Past Articles

The American Vacation: Circa 1900

Posted on August 20, 2014 in Family History

It’s hard to believe today, but leisure was considered a questionable pursuit for much of American history. Thanks to the Protestant work ethic and endless days in the fields, time off was barely a consideration for most people. But as cities grew crowded and unsanitary in the mid-19th century, fresh air increasingly seemed like a… Read more

10 Strange But True Facts About the Revolutionary War

Posted on August 13, 2014 in Military Records

For a war about taxes, the American Revolution sure wasn’t boring. Tales of the scrappy Colonists’ rebellion against King George III made many of us history buffs back in elementary school. (Even as adults, some of us still geek out over Revolutionary War records on Ancestry.com.) But those textbooks didn’t teach us everything there is… Read more

Last Word: First-Person Accounts of American Slavery

Posted on August 13, 2014 in Family History

During the Depression, when the U.S. government was trying to put to work one person in every family that had an unemployed breadwinner, some remarkable things were done. Between 1935 and 1943, the Works Project Administration (WPA) hired almost 8 million unemployed people across the country to build new roads, bridges, schools, botanical gardens, zoos,… Read more

9 Typical Ellis Island Experiences

Posted on August 13, 2014 in Family History

More than a third of all Americans can trace their ancestry to Europeans who entered America after a mandatory stop at Ellis Island. Between 1892 and 1954, more than 12 million people passed through the immigration inspection station in Upper New York Bay, and on average immigrants spent 2-5 hours there. So, what was the… Read more

One If By Land — What Type of Transportation Did Your Ancestors Use?

Posted on August 8, 2014 in Family History

How did your ancestors get around? Go back far enough, and they primarily walked or rode horses (which were domesticated about 4,000-3,000 B.C.). But how about in more recent times? Not sure? Have a look at Ancestry’s helpful explanation of its maps, atlases and Gazetteers collection from across the U.S. Looking at the lay of… Read more

What It Was Like on the REAL Oregon Trail?

Posted on August 8, 2014 in Family History

Whether you were addicted to The Oregon Trail on your Apple IIc as a kid, got hooked on it on Facebook as an adult, or just have an affinity for old Westerns, you probably think you have an idea of what life was like for our pioneer ancestors who made the journey to the Pacific… Read more

13 Fascinating Victorian Funeral Customs

Posted on July 29, 2014 in Family History

Many Victorian funeral customs started when Queen Victoria’s husband, Prince Albert, died of typhoid in 1861. She mourned him for the rest of her life, dressing in full mourning for the first three years after his death (her entire court did the same). Her style of mourning was copied the world over, especially in England,… Read more

A (Long) Day in the Life of Your Grandparents

Posted on July 25, 2014 in Family History

Family life in the 1950s is the stuff of myth: rolling suburban lawns, practical housewives, Cadillacs, and tuna casserole. A lot of that is based in fact. Flush with postwar freedom and cash, life looked pretty good to most Americans. They got married earlier than at any other time in the century (women at 21… Read more

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

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 considered “vegetarian.” At… Read more