18th-century ancestors’ day-to-day lives were like? There were two very different lifestyles in 18th-century England: that of the rich and that of the poor. With the Industrial Revolution, which started in the middle of… Read more

1934: A Bad Year for America’s Most Wanted

Posted on July 10, 2014 in Family History

It was 1934, the height of the Depression. FDR was president, the Apollo Theater had just opened in Harlem, and all year long, newspapers were full of articles about the “Dillinger Gang” and America’s Most Wanted criminals. It was a busy year for bad guys, and ultimately a bad one for them, too, as many… Read more

9 Things You Don’t Know About Your Clothes

Posted on July 9, 2014 in Family History

In many ways, clothes defined our ancestors. What they wore gave clues to their class, occupation, and status in the world. And to some degree, not much has changed. Today, we have uniforms for certain jobs, outer labels on clothing that indicate their expense, and different styles that define how we (and others) see ourselves.… Read more

9 Reasons Your Great-Great-Grandparents Were More Awesome Than You

Posted on July 9, 2014 in Family History

As 21st-century adults, it’s hard to fathom the kind of lives our great-great-grandparents led. While there were many difficulties they had to contend with, there were also many advantages to a pre-digital life in the 1870s and 1880s. Here are 9 reasons why Great-great-grandma and Grandpa were more awesome than we are: 1. They could… Read more

8 Jobs You Were Born Too Late to Get

Posted on July 9, 2014 in Family History

Some jobs just aren’t meant to last. Technology trims a trade. Fashion fickleness frustrates growth. Reduced resources wreak havoc on an industry. In the 21st century, no one’s surprised when automation and offshoring render occupations obsolete. But that process of creative destruction has always occurred. Steel replaces bone. Siri the talking iPhone replaces Sally the… Read more

Hello, Mr. and Mrs. Smith: America’s Most Common Surnames

Posted on July 8, 2014 in Surnames

You won’t find this Top 10 list on Letterman, but according to the 2000 U.S. Census, the top 10 surnames in the United States, in order, are: Smith Johnson Williams Brown Jones Miller Davis García Rodríguez Wilson In 2000, there were 2.4 million Smiths, 1.9 million Johnsons, and 1.5 million Williamses in the U.S. Those… Read more