Past Articles

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

10 Weird but True Facts About DNA

Posted on September 16, 2014 in AncestryDNA

AncestryDNA does amazing things. With just a few drops of saliva, it can trace your genes to Senegal or Scandinavia. It can reveal hidden branches of your family tree and connect you to previously unknown third cousins. But these revelations are just the beginning of your complex genetic map. Here are some stunning but true… Read more

Born on the Wrong Side of the Blanket? 8 Illegitimate Offspring Who Made History

Posted on September 15, 2014 in Family History

If you think there’s reason to be ashamed of any illegitimate ancestors you find stashed in your family’s closet, then, in the words of Game of Thrones‘ Ygritte, “You know nothing, Jon Snow” (a bastard himself). Even Prince William, the future King of England, can trace his roots (on Diana’s side) back to two of… Read more

Oh, Ethel! 10 Baby Girl Names That Used Be Popular

Posted on September 9, 2014 in Family History

Much like fashion, baby names follow trends. These days, classic-sounding names like Olivia, Sophia, and Ava are in vogue, but some more traditional names that were once on top have completely fallen to the wayside. Now, a name like Minnie (which you may come across frequently if you are digging around your Ancestry family tree… Read more