Ancestry Blog » Uncategorized http://blogs.ancestry.com/cm Wed, 01 Jul 2015 21:27:19 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.5.2 Baby Name Trends: What A Difference a Century Makeshttp://blogs.ancestry.com/cm/2015/02/05/baby-name-trends-what-a-difference-a-century-makes/ http://blogs.ancestry.com/cm/2015/02/05/baby-name-trends-what-a-difference-a-century-makes/#comments Thu, 05 Feb 2015 21:30:34 +0000 Ancestry Team http://blogs.ancestry.com/cm/?p=6872 Elizabeth and William — two strong, Anglo-Saxon names. A current queen and a future king. They’re also the only two baby names to appear in the top 10 for both 1914 and 2013, a span of 100 years. For today’s American babies, traditional names like Charlotte and Benjamin are nearly as popular as more trendy… Read more

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Baby name trends are changing

[Image: Shutterstock]

Elizabeth and William — two strong, Anglo-Saxon names. A current queen and a future king. They’re also the only two baby names to appear in the top 10 for both 1914 and 2013, a span of 100 years.

For today’s American babies, traditional names like Charlotte and Benjamin are nearly as popular as more trendy choices like Avery and Jackson.

What’s most striking in baby naming in the last few decades is the decline in popularity of names from the Bible. From 1962 to 2012, the use of New Testament names such as Mary, John, and Joseph declined by 68 percent. Old Testament names, though not dropping off quite as sharply (about 15 percent), still remain popular, with Noah, Jacob, and Daniel leading the 2013 boys’ list.

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Extending the comparison to the top 25 in each year reveals a bit more overlap between generations. Evelyn and Grace were as popular for girls then as now, and James and Joseph, while more popular at numbers 3 and 5 respectively in 1914, still made it into the top 25 in 2013.

Top 25 Girl Names

2013

  • Sophia
  • Emma
  • Olivia
  • Isabella
  • Ava
  • Mia
  • Emily
  • Abigail
  • Madison
  • Elizabeth
  • Charlotte
  • Avery
  • Sofia
  • Chloe
  • Ella
  • Harper
  • Amelia
  • Aubrey
  • Addison
  • Evelyn
  • Natalie
  • Grace
  • Hannah
  • Zoey
  • Victoria

1914

  • Mary
  • Helen
  • Dorothy
  • Margaret
  • Ruth
  • Anna
  • Mildred
  • Elizabeth
  • Frances
  • Marie
  • Evelyn
  • Alice
  • Florence
  • Virginia
  • Rose
  • Lillian
  • Louise
  • Catherine
  • Edna
  • Gladys
  • Ethel
  • Irene
  • Josephine
  • Ruby
  • Grace

Top 25 Boy Names

2013

  • Noah
  • Liam
  • Jacob
  • Mason
  • William
  • Ethan
  • Michael
  • Alexander
  • Jayden
  • Daniel
  • Elijah
  • Aiden
  • James
  • Benjamin
  • Matthew
  • Jackson
  • Logan
  • David
  • Anthony
  • Joseph
  • Joshua
  • Andrew
  • Lucas
  • Gabriel
  • Samuel

1914

  • John
  • William
  • James
  • Robert
  • Joseph
  • George
  • Charles
  • Edward
  • Frank
  • Walter
  • Thomas
  • Henry
  • Paul
  • Harold
  • Albert
  • Raymond
  • Richard
  • Arthur
  • Harry
  • Louise
  • Ralph
  • Clarence
  • Donald
  • Carl
  • Willie

Source: U.S. Social Security Administration

Tracing your family tree back through the generations is easy and free with Ancestry. Your search may provide an unexpected source of “trendy again” baby names.

After all, 1914′s Edna and Harry were 2013′s Addison and Anthony. Popular monikers from 1914 to watch for on future baby name lists? George, thanks to Britain’s Prince George of Cambridge, and Anna, thanks to Disney’s animated feature “Frozen.”

— Melanie Linn Gutowski

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Now and Then: Photos of New York City’s Historyhttp://blogs.ancestry.com/cm/2014/05/28/now-and-then-photos-of-new-york-citys-history/ http://blogs.ancestry.com/cm/2014/05/28/now-and-then-photos-of-new-york-citys-history/#comments Wed, 28 May 2014 23:08:00 +0000 Ancestry Team http://blogs.ancestry.com/cm/?p=4772 New York is one of the nation’s most recognizable cities. Yet despite a landscape filled with historic buildings, New York is a city that is always changing . Thanks to the New York City Municipal Archives, we can take a look back to the late 1930s and see what some of the Big Apple’s iconic… Read more

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New York is one of the nation’s most recognizable cities. Yet despite a landscape filled with historic buildings, New York is a city that is always changing . Thanks to the New York City Municipal Archives, we can take a look back to the late 1930s and see what some of the Big Apple’s iconic buildings looked like then and how the New York we know now compares.

