Past Articles

Is That a Famous Person in Your Family Tree?

Posted on October 7, 2014 in Family History

A name is one of the first gifts we receive from our families, and often it reflects the values and experiences of our parents. It’s considered an honor for a parent to name a child after someone else. Most often, the namesake is a member of the family or a close friend. Other common namesakes… Read more

Did Your Grandparents Rent or Own? Here’s Why

Posted on October 6, 2014 in Family History

For decades, politicians have trumpeted homeownership as the quintessential American dream. But that wasn’t always the message that American families received. For the first 75 years of the 20th century, your grandparents’ or their parents’ decision to rent or own depended largely on where they lived and how successful the government was in convincing them… Read more

10 Celebrities You Didn’t Know Are Scottish

Posted on September 29, 2014 in Celebrity

On September 18, 2014, Scottish voters decided not to sever their 307-year-old union with England and become an independent country, free from any official ties to the United Kingdom. The question divided the country, roiled the UK, and drew the gaze of the world. More quietly, Scotland has attracted the attention of television drama fans… Read more

8 Chilling Unsolved Murders in History

Posted on September 26, 2014 in Family History

We all love playing amateur detective at one time or another. This explains the enduring popularity of mystery novels and detective shows and the reason we’re drawn to dig through records to discover the secrets of our own families’ past on Ancestry. If you find yourself particularly good at digging up the long-buried truth —… Read more

Tall Tales: Were Your Ancestors Above Average in Height?

Posted on September 26, 2014 in Family History

According to Center for Disease Control figures released in 2010, the average size of an American male is 69.3 inches (nearly 5’9-1/2”) and 195 pounds, with females at 63.8 inches (nearly 5’4”) and 166 pounds. How do we compare to our ancestors? Evidence suggests our average height has seen minor changes since the American Revolution.… Read more

What’s the Most Common Birthday?

Posted on September 26, 2014 in Family History

Do you have a fall birthday? Is your birthday in September? Is your birthday, by any chance, September 16? If so, congratulations! You have the most common birthday in the U.S., based on data on American births from 1973 and 1999 analyzed at Harvard University. Least common? That’s an easy one: February 29. But on… Read more

Move Over Tesla: Porsche’s First Electric Car Turns 116

Posted on September 25, 2014 in Family History

Thirty years before he started what became an extremely successful car company, 22-year-old Ferdinand Porsche (you can see his picture here at Ancestry) designed an early electric car—in 1898! That very car was recently rediscovered, more than 100 years later, in an Austrian garage where it sat essentially undisturbed since 1902. As a child, Porsche… Read more

9 Things They Don’t Teach in College Anymore

Posted on September 19, 2014 in Family History

Laugh all you want at the courses colleges offer these days on Lady Gaga and zombies — is that really so much less practical than the ancient Greek and Roman would-be scholars had to study in centuries past? Ancestry has a whole collection of school catalogs from the 19th and early 20th centuries that are… Read more

4 Types of Spanish Surnames: Which One Is Yours?

Posted on September 17, 2014 in Family History

Ever wonder about Spanish surnames (“apellido” in Spanish) and how they came to be? Spanish surnames started being used in medieval times, when populations were growing and it became necessary to distinguish between individuals with the same given name. The 10 most common Spanish surnames today cover about 20 percent of the population in Spain.… Read more

It’s a Boy … and a Boy … and Another Boy: Does Child Gender Run in Families?

Posted on September 16, 2014 in Family History

Genealogy isn’t just a great way to learn about your personal history; it may also hold the key to longstanding mysteries in biological science. For decades, scientists and philosophers around the world have wondered what causes the “returning soldier effect” — a boom in baby boys born after a society’s soldiers return from war. Theories… Read more