Past Articles

What Your Grandmother Was Like as a Teenager

Posted on April 17, 2015 in Family History

The concept of “teenager” being a distinct part of life complete with its own lifestyle — let alone one with time to sit around texting on their phones — is a 20th-century one that didn’t really exist until about the 1940s. Prior to the 1900s, many young people left school and worked, either on the… Read more

Did Your Ancestors End Up in the Poorhouse?

Posted on April 13, 2015 in Family History

Did your parents used to warn: “We’ll end up in the poorhouse!” Nowadays, it’s just an expression. For earlier generations, though, it was a real fear. But what was the poorhouse? And who ended up there? There really were poorhouses, though sometimes they were called by different names. In some areas it was the almshouse,… Read more

The Surprising Roles Women Played in the Civil War

Posted on April 13, 2015 in Military Records

The Civil War tore the nation in two, pitted state against state and brother against brother, and led to the death of over 625,000 soldiers. But the Civil War didn’t just change the lives of men who fought in it — it transformed the lives of women, too. Women served on the battlefield in various… Read more

Six Sensational Murder Trials in History

Posted on April 13, 2015 in Family History

“Murder most foul.” It occurs roughly 16,000 times a year here in the United States, but only a select few capture the nation’s interest and fascination. Why do some murders — and their resulting trials — attract more attention than others? Sometimes the trials involve a famous (or infamous) defendant or a particularly well-known or innocent… Read more

6 Baby Names That Got a Pop Culture Boost

Posted on April 9, 2015 in Surnames

Pop culture’s influence runs deep, from the clothes we wear to the words we say. In fact, the names of many people in our lives are a testament to what was happening in the world at the time they were born. Here are some of the most popular baby names that got a bump in… Read more

12 Questionable Pieces of Retro Advice

Posted on March 31, 2015 in Family History

From Dorothy Dix to Ann Landers, advice columns have long filled American newspapers. The archives on Ancestry are rich with pointers on how to snag a man or behave in polite company. They’re a window into the social mores of different eras — many of which are thankfully long gone. If you’re looking for some… Read more

The Meanings of 6 Celebrity Surnames

Posted on March 19, 2015 in Celebrity, Surnames

Surnames, like the families and lineages they represent, can bestow a sense of identity on individuals to forge into the future with. Knowing the meaning of surnames can also help individuals discover their roots and where they originate. Sometimes, the meanings of family surnames are obvious, particularly if they originate in the same language spoken… Read more

Fascinating Secrets From 6 First Ladies’ Family Trees

Posted on March 19, 2015 in Celebrity

Think the U.S. presidents have interesting ancestry? Their wives come from equally surprising bloodlines. Here are six first ladies with amazing family trees. Hillary Clinton is related to Angelina Jolie. According to a study by the New England Historic Genealogical Society, Hillary Clinton and Angelina Jolie are ninth cousins twice removed. Their common ancestor is… Read more

What Your Name Says About What You Do

Posted on March 9, 2015 in Surnames

Every expectant parent has wondered the same thing: “What impact will a particular name have on my child’s life?” If my family name is McDonald, will my son be teased if I name him Ronald? If I name my daughter Abbott, will she become a Franciscan friar? If I call my baby boy Elvis, is… Read more

Kicking the Bucket: What Killed Your Ancestors?

Posted on March 4, 2015 in Death Records

We know we’re living longer than our ancestors did due to the benefits of modern medicine and public health initiatives, but what exactly did folks die from in the past? Mortality information was collected with U.S. census records starting in the mid-1800s, but the further you go back in time, the more difficult it can… Read more