Times Square

Times Square circa 1935-1941

Times Square now

The area now known as Times Square started off as the manor house and country estate of a Revolutionary War general. In the early 19th century, it became the property of real estate magnate John Jacob Astor and turned into the center of New York’s carriage industry. Back then, city officials called it Longacre Square. It wasn’t until 1904, when The New York Times moved there, that this stretch of city was renamed Times Square. Today, it’s the world’s most visited tourist attraction and the brightly illuminated home of Broadway theaters, restaurants, shops, and other entertainment. And of course, it hosts an annual New Year’s Eve celebration watched the world over.

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Metropolitan Museum of Art

Met circa 1935-1941

Met now

The Metropolitan Museum of Art is the largest art museum in the United States, with more than 2 million works of art spanning 5,000 years of world culture. The museum first opened its doors in 1882. Today, it measures a quarter-mile long with more than 2 million square feet of floor space — more than 20 times the size of the original museum.

Grand Central Terminal (aka Grand Central Station)

Grand Central circa 1935-1941

Grand Central now

When Grand Central Terminal opened in 1871, its 42nd Street location was considered a remote, barely developed outpost far north of the heart of Manhattan. But by 1900, the station was right in the middle of the action and was reconfigured to handle the growing throngs of train travelers. In 1913, Grand Central was remodeled to be the Beaux Arts beauty we know today. After World War II and through the early 1970s, crime and budget cuts took their toll on the building and there were calls to tear it down. Luckily, it was declared a national landmark in 1978 — albeit one in great need of restoration. The facelift was finally finished in 1998, when Grand Central was finally back to its former glory. Today, Grand Central Terminal is the world’s largest train station, seeing 82 million passengers a year.

Flatiron Building

Flatiron circa 1935-1941

Flatiron now

Built in 1901, the Flatiron Building was the world’s tallest building for 10 years. It earned its nickname because locals thought its wedge shape resembled a clothes iron. While it started as an office building and still serves as one today, the Flatiron Building influenced skyscraper design in the early 20th century. The Flatiron was designated a national landmark in 1989 and continues to be one of the city’s most recognizable — and most photographed — buildings.

Rockefeller Center

Rockefeller Center circa 1935-1941

Rockefeller Center now

Rockefeller Center ice skating circa 1935-1941

Rockefeller Center ice skating now

Financier and philanthropist John D. Rockefeller Jr. used his own money to build the collection of buildings now known as Rockefeller Center. Construction on the 14 Art Deco buildings started in 1930 and finished in 1939. The landmark totals more than 8 million square feet on 22 acres and is home to Radio City Music Hall, GE (as 30 Rock fans already know), and the Today Show‘s studio. Though the ice skating rink may be the center’s most well-known feature, it was actually an accident. Originally called the Sunken Plaza, it was a shopping and dining area until 1936, when management built a temporary rink to attract Christmas visitors. Its popularity led to it becoming a permanent fixture.

New York Public Library

Library circa 1935-1941

Library now

The New York Public Library is the second-largest public library in the United States — and the third-largest in the world. Former governor Samuel J. Tilden left $2.4 million to the city upon his death in 1886 to “establish and maintain a free library and reading room in the city of New York.” That’s about $62 million in today’s money. In addition to millions of books, the library also holds valuable historical items like Columbus’s 1493 letter announcing his discovery of the New World and George Washington’s original farewell address.

American Museum of Natural History

Natural History circa 1935-1941

Natural History now

Across the street from Central Park, this museum consists of 27 connected buildings with 45 exhibition halls, a planetarium, and a library. The museum was founded in 1869 by Theodore Roosevelt Sr., J.P. Morgan, congressman Moses Grinnell, and other prominent citizens. The museum owns more than 32 million specimens — so many they can’t all be displayed at the same time.

The Plaza

Plaza circa 1935-1941

Plaza now

The Plaza Hotel is one of only two New York City hotels to be designated a national historic landmark. (The Waldorf Astoria is the other.) This 20-story luxury hotel opened in 1907 and has hosted celebrity guests and political dignitaries ever since.

St. Patrick’s Cathedral

St. Patrick’s circa 1935-1941

St. Patrick’s now

After work was halted due to the Civil War, construction started on this Gothic Revival cathedral again in 1878 and finished in 1879. The prominent spires that once towered over anything else in the neighborhood were added in 1888. St. Patrick’s is the seat of the archbishop of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York and stands across the street from Rockefeller Center. In 1976, the cathedral was declared a national landmark.

Mark Twain House, 21 5th Avenue

Twain circa 1935-1941

Twain now

A brick Romanesque Revival home was designed in 1851 by Grace Church’s architect, James Renwick Jr., for his parents. In 1906, Mark Twain lived at the home, where he began dictating his autobiography to collaborator Albert Bigelow Paine. Unfortunately, the building was razed in the early 1950s and a 14-story apartment called the Brevoort building took its place.

