Smith, Jones, and Garcia: 2 New Surnames Tell America’s Immigration Story

Posted by on February 18, 2014 in Uncategorized

Changing Surnames Reflect America’s Immigrant Influence We all know how popular baby names come and go. One year little girls are named Madison. A few years later, and we get millions of Olivias. It’s a different story when it comes to surnames in the United States. Or at least it has been—until recently. For 150… Read more

Cate Blanchett: A Spy in the Family

Posted by on February 13, 2014 in Uncategorized

Golden Globe and Academy Award-winning actress Cate Blanchett has played plenty of historical characters, including Queen Elizabeth, Katherine Hepburn, and even Bob Dylan. Her portrayal as art-historian-turned-spy Rose Valland in Monuments Men is another one—only this time, the role comes with some peculiar historical connections to Blanchett’s own deep past. Rose Valland became one of… Read more

Postcards from Prison

Posted by on February 5, 2014 in Uncategorized

Having a great time. Wish you were here! We send postcards (or we used to) to show others where we’ve been. Or we collect them to remember where we’ve been ourselves. Vendors print and sell them so we can do both. Which begs the question: Exactly when did prisons and penitentiaries become tourist attractions? To… Read more

Life Imitating Art in Monuments Men

Posted by on February 5, 2014 in Uncategorized

Featuring Hollywood heavyweights George Clooney, Cate Blanchett, and Matt Damon, the film Monuments Men brings to the screen the true story of an unlikely platoon of soldiers brought together to save priceless pieces of art from being destroyed by the Nazis during World War II. Now researchers at Ancestry have turned up some unlikely family… Read more

Do Downton Abbey’s Stars Belong Upstairs or Down?

Posted by on January 28, 2014 in Uncategorized

Where do you belong, upstairs or down? Family history experts have revealed the real-life ancestry of several of the biggest stars of the hit TV show Downton Abbey. The findings indicate that • In real life Elizabeth McGovern’s family would much more likely be “upstairs” dining with the Crawleys than would fellow actress Sophie McShera.… Read more

Postcards from Hell (and Other U.S. Hotspots)

Posted by on January 17, 2014 in Uncategorized

Greetings from Hell! Stories of exactly how Hell, Michigan, got its name vary. Some say it was the farmers’ wives way of describing their husbands’ visits to Geroge Reeves’ grist mill and distillery. Others put it down to a comment made by a German tourist about a sunny day (“So schön hell!”). Either way, the name’s been on the books and… Read more

U.S. Patent Office OKs Device for Texting With the Dead

Posted by on January 9, 2014 in Uncategorized

February 1891: There it is, tucked between rights granted to Hans Bittinger for his Dust-Collector and Marcelin Castelnau’s Ore Concentrator: the Ouija board, patent No. 446,054 for Toy or Game, filed by Elijah J. Bond. The Ouija board road to popularity on a wave of American spiritualism that some trace back to sisters Kate and… Read more

Selena Gomez Comes from a Long Line of Givers

Posted by on January 6, 2014 in Uncategorized

Selena Gomez is no stranger to kindness—in fact, it runs in the family. The Cornett family, who adopted Selena’s mother at birth, has a legacy of charitable giving that began generations before Selena became a UNICEF Ambassador in 2009. Selena’s 3rd great-grandmother, Hannah Kistler Cornett, lived in rural Oklahoma at the height of the Dust… Read more

Best of Bette: Bette Midler High School Yearbook Photos

Posted by on December 30, 2013 in Uncategorized

Bette Midler, the Divine Miss M, was a pretty big deal at Honolulu’s Radford High School before she became a pretty big deal just about everywhere else. She ruled the senior class as class president.   And she showed she had brains as well as talent as a member of the National Honor Society.  … Read more

High School Yearbook Photos: Kings and Queens of Comedy

Posted by Jeanie Croasmun on December 30, 2013 in Uncategorized

Steve Martin, Roseanne Barr, Carol Burnnet, Robin Williams, Molly Shannon, and John Belushi stared in these high school yearbook photos before they stared on screen. Great commedians, are they born or made? Based on these yearbook photos, it’s hard to say. Some of these kings and queens of comedy obviously got off to an early… Read more