Leonardo the Goat Herder: What If Today’s Stars Made Their Livings the Way Their Ancestors Did?

Posted by Jeanie Croasmun on October 23, 2014 in Family History

Surnames are a fairly recent invention. In most European countries they became common as populations grew and people found they needed a way to distinguish William the blacksmith from William the yeoman when telling a story about one of the their neighbors, or the taxman wanted to make sure both John the baker and John… Read more

7 Real Patent Medicines the FDA Would Never Approve

Posted by Ancestry.com on October 14, 2014 in Family History

Once upon a time, some of the greatest medical crises America faced included “tired blood” and “female weakness” — or so many patent medicines claimed. Between the end of the Civil War and the Great Depression, Americans spent millions of dollars on heavily advertised “natural” remedies whose claims of being free of addictive substances overlooked… Read more

Designer Impostors: 8 People Who Faked Membership in Famous Families

Posted by Ancestry.com on October 14, 2014 in Family History

You can choose your friends, but you can’t choose your family, the saying goes. Throughout history, though, there have been particularly skilled and audacious con artists who’ve done a darn good job of faking membership in the family of their choosing. A few succeeded in passing as royal heirs to ascend a throne, some used… Read more

A Trip to the Past: America’s 8 Best Living History Farms & Museums

Posted by Ancestry.com on October 14, 2014 in Family History

If you’ve been researching your family tree on Ancestry, chances are you’ve stumbled on a relative or two who has worked in agriculture or experienced the challenges of pioneer life. If you are looking to get a feel for how they actually lived, living history farms and museums scattered all across the U.S. that use… Read more

Hate going to the dentist? So did your ancestors.

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

Neolithic-era teeth found in modern-day Pakistan show evidence of having been drilled — with drills made of flint — and in a “remarkably effective” way, according to modern researchers who studied the 9,000-year-old teeth. Which goes to show that fear of going to the dentist probably predates written history. During the early Middle Ages in… Read more

The Killer Flu: How Did the 1918 Pandemic Affect Your Family?

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

Normally, the flu is regarded as a winter misery we endure. But the strain that circled the globe at the end of World War I proved one of the deadliest illnesses to strike humanity. “The 1918 flu epidemic puts every other epidemic of this century to shame,” observed Gina Kolata in her book Flu. “It… Read more

Famous Two-Timers: Bigamists, Polygamists, and Secret Families Throughout History

Posted by Ancestry.com on October 7, 2014 in Family History

Not every dig into a family’s past is going to come up with happy discoveries. Witness Kim Cattrall’s episode of Who Do You Think You Are? a few years ago, when she found out that after her grandfather disappeared — leaving behind a wife and three daughters — he started a new family just 40… Read more

Is That a Famous Person in Your Family Tree?

Posted by Ancestry.com 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 by Ancestry.com 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

8 Chilling Unsolved Murders in History

Posted by Ancestry.com 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