O. Henry House, 55 Irving Place

O. Henry House circa 1935-1941

O. Henry now

Renowned short story writer William Sydney Porter (known as O. Henry) lived in this humble residence from 1903 to 1907. It’s believed he wrote “The Gift of the Magi” a half block away at Pete’s Tavern and that the tale of a couple living in a modest apartment mirrored his own time living at Irving Place. Who knows? Maybe one of the current residents of 55 Irving Place will be inspired to write a classic.

Rikers Island

Rikers circa 1935-1941

Rikers now

Rikers Island is a complex consisting of 10 jails. Though it’s famous to most people because of its frequent mentions on Law & Order episodes, Rikers started out in 1861 as a Civil War training ground. In 1884, the city bought the island to use as a location for a workhouse. It didn’t begin its current incarnation as a jail until 1932. In 1965, Salvador Dali gave Rikers a drawing as an apology for being unable to come and talk to the prisoners about art. The drawing was stolen in 2003 and replaced with a fake. While three corrections officers pleaded guilty to stealing it, the drawing has never been recovered.

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11 Unbelievable Items from the Sears Cataloghttp://blogs.ancestry.com/cm/2014/05/28/the-11-most-memorable-items-from-the-sears-catalog/ http://blogs.ancestry.com/cm/2014/05/28/the-11-most-memorable-items-from-the-sears-catalog/#comments Wed, 28 May 2014 22:54:02 +0000 Ancestry Team http://blogs.ancestry.com/cm/?p=4770 Published from 1888 to 1993, the Sears catalog featured everything from sewing machines, clothes, and sporting goods to cars, houses, and livestock. The Sears catalog is a great chronicle of our country’s history, as told through everyday items sold to ordinary people. But, looking back, many of its pages were far from ordinary. Here are… Read more

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Published from 1888 to 1993, the Sears catalog featured everything from sewing machines, clothes, and sporting goods to cars, houses, and livestock. The Sears catalog is a great chronicle of our country’s history, as told through everyday items sold to ordinary people. But, looking back, many of its pages were far from ordinary.

Here are some of the most memorable things the Sears catalog had to offer. (You can browse a selection of almost 100 years of Sears catalogs on Ancestry)

Patent medicines were common until the early 20th century. These dubious elixirs claimed to cure whatever ailed you, when in fact most of them did nothing. Some may have “worked,” thanks to harmful ingredients like opium and arsenic. The Spring 1898 catalog shown here offers a sampling of remedies that may make you shudder — either with fear or laughter. Brown’s Vegetable Cure for Female Weakness claims to rid women of everything from ordinary menstrual cramps and back pain to bizarre symptoms such as “a dread of some impending evil” and “sparks before the eyes.” Curtis’ Consumption Cure guaranteed it could eradicate tuberculosis, a promise it almost certainly couldn’t keep.

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Vegetable pills and mysterious compounds weren’t the only strange remedies making the rounds at the turn of the century. Electricity was frequently advertised a cure-all, too. This page from the Fall 1902 catalog advertises the Heidelberg Electric Belt, which sent electrical currents through men’s groin areas to cure a”weak or deranged nervous system” and double “sexual force and power.”


 
Historians and costumers use the Sears catalog to find out what the average person during an era would wear. The Fall 1900 catalog paints a lovely picture of early-20th-century women strolling through town in plush capes trimmed with bear fur and beads.


 
In addition to impossibly small-waisted maternity dresses, the Fall 1911 catalog also offered other maternity supplies because of “the reluctance of many to consult a physician until forced to do so by approaching birth.” Rubber sheets, a breast binder, olive oil, and antiseptic soap are just a few of the items included, along with a reminder that they are not a replacement for a doctor.


 
This practical catalog wasn’t all clothes and quack medicines, however. For a long time, you could buy cars through the mail from Sears. In this Fall 1909 ad, the Sears Motor Buggy boasts speeds of up to 25 miles per hour and operation so simple even a child could do it. The price was $395, or just over $10,000 in today’s dollars.


 
Until the early 1940s, you could even buy a mail-order house from Sears. The do-it-yourself kit came with everything you needed to build a Sears home, including instructions. Many of these homes are still standing today. This Fall 1932 ad shows a few of the models available for about $1,700, which would be roughly $29,000 today.


 
With your Sears car parked in the driveway of your Sears home, you could also order some Sears chickens to turn the backyard into a productive farm. The 1947 Spring catalog had baby chicks ready to order.


 
If hunting in the woods was more your style, Sears also sold a wide variety of rifles, as this Fall 1950 catalog shows. Though guns-by-mail sounds like a thing of the distant past, the catalog sold them well into 1970s.


 
Speaking of the ’70s, we all know it was a time of questionable fashion. But this outfit from the Fall 1973 catalog is particularly eye-catching, with its contrasting colors and patterns, ruffles, and wide-leg pants in a plaid that many of us might recognize from an old rec room sofa.


 
When the VCR first came on the scene, there had never been a technology quite like it. That may explain the $1,125 price tag in the Fall 1981 catalog for a machine roughly the size of a small suitcase. In today’s dollars, that would be over $2,800.


