Past Articles

Are You a Smith? Here’s How to Find Out About Your Family History

Posted on May 13, 2015 in Surnames

Your last name may not be Smith, but with more than 45 million records for the name on Ancestry, you could find yourself related to someone (or someones) with the most popular surname in the United States and Great Britain. What could that mean to you? A lot. The English surname Smith traces it roots… Read more

How to Unlock the Mysteries of Your Surname

Posted on May 13, 2015 in Surnames

Surnames give individuals a sense of identity as they go into the world. Family names can also be a key to unlocking a person’s roots, revealing who their ancestors were, what culture they shared, and how forces of history affected where they lived and why they moved. That’s why one of the most powerful tools… Read more

If George Clooney Is This Guy’s Cousin, Who’s In Your Family Tree?

Posted on May 7, 2015 in Celebrity

Eloquence, an interest in politics and global affairs, rugged good looks, the ability to connect with crowds — there’s a lot that Abraham Lincoln and George Clooney have in common. But did you know that the 16th president of the United States and the Oscar-winning actor/director/writer/producer/dreamboat also have a common ancestor? Researchers at Ancestry combed… Read more

Hola, Neighbors! 10 Famous People You Didn’t Know Were Mexican

Posted on April 30, 2015 in Celebrity

Sometimes, names can tell a whole story about a person’s ethnicity. But married surnames, as well as chosen pseudonyms, can also bury entire lineages until you do a little digging. This holds true for famous names as much as your own. While there are many Mexican-American celebrities prominently showing their Chicano roots, there are plenty… Read more

What Did People Eat In The 1800s?

Posted on April 29, 2015 in Family History

The War of 1812 concluded in 1815, and in the decades to come, the United States developed a vast transportation system, a national bank, and interstate trade. The economy blossomed, and canals, roads, cities, and industrialization expanded. England’s defeat in the War of 1812 also removed barriers to westward expansion and, tragically, accelerated Native American… Read more

Double the Fun: Why You Might Have Multiple Middle Names

Posted on April 28, 2015 in Surnames

Two middle names make a statement, one that usually reminds us of country manors, polo games, royalty, and presidents. It’s never been a common practice in the U.S. to give two middle names. With today’s digitized records, it’s become a bit of a bureaucratic mess for those who have four (or more) initials to deal… Read more

How German Are You? What Your DNA Can Tell You.

Posted on April 27, 2015 in AncestryDNA

Many boots have marched across Britain, but which invading army bequeathed the most durable legacy? The Romans left their roads. The Normans left their language. But the Germans left their DNA. Of all the armies that have invaded Britain in recorded history, only Anglo-Saxons managed to substantially alter its genetic and ethnic composition. As a… Read more

6 Unusual Last Names You Won’t Believe Exist — But Do!

Posted on April 23, 2015 in Surnames

Thanks to “Sherlock”, “The Imitation Game,” and many other movies and television shows, the name Benedict Cumberbatch found its way into our modern pop culture lexicon. Had the rising star been named Benedict Smith or Benedict Miller, would there be as many memes and GIFs? An unusual last name can set you apart from the… Read more

Switched At Birth: 7 Stories of Triumph Over This Unbelievable Phenomenon

Posted on April 20, 2015 in AncestryDNA

If you or someone you know has had a baby recently, you might have seen nurses carefully check the newborn’s tiny bracelet against his mother’s own cuff, making sure multiple times that the names and codes match up — particularly before it’s time to leave for home. This is not just hospital paranoia. Babies, perhaps… Read more

The Girl With the Tattooed Face

Posted on April 17, 2015 in Family History

The girl with the tattooed face became something of a legend, but she started out as an ordinary girl. Olive Oatman and her younger sister, Mary Ann, were kidnapped by Indians in 1851. They eventually ended up living with a tribe of the Mojave, where they were both tattooed with distinctive blue markings on their… Read more