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Posted by wexon on July 22, 2014 in Family History

What Can Your Last Name Tell You In Western Europe, surnames first came about in Medieval times as civilizations grew larger and it became necessary to distinguish between people. Sometimes, names were based on occupation: a blacksmith may have been “John le Smith” (John the Smith) which became, over the generations, “Smith,” and a person… Read more

12 Bizarre Dining Customs That Are Now Extinct

Posted by Ancestry.com on July 20, 2014 in Family History

[Photo credit: Shutterstock] 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… Read more

Hot Summer Nights: The 1890 Ice Famine

Posted by Ancestry.com on July 20, 2014 in Family History

In the summer, it’s hard to imagine going without ice. But until the early 20th century, ice was a luxury and could be hard to come by. In the 1800s, it was “harvested” from ponds and streams, the frozen surface broken into huge chunks and shipped to cities to the south. This system could be… Read more

Phoenix NBC News Anchor Kim Covington Uncovers Her Slave Roots—and a Surprising Celebrity Connection

Posted by Ancestry.com on July 11, 2014 in Family History

Phoenix NBC news anchor Kim Covington knew nothing about her Covington name or heritage, and like many African-Americans, she believed it was impossible to find out more. But when family history experts from Ancestry.com began a search into her past, what they discovered not only answered questions about Kim’s family tree, but also, she says,… Read more

What Was It Like to Live in 18th-Century England?

Posted by Ancestry.com on July 10, 2014 in Family History

The Dashwood sisters, characters from Jane Austen’s novel Sense and Sensibility, lived rather elegantly in 1700s England. Is that what your 18th-century ancestors’ day-to-day lives were like? There were two very different lifestyles in 18th-century England: that of the rich and that of the poor. With the Industrial Revolution, which started in the middle of… Read more

1934: A Bad Year for America’s Most Wanted

Posted by Ancestry.com on July 10, 2014 in Family History

It was 1934, the height of the Depression. FDR was president, the Apollo Theater had just opened in Harlem, and all year long, newspapers were full of articles about the “Dillinger Gang” and America’s Most Wanted criminals. It was a busy year for bad guys, and ultimately a bad one for them, too, as many… Read more

9 Things You Don’t Know About Your Clothes

Posted by Ancestry.com on July 9, 2014 in Family History

In many ways, clothes defined our ancestors. What they wore gave clues to their class, occupation, and status in the world. And to some degree, not much has changed. Today, we have uniforms for certain jobs, outer labels on clothing that indicate their expense, and different styles that define how we (and others) see ourselves.… Read more

9 Reasons Your Great-Great-Grandparents Were More Awesome Than You

Posted by Ancestry.com on July 9, 2014 in Family History

As 21st-century adults, it’s hard to fathom the kind of lives our great-great-grandparents led. While there were many difficulties they had to contend with, there were also many advantages to a pre-digital life in the 1870s and 1880s. Here are 9 reasons why Great-great-grandma and Grandpa were more awesome than we are: 1. They could… Read more

8 Jobs You Were Born Too Late to Get

Posted by Ancestry.com on July 9, 2014 in Family History

Some jobs just aren’t meant to last. Technology trims a trade. Fashion fickleness frustrates growth. Reduced resources wreak havoc on an industry. In the 21st century, no one’s surprised when automation and offshoring render occupations obsolete. But that process of creative destruction has always occurred. Steel replaces bone. Siri the talking iPhone replaces Sally the… Read more

Celebrate Homecoming Scotland by Researching Your Family History

Posted by Ancestry.com on July 8, 2014 in Family History

This is a big year for Scotland: Its historic independence vote will be held September 18, with the country deciding whether to go it alone or remain part of Great Britain. The vote has prompted a lot of soul-searching about the region’s past and what it means to be Scottish, so it’s appropriate that 2014… Read more