 
Cell phones used to be bigger and more expensive, too. This “small, lightweight” cell phone from the Fall 1991 catalog weighs almost two pounds. Add in the battery, and it goes up to nearly eight pounds. It cost more than $900, or $1,500 after inflation.

Then again, if the catalog were still being published today, people 20 years from now would surely balk at the price and features of an iPhone.
 
 
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Revolutionary Genetics: Daughters of the American Revolution Accepts Y-DNA Evidencehttp://blogs.ancestry.com/cm/2014/05/28/revolutionary-genetics-daughters-of-the-american-revolution-accepts-y-dna-evidence/ http://blogs.ancestry.com/cm/2014/05/28/revolutionary-genetics-daughters-of-the-american-revolution-accepts-y-dna-evidence/#comments Wed, 28 May 2014 22:42:48 +0000 Ancestry Team http://blogs.ancestry.com/cm/?p=4769 It turns out that family really is in the genes, and even the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) acknowledges that. DNA is a new frontier for the DAR, the volunteer service organization made up of women descended from Revolutionary soldiers, which recently started accepting DNA evidence as partial proof of lineage. Three types of… Read more

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It turns out that family really is in the genes, and even the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) acknowledges that.

DNA is a new frontier for the DAR, the volunteer service organization made up of women descended from Revolutionary soldiers, which recently started accepting DNA evidence as partial proof of lineage.

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Three types of DNA tests are commercially available to genealogists these days, each testing for different types of genetic markers:

  • Mitochondrial DNA (passes from mother to child)
  • Autosomal DNA (a child receives a random combination of DNA from each parent)
  • Y-DNA (passes from father to son)
  • It’s Y-DNA that the DAR is interested in because this is the DNA that a Revolutionary War veteran would definitely have passed down. Because Y-DNA passes only through the male line, women wanting to apply for DAR membership and use Y-DNA must have a male relative tested.

    Even with advances in genetic testing, Y-DNA results are still only one link in the chain of proof. An applicant still has to provide other, more traditional documentation as well because, while DNA results can link an applicant to a family, they cannot prove that a person descends from a specific individual. This is where sites like Ancestry, with its billions of records and online trees, come into the picture. The DAR also offers online genealogy classes, including “DNA and DAR: Using DNA as a Piece of the Evidence for a DAR application,” to bring interested potential members up to speed as they use 21st-century science to connect with 18th-century patriots.

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    8 Celebrity Pictures from Our Yearbook Archivehttp://blogs.ancestry.com/cm/2014/05/28/8-celebrity-pictures-from-our-yearbook-archive/ http://blogs.ancestry.com/cm/2014/05/28/8-celebrity-pictures-from-our-yearbook-archive/#comments Wed, 28 May 2014 18:10:37 +0000 Ancestry Team http://blogs.ancestry.com/cm/?p=4761 The searchable collection of more than 50,000 U.S. school yearbooks on Ancestry includes a celebrity gallery, where you can see the likes of Madonna dancing with her high school classmates and Jake Gyllenhaal getting smooched by a couple of seventh-grade fans. It’s fun to see where someone famous went to school, what they looked like… Read more

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    The searchable collection of more than 50,000 U.S. school yearbooks on Ancestry includes a celebrity gallery, where you can see the likes of Madonna dancing with her high school classmates and Jake Gyllenhaal getting smooched by a couple of seventh-grade fans. It’s fun to see where someone famous went to school, what they looked like as a teenager, and whether they played the oboe or wrestled.

    Even better, with more than 7 million images, the Ancestry yearbook archive does more than just provide a peek into celebrities’ earlier lives; it contains pictures and information about a lot of your ancestors, as well.

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    To whet your appetite for your own search, check out how these eight celebrities looked back when they were still “one of us.”

    1. David Letterman was 16 in 1965, attended Broad Ripple High School in Indianapolis, and looked just how you’d expect him to look. During high school, his family lived near the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and he worked as a stock boy at the local Atlas Supermarket. One of his classmates was Marilyn Tucker, who later married Dan Quayle. Letterman went on to attend Ball State University and later endowed a scholarship there, especially for what he jokingly called “C students.” The talk show host started working in late-night television in 1982.

    2. In 1969, when Oprah Winfrey was a sophomore at Nicolet High School in Glendale, Wisconsin, her class got raves for its float in the school’s annual “Tip-Off” weekend. No details on whether Oprah was directly involved (or what they were tipping off). She later attended Nashville East High School, where she was elected school president and met President Nixon as part of her public speaking class. When she was a senior, someone from the local radio station heard her rehearsing with her drama class and offered her a radio news job. Soon after that, she entered a public speaking contest and won. The prize was a scholarship to Tennessee State University, where she majored in speech communications and performing arts.

    3. Jerome Seinfeld (you probably know him as Jerry) attended Massapequa High School in New York. A couple of years before this 1972 photo was taken, he volunteered in a kibbutz in Israel. His father, Kalman Seinfeld, was a sign maker of Hungarian Jewish descent and his mother, Betty Hesney, of Syrian Jewish descent; her family lived in Aleppo. After high school, he went to SUNY Oswego and then Queens College, City University of New York, where he appeared in college productions and got a degree in communications and theater. The comedian, actor, and writer is best known for his semi-autobiographical sitcom Seinfeld, which ran from 1989 through 1998.

