Past Articles

You Won’t Believe Why Last Names End in “Son” or “Sen”

Posted on June 9, 2015 in Surnames

What does a name ending in -son or -sen tell us about our ancestors and where they came from in Scandinavia? First, we know that this sort of last name is a patronymic, a surname formed by adding -son to someone’s father’s name, and it means “son of.” Trace such a name back far enough,… Read more

You Might Be Royalty … and Not Even Know It!

Posted on May 27, 2015 in AncestryDNA, Family History

Many people who begin tracing their family history wonder if they’re related to royalty. But according to mathematicians and geneticists, the question isn’t whether we’re descended from kings and queens — but how. That’s because the web of humanity, in all its complexity, ties us all together, so any individual living today with European ancestry… Read more

Is Your Rare Surname About to Go Extinct?

Posted on May 21, 2015 in Surnames

You probably don’t know anyone with the name Chips, Hatman, Woodbead, or Nithercott. That’s because they’re among the approximately 200,000 surnames that have disappeared in England and Wales since 1901. Hundreds more may soon follow. The actors Bill Nighy, Helen Mirren, and Hugh Bonneville, for instance, all have endangered last names on the verge of… Read more

How Your DNA Can Reconstruct Your Great-Great-Grandfather’s Genetic Code

Posted on May 21, 2015 in AncestryDNA

Most people consider their children to be their legacy: people to pass on a mother’s trademark dimple, kids to carry on the family business, someone to tend the headstone. David Speegle, an Alabama farmer born more than 200 years ago, now has a distinctly 21st-century legacy, thanks to AncestryDNA. By combining genetics and genealogy, Ancestry… Read more

How to Find Out the True Story Behind Your Last Name

Posted on May 13, 2015 in Surnames

Have you always wondered if your last name (surname) had a story it was just waiting to tell you? With just a few key strokes, you can easily put your family surname into the Last Names Meanings and Origins widget on Ancestry and get quickly on your way to finding out answers to the mysteries of… Read more

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