Past Articles

4 Types of French Surnames: Which One Is Yours?

Posted on September 3, 2014 in Family History

Is your last name French? Did you ever wonder where it came from and how your family got it? The most common French surnames for people born between 1891 and 1990 were: Martin (patronymic; after the most popular French saint, Saint Martin of Tours) Bernard (patronymic; from the given name, which is of Germanic origin)… Read more

It’s a Conspiracy: No J? No Gig for “Tonight Show” Hosts

Posted on August 29, 2014 in Family History

One of the most fun aspects of using is that, on a whim, you can look up the lineage of various celebrities. For instance, on Johnny Carson’s search results page, you can find out that he’s on family trees from places as diverse as Cleveland and Nantucket. You can also see him in the… Read more

What’s the Most Popular Baby Name in Your State?

Posted on August 28, 2014 in Family History

Names like John and Mary have long been staples in the United States, at least since 1880 (according to the U.S. Social Security website). But you might have noticed a lot more men named David than John while you were investigating your family tree on That might have something to do with where you… Read more

On the Road Circa 1914: Glamping with Henry Ford and Thomas Edison

Posted on August 28, 2014 in Family History

Who knew that Henry Ford and Thomas Edison were sort of the Thelma & Louise road-trippers of their time—without the guns? Starting in 1914, the two captains of industry took to the roads together for a two-week camping trip almost every year for about a decade. They called themselves “The Vagabonds” and were often joined… Read more

It’s a Boy! Now, It’s a Girl! 8 Baby Names That Switched Genders

Posted on August 27, 2014 in Family History

Part of the fun of researching your family history on is discovering the amusingly archaic names of your ancestors, like Elva, Gust, or Drucilla. But you might also find some puzzlers, like marriages between an Allison and a Sarah or a Vivian and an Ola: That’s because some names that we now associate with… Read more

The “Big Apple,” “Underwear Capitol of the World,” & Other Curious City Nicknames

Posted on August 27, 2014 in Family History

There’s no city that looks less like a big apple — so why, exactly, is that New York City’s nickname? Turns out it has nothing to do with fruit. The name “the big apple” actually came about as New York City’s moniker in around 1920 in reference to horse racing! Newspaper horse racing reporter John… Read more

Ghosts of Presidents Past: Who’s Haunting the White House?

Posted on August 27, 2014 in Family History

President Harry Truman once wrote in a letter to his wife that the White House was “haunted sure as shootin’.” This country’s most famous address, 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, may also be its most haunted house. Plenty of reputable people have reported seeing the White House’s various ghosts: Abraham Lincoln The most well-known White House ghost… Read more

Did You Know Tom Cruise Has an Acting Cousin?

Posted on August 26, 2014 in Family History

Tom Cruise has a million-dollar smile, a trio of beautiful ex-wives, and a cousin who loves him. That last one’s important — for the cousin, especially. William Mapother is an actor like his first cousin, but without the $6.4 billion in ticket sales to his name. But it’s not for lack of trying from both… Read more

No School for You? A History of Education

Posted on August 26, 2014 in Family History

We may take an elementary school education for granted nowadays, but school hasn’t always been the rule for children. In generations past, children were often considered “small adults” and went to work at very young ages without a formal education. Which of your ancestors went to school as kids? That may have depended on where… Read more

All Work and No Play? No Way! What Our Ancestors Did for Fun

Posted on August 26, 2014 in Family History

We have this image in our minds of our ancestors toiling away day and night, struggling to feed their families, fighting wars, discovering new territories, fleeing new enemies. But they did find time for fun, even long before the Industrial Revolution began to add more leisure time to people’s schedules. In fact, we can trace… Read more