    4. Actor Tom Hanks (here in 1974) went to Skyline High School in Oakland, California, where he acted in a high school production of South Pacific. He told Rolling Stone magazine he was unpopular with both teachers and other students and said, “I was a geek, a spaz. I was horribly, painfully, terribly shy. At the same time, I was the guy who’d yell out funny captions during filmstrips. But I didn’t get into trouble. I was always a real good kid and pretty responsible.” After high school, he went on to study theater and went to a lot of plays by himself. “I wouldn’t take dates with me,” he said. “I’d just drive to a theater, buy myself a ticket, sit in the seat and read the program, and then get into the play completely.”

    5. Actress Demi Moore (Demi Guynes at the time) was a freshman at Redondo Union High School in California in 1977. Then, her family moved to West Hollywood, and she transferred to and then dropped out of Fairfax High School at age 16 to pursue an acting career. She moved to Europe and signed up with the Elite Modeling Agency, then was inspired by her next-door neighbor, the 17-year-old German actress Nastassja Kinski, to take drama classes.

    6. Halle Berry (shown here in 1984) attended Bedford High School in Bedford, Ohio. Her parents divorced when she was 4 and after that she was raised by her mother, who was a psychiatric nurse. The actress was originally named Maria Halle Berry, and then her parents legally changed her name to Halle Maria Berry when she was 5. “Halle” came from the local landmark Halle’s Department Store in her hometown of Cleveland. After Bedford High, Halle worked in a department store, went to Cuyahoga Community College, and then started entering — and winning — beauty contests. She went on to a successful modeling and acting career and won an Academy Award in 2002.

    7. Oscar-winning actress Julia Roberts (shown here at Campbell High School in Smyrna, Georgia, 1985) was born in Smyrna to parents who ran a children’s acting school in Decatur, Georgia. While expecting Julia, they taught the daughter of Martin Luther King Jr. and Coretta Scott King, and in appreciation, Mrs. King paid Mrs. Roberts’ hospital bill when Julia was born. Julia wanted to be a veterinarian as a child and played the clarinet in her school’s band. She’s been named one of People magazine’s “50 Most Beautiful People in the World” 11 times.

    8. In 1988, Calvin Cordozar Broadus Jr. was 17 years old and a student at Long Beach Polytechnic High School in southern California. He evolved into the rapper, singer-songwriter, and actor Snoop Dogg four years later after being discovered by Dr. Dre; “Snoopy” was his childhood nickname. He first sang at Golgotha Trinity Baptist Church, and he played the piano from the time he was a young child. He started rapping in sixth grade.

     
     
     
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    80-Year-Old Mystery Solved By a Simple DNA Testhttp://blogs.ancestry.com/cm/2014/05/27/80-year-old-mystery-solved-by-a-simple-dna-test/ http://blogs.ancestry.com/cm/2014/05/27/80-year-old-mystery-solved-by-a-simple-dna-test/#comments Tue, 27 May 2014 20:11:50 +0000 Ancestry Team http://blogs.ancestry.com/cm/?p=4751 Angelina Jolie unwittingly unlocked a mystery that an 80-year-old man had been trying to solve his entire life. Along with a friend, aspiring New York actress Cathryn Mudon took a DNA test after hearing Jolie was screened for the breast cancer gene. “We just did it on a whim,” she later told Dallas television station… Read more

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    Angelina Jolie unwittingly unlocked a mystery that an 80-year-old man had been trying to solve his entire life.

    Along with a friend, aspiring New York actress Cathryn Mudon took a DNA test after hearing Jolie was screened for the breast cancer gene. “We just did it on a whim,” she later told Dallas television station WFAA.

    The same firm had also received a DNA sample from Patrick “PJ” Holland. The retired businessman hoped the test would help reveal his origins. Given up by his mother at birth during the Great Depression, Holland grew up in an orphanage in Cincinnati, Ohio. One day a year particularly depressed him. “All the orphans had people visit them on ‘people day’ except me,” he explained to WFAA’s Teresa Woodward, “because there was no relatives.” The misery led Holland to run away and, after lying about his age, join the army at 16.

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    After his military stint, Holland was informally “adopted” into a Cincinnati family. His “niece,” Marilyn Souders, devoted decades to help “Uncle PJ” find his birth family. Thousands of hours of research led them as far as his mother’s name: Agnes. Despite the frustrations, they never gave up hope that someday, some surviving relatives would turn up.

    When a match was made between Holland and Mudon’s DNA, Souders was stunned. “I logged in one morning,” she told WFAA, “and this big pop up comes on and said ‘you have a first cousin match.’ I’m like ‘Oh my God! I can’t believe this!’”

    Souders quickly contacted Mudon. A family reunion was organized in Texas last fall, and the blanks filled in.

