Past Articles

What if America Had Surnames for Illegitimate Children Like “Game of Thrones”?

Posted on July 2, 2015 in Surnames

In the fictional kingdom of Westeros, created in George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Fire and Ice series and depicted on HBO’s Game of Thrones, illegitimate children of noble houses take certain surnames depending on which of the kingdom’s nine regions they are raised in. Thus, fan favorite Jon Snow takes his surname from… Read more

What Is the Real Story Behind Hillary Clinton’s Ancestry?

Posted on June 26, 2015 in Celebrity

Hillary Rodham Clinton has been First Lady, Senator from New York, and Secretary of State. Next year, she hopes to add another title to her resume: President of the United States of America. Clinton is the early front-runner to win the Democratic Party’s nomination in the 2016 presidential race, and if she makes it to… Read more

Hard Time: More Escape Stories from Clinton Prison

Posted on June 23, 2015 in Family History

New York’s Clinton Correctional Facility — or Dannemora as it’s often known — became a regular part of the national news when two convicted murderers, Richard Matt and David Sweat, escaped using power tools. Though the entire situation seems like a plot straight out of a movie, this isn’t the first time prisoners used tools… Read more

9 Famous Smiths Through History – Are You Related to Them?

Posted on June 12, 2015 in Celebrity

Smith is the most common last name in America, so if your people have been here for awhile, there is a good chance the name belongs to someone somewhere on your family tree. But was it someone who was famous? Or infamous? That’s where Ancestry comes in. Even though there are over a billion records… Read more

What Your Last Name Tells You About Your Ancestor’s Job

Posted on June 12, 2015 in Surnames

If surnames were instituted today, what would yours be? Maybe you’d be Joe Dentist, or Mary Blogger, or Jamie App Developer. Centuries ago, as populations boomed, people started to think, “Hey, we need to a way to differentiate that John from that other John.” So people took on surnames, many of which described their occupations.… Read more

You’ll Never Believe Which President Ted Cruz Is Related To

Posted on June 12, 2015 in Celebrity

Texas senator Ted Cruz has one thing going for his 2016 presidential bid — he has a president in his family tree. The irony? That president is his nemesis across the political aisle, President Barack Obama! Cruz’s veins may run red, while Obama is as cool as blue, but they could have both attended the… Read more

Secrets of Scandinavian Baby Naming Patterns

Posted on June 12, 2015 in Surnames

In the Scandinavian countries of old, people often followed a pattern of naming babies based on the order of their birth. They gave Norwegian, Swedish, and Danish babies names from both sides of the family in a predictable order, which is good to know if you’re trying to piece together who’s who in your family… Read more

9 Famous People Who Married Their Cousins

Posted on June 12, 2015 in Family History

In many cultures around the world, it is frowned upon to marry your cousin (and in some countries even illegal), but that hasn’t stopped people throughout history from doing it. From presidents like Martin Van Buren and John Adams to royals like Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, historical figures have often engaged in this practice.… Read more

10 Irish American Surnames Explained

Posted on June 10, 2015 in Surnames

Over four million Irish immigrants came to the United States between 1820 and 1930. Their surnames are still common around the country, especially in historic enclaves in the Northeast. Many originally had a tell-tale “O” before the name, which meant “descendant of” in Gaelic, but it has largely been dropped. With or without the O,… Read more

African Americans Have Tools to Trace Their Own Roots

Posted on June 9, 2015 in Family History

African Americans increasingly turn to Ancestry to research their family history. In recent years, digitized records and advanced DNA tests have made it possible to trace your roots to slave plantations, armies, and even African regions of origin. Since their ancestors usually came to the United States on slave ships — without immigration records —… Read more