    Agnes Holland ran away from her family in 1933 to give birth to PJ. As an unwed mother during that era, it’s easy to imagine why, out of financial concern, she gave up her baby. Agnes’s attempts to visit PJ at the orphanage were discouraged by the nuns who ran it; they claimed the contact upset him.

    The resulting media coverage of Holland and Mudon’s connection spurred contact with more relatives, providing him with the familial connections he always desired. “It’s kind of like opening up doors that were never opened,” he reflected.

    And all it took was a little nudge from Angelina Jolie.

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    12 Stunning Civil War Factshttp://blogs.ancestry.com/cm/2014/05/21/12-stunning-civil-war-facts/ http://blogs.ancestry.com/cm/2014/05/21/12-stunning-civil-war-facts/#comments Wed, 21 May 2014 23:23:48 +0000 Ancestry Team http://blogs.ancestry.com/cm/?p=4743 The Civil War was the bloodiest war in our country’s history. It is often called “the first modern war” because of efficient and deadly weapons that became available for the first time. Just how terrible was this war that pitted brother against brother? Consider these 12 jaw-dropping facts: 1. More soldiers died in the Civil… Read more

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    The Civil War was the bloodiest war in our country’s history. It is often called “the first modern war” because of efficient and deadly weapons that became available for the first time. Just how terrible was this war that pitted brother against brother? Consider these 12 jaw-dropping facts:

    1. More soldiers died in the Civil War than any other American conflict — and two-thirds of them were killed by disease.

    About 625,000 men died in the Civil War. That’s more Americans than died in both World Wars, Korea, and Vietnam combined. This amounted to 2 percent of the population at the time, which would be the equivalent to about 6 million Americans dying today. Battles weren’t as deadly as disease, however. Diarrhea, typhoid fever, lung inflammation, dysentery, and childhood diseases like chicken pox were the cause of 67 percent of the deaths. And if those numbers aren’t bad enough, new estimates suggest that the death total may be higher.

    2. Gettysburg wasn’t the only unusually bloody battle.

    More Americans were killed in two days at the Battle of Shiloh than in all previous American wars combined. The Battle of Antietam was only one day long but left 12,401 Union soldiers killed, missing, or wounded — which is higher than typical estimates of Allied casualties on D-Day. With 23,000 casualties overall, it was the bloodiest single day of the Civil War. At Cold Harbor, Virginia, 7,000 men fell in just 20 minutes.

    3. Nearly 56,000 soldiers died in prison camps from starvation and disease — a quarter of those deaths happened at one camp.

    No American prisoner of war camp had ever held more than 100 men at a time prior to 1861. During the Civil War, each camp held thousands. Although they weren’t intentionally killing prisoners, ignorance of proper sanitation, overcrowding, and a lack of resources led to an outrageous number of soldier deaths. Camp Sumter in Georgia was the largest of the 150 military prisons and also the deadliest. Nearly 40,000 soldiers were imprisoned there, and 13,000, or about one-third, of them died.

    4. An estimated 40 percent of Civil War dead were never identified.

    With advances in weaponry and the sheer number of men killed, many bodies were damaged beyond recognition or left to rot in piles at the battlefield.

    5. Amputation was the treatment of choice for broken or severely wounded limbs.

    There were so many wounded men that doctors found it impossible to do time-consuming procedures like removing part of a broken bone or some damaged flesh. More than half of leg amputations at the thigh or knee ended up being fatal. That number shot up to 83 percent if the amputation was done at the hip joint.

    6. Surgery wasn’t sterile.

    Doctors of the day didn’t understand sterilization and believed infection was caused by contaminated air, so cleaning surgical tools often meant wiping them on a dirty apron. There weren’t any antibiotics either. So if a doctor didn’t cut off a soldier’s limb, there was a good chance he’d lose it to infection or gangrene anyway.

    7. There was no anesthesia on the battlefield.

    Anesthesia wasn’t available, so patients were given chloroform, ether, or, failing that, a glass of whiskey and a bullet to bite down on.

    8. African-Americans made up less than 1 percent of the North’s population but were 10 percent of the Union Army.

    Black men weren’t allowed to join the army until 1863. About 180,000 black men, more than 85 percent of eligible African-Americans in the Northern states, fought. While white soldiers earned $13 a month, black soldiers earned only $10 — and then were charged a $3 clothing fee that lowered their monthly pay to $7. The highest paid black soldier made less than the lowest paid white one. After protesting by refusing to accept their wages and gaining support from abolitionist Congressmen, black soldiers finally received equal pay in 1864 — paid retroactively to their enlistment date.

    9. About 20 percent of soldiers were under 18.

    The Confederacy had no minimum enlistment age. Even though the Union Army technically required soldiers to be 18, many officers looked the other way when it came to underage soldiers. Some younger soldiers signed up as drummers or buglers. Musicians weren’t supposed to fight, but when the battles began, they often dropped their instruments and grabbed a weapon.

    10. Women secretly fought in the war.

    Both sides prohibited women from enlisting. However, that didn’t stop them from joining in disguise. Since they were incognito, exact numbers aren’t known. But some estimates say 400 women served in the war by pretending to be men. Many certainly did it out of a sense of loyalty to their cause, but historians say some women were just in it to make ends meet during desperate times.

    11. The estimated cost of the war was $6.19 billion ($146 billion in today’s dollars).

    While the cost in human lives was the most tragic, the Civil War also had a high financial toll. Before the war, the U.S. government spent roughly $1 million a week. By the end of the war, the federal government was spending $3.5 million a day. The South was the primary battlefield of the war and suffered greatly with $10 billion in property damage and two-fifths of its livestock destroyed.

    12. As of 2014, the Department of Veterans Affairs is still paying a Civil War pension.

    The last surviving child of a Union Veteran still receives a small, monthly pension payment 149 years after the Civil War ended.

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    Are You a Child of the ’90s — the 1890s?http://blogs.ancestry.com/cm/2014/05/21/are-you-a-child-of-the-90s-the-1890s/ http://blogs.ancestry.com/cm/2014/05/21/are-you-a-child-of-the-90s-the-1890s/#comments Wed, 21 May 2014 23:19:18 +0000 Ancestry Team http://blogs.ancestry.com/cm/?p=4738 There were a lot of great leaps forward in the 1890s, or the “gay ’90s” as they are sometimes nostalgically called: exciting new forms of transportation (rail, steamboat, electric street car, bikes and even the start of the “horseless carriage”); department stores and mail-order catalogues made lots of new goods available; and new forms of… Read more

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    There were a lot of great leaps forward in the 1890s, or the “gay ’90s” as they are sometimes nostalgically called: exciting new forms of transportation (rail, steamboat, electric street car, bikes and even the start of the “horseless carriage”); department stores and mail-order catalogues made lots of new goods available; and new forms of communication, like telephone and typewriter, advanced the way people connect.

    As distant as that era sounds, there’s a lot about the 1890s that we’d recognize and enjoy. Here’s how to tell if you’re a child of the ‘90s:

    You can’t wait for the next season of Sherlock on TV. Arthur Conan Doyle introduced the world to his iconic detective Sherlock Holmes in a series of short stories that were first published in 1891 in the Strand magazine in England. Doyle’s peerless master of deductive reasoning has continued to capture readers’ imaginations ever since.

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    You like to ride your bike. The 1890s, sometimes called “the golden age of bicycles,” is when women first widely started riding bikes. In fact, Queen Victoria owned a “Royal Salvo” tricycle, one of those wild numbers with two enormous side wheels and a tiny one in the front. Women’s need for appropriate cycling attire, by the way, led to a loosening up of the tight, bustled, severe dress of previous decades. We were still a long way from Lycra, but women did start wearing bloomers (though billowing ones) to ride bikes, instead of long skirts that could get caught up in the tires.

    You shop at Macy’s. The famous chain department store started in 1858 as one small, but fancy New York City dry goods shop and just kept on growing.

    You go to the movies. The 1890s saw the beginnings of the movie industry. The kinetoscope, an early motion picture exhibition device invented by Thomas Edison, was first introduced to the public in 1893 and 1894. The famous movie, Arrival of a Train at La Ciotat, terrified audiences in 1896.

    You like Tin Pan Alley, Broadway show tunes, ragtime, or Sousa marches. These were all popular genres in the 1890s.

    You wear suede shoes. Suede hit the footwear market in 1890 and quickly became a popular material. Elvis Presley has the 1890s to thank for one hit song.

    Your favorite author is Oscar Wilde or H.G. Wells. Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray, Lady Windermere’s Fan and The Importance of Being Earnest all came out in the 1890s. Meanwhile, Wells published War of the Worlds in 1897. The author was ahead of his time, as it was one of the first works to feature a conflict between humans and aliens.

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    14 Fascinating Professions From Historyhttp://blogs.ancestry.com/cm/2014/05/21/14-amazing-professions-from-history/ http://blogs.ancestry.com/cm/2014/05/21/14-amazing-professions-from-history/#comments Wed, 21 May 2014 22:51:09 +0000 Ancestry Team http://blogs.ancestry.com/cm/?p=4734 Have you ever pondered what kind of job you would have had if you lived a hundred or more years ago? There wasn’t a big call back then for IT professionals, auto repair shops, or neurosurgery. But there was still plenty to do in order to keep society running smoothly — even if that sometimes… Read more

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    Aluminum foundry puddler in Cincinnati, Ohio

    Aluminum foundry puddler
    [Image credit: Library of Congress]

    Have you ever pondered what kind of job you would have had if you lived a hundred or more years ago? There wasn’t a big call back then for IT professionals, auto repair shops, or neurosurgery. But there was still plenty to do in order to keep society running smoothly — even if that sometimes looked very different from what we’re accustomed to today.

    Here are some fascinating professions from history:

    1. A saggar maker’s bottom knocker was someone who helped the maker of saggars, which were clay boxes used to hold pottery while it was being kiln-fired. The bottom knocker put clay in a metal hoop, and then literally knocked it into shape to create the saggar’s base.

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    2. Back before there were affordable and reliable alarm clocks, a knocker-up made a few pence a week in England and Ireland by using a long, lightweight stick, often bamboo, to tap on their clients’ upper floor windows and wake them up so they could get to work on time.

    3. Toad doctors were practitioners of a specific tradition of medicinal folk magic, and operated in western England until the end of the 1800s. They primarily tried to heal the skin disease called “The King’s Evil” (scrofula), but also dabbled in curing other ailments caused by witchcraft. They did this by placing a live toad, or a toad leg, in a muslin bag and hanging it around the sick person’s neck.

    4. A ballad monger made a living selling printed ballad sheets on the street.

    5. A papaya man dealt in trade with New Guinea (the name is derived from Papua New Guinea)

    6. A puddler helped make drainage channels, canals, or raised river banks waterproof by dredging clay from river bottoms or digging it up from nearby pits and “puddling” it along the waterways.

    7. Puddlers might have worked alongside slubbers, who cleared drainage channels (“slub” being another word for mud or ooze).

    8. A tasseler made tassels for furnishings.

    9. A tosher was someone who scavenged in sewers (often with his or her whole family), especially in London during the Victorian period. They would go down into the sewers looking for small things to sell. This is similar to what mudlarks did, though they dredged the banks of the Thames River when the tide was out, wading through unprocessed sewage and sometimes even dead bodies to find small treasures they could sell.

    10. An abecedarian taught the alphabet, of course!

    11. A bloodman or bloodletter opened a vein to let blood out of a sick person’s body, and often used leeches, as well; this was believed to be a possible cure in days before antibiotics and other scientific medical advances.

    12. An eyer carved out the eye of a sewing needle.

    13. If you were a hankyman, you earned your living as a traveling magician in Victorian and Edwardian England.

    14. And — it’s possibly the best job title ever — the fear nothing maker was a weaver who created a special kind of strong, thick wool cloth called “fearnought” or “dreadnought.” It was woven of wool that was often mixed with lesser materials and was used as protective clothing or as lining in areas prone to explosion or leaking.

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    Simple Family Questions Uncover Shocking Family Secrets for KSTP Minneapolis Anchor Bill Lunnhttp://blogs.ancestry.com/cm/2014/05/21/simple-family-questions-uncover-shocking-family-secrets-for-bill-lunn-news-anchor/ http://blogs.ancestry.com/cm/2014/05/21/simple-family-questions-uncover-shocking-family-secrets-for-bill-lunn-news-anchor/#comments Wed, 21 May 2014 15:21:43 +0000 Paul Rawlins http://blogs.ancestry.com/cm/?p=4691 When news anchor Bill Lunn approached ancestry experts for help answering questions about his great-great-grandfather, he hoped to learn more about his family’s origins. What he didn’t expect was a transatlantic treasure hunt that would reveal shocking family secrets and monumentally change his own sense of identity. Lunn knew that his great-great-grandfather, Nikolas, immigrated to… Read more

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    When news anchor Bill Lunn approached ancestry experts for help answering questions about his great-great-grandfather, he hoped to learn more about his family’s origins. What he didn’t expect was a transatlantic treasure hunt that would reveal shocking family secrets and monumentally change his own sense of identity.

    Lunn knew that his great-great-grandfather, Nikolas, immigrated to the United States from Sweden and settled somewhere in Minnesota, but the trail of his family history had run cold there. Where did Nikolas settle when he immigrated? Where did he live in Sweden, and why did he leave? These were some of the questions Lunn hoped to answer, and answer he did.

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    Ancestry experts were able to use an old property map from Jackson County, Minnesota, to locate the exact plot of land Nikolas, also called Nils, owned and farmed for at least ten years after immigrating to the U.S. For Lunn, this discovery put to rest a lot of personal questions about his origins. “It’s like a mystery is solved,” he said, standing on the property where his ancestor once stood. But the hunt for answers didn’t end there.

    Using immigration records, Ancestry experts were able to show Lunn that his surname, which he supposed to be passed down to him from generations, was not originally Lunn, but Jonsson. The change happened due to an error in immigration paperwork, which most likely switched Nils’ last name with the city in Sweden he came from: Lund.

    This stunning revelation “absolutely floored” Lunn and blew open the door to more family secrets that had previously been undiscoverable. Knowing his great-great-grandfather’s true name enabled Lunn to discover more details of his Nils’ life, such as Nils’ father’s tragic death when Nils was only four years old. He also learned that Nils was a fisherman in Sweden before emigrating in the hopes of creating a better life for his family in America.

    Lunn’s living that better life himself, he admits, as he saves a bit of soil from Nils’ Minnesota farmland. It’s a small reminder of where the chance for that good life came from—and from whom.

    You can check out the complete story and follow Bill on his exciting path to discovering his family history here.
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