Ancestry.com Blog http://blogs.ancestry.com/cm Wed, 23 Jul 2014 16:46:14 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.5.2 What’s Trendinghttp://blogs.ancestry.com/cm/2014/07/22/whats-trending/ http://blogs.ancestry.com/cm/2014/07/22/whats-trending/#comments Tue, 22 Jul 2014 20:52:28 +0000 wexon http://blogs.ancestry.com/cm/?p=5247 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

The post What’s Trending appeared first on Ancestry.com Blog.

]]>
What Can Your Last Name Tell You

what does your last name meanIn 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 named Appleby lived by or tended the apple orchard… Actor Christopher Reeve’s ancestor, the one to first take the surname, was most likely a sheriff, and Sarah Jessica Parker’s early medieval ancestor probably tended a park.

[Read more. Discover the surnames and stories in your family]


Titanic Mystery Solved with DNA Testing

titanicDNA solved a 70-year-old question of whether Loraine Allison survived the Titanic crash. Many have wondered what happened to the two-year-old little girl who disappeared from the crash more than 100 years ago.

The story begins with Hudson and Bess taking their two kids, Trevor, seven months, and Loraine, two years of age, across the Atlantic on the Titanic. At the time of the sinking, it is said that Trevor was rushed to a lifeboat by their maid and that the other three died on the boat. However, only Hudson’s body was found, leaving the mystery of what happened to Loraine and her mother.

[Read more. Uncover your family secrets by taking an AncestryDNA test.]

 


6 Things You Didn’t Know About Bonnie and Clyde

bonnie and clydeThe young gangsters in love tore across the American Southwest during the Great Depression, leaving a trail of robberies and murders. Newspapers demonized Clyde Barrow and his “gunwoman” Bonnie Parker as “notorious desperados” and “dangerous killers,” so the following six facts might surprise you.

The pair attained such notoriety that <strong>hordes of people flocked to the scene of their death and later to the coroner’s to retrieve “souvenirs.” Some attempted to cut off Barrow’s ear or finger; others took snippets of Parker’s blood-soaked dress or shattered window glass. One man offered Barrow’s father over $30,000 for Barrow’s body—the equivalent of over $600,000 today.

[Read more. Investigate your own outlaw ancestors]

The post What’s Trending appeared first on Ancestry.com Blog.

]]>
http://blogs.ancestry.com/cm/2014/07/22/whats-trending/feed/ 0
8 Celebrities With Asian Ancestryhttp://blogs.ancestry.com/cm/2014/07/21/8-celebrities-with-asian-ancestry/ http://blogs.ancestry.com/cm/2014/07/21/8-celebrities-with-asian-ancestry/#comments Mon, 21 Jul 2014 15:36:29 +0000 Ancestry.com http://blogs.ancestry.com/cm/?p=5230 For decades, Asian characters in Hollywood films and television shows were commonly played by non-Asian actors, and then for a few more decades, the only Asians portrayed were martial artists in action flicks. Even in today’s increasingly multicultural America (according to the 2010 census, 5.6 percent of the population is Asian, and it’s the fastest-growing… Read more

The post 8 Celebrities With Asian Ancestry appeared first on Ancestry.com Blog.

]]>
For decades, Asian characters in Hollywood films and television shows were commonly played by non-Asian actors, and then for a few more decades, the only Asians portrayed were martial artists in action flicks. Even in today’s increasingly multicultural America (according to the 2010 census, 5.6 percent of the population is Asian, and it’s the fastest-growing racial group in the United States ), Asians are still underrepresented in screen roles, making up only 3.8 percent of the TV and movie landscape. And it’s not for a lack of talent — there are plenty of actors of full or partial Asian heritage working in showbiz. Here are 8 Asian-American stars making the industry ever so slightly more diverse.

  • 14-Day Free Trial
    GIVE ME ACCESS

[Photo credit: Crespo Events LLC on Flickr]

Lucy Liu: Actress, painter, and humanitarian Lucy Liu speaks six languages, including Mandarin, which she spoke with her parents, who are from Beijing and Shanghai. Liu got her big break on the television show Ally McBeal in 1998, then co-starred in the Charlie’s Angels film reboot. She currently co-stars as Joan Watson in CBS’s Sherlock Holmes modernization, Elementary. Today, the New York native travels the world as a UNICEF ambassador — which is no surprise, considering she grew up in Queens, one of the most ethnically diverse areas in the world. In 2014, Liu combined movie making and advocacy to direct her first short film, which explores human trafficking and child sex slavery in Mumbai, India. Liu has also donated the sale proceeds of her abstract paintings to UNICEF.

Daniel Dae Kim: On the ABC drama Lost, Kim so convincingly played a crash survivor who initially spoke no English that many fans were surprised to learn that Kim had lived in the United States since he was a young boy and is an alumnus of venerable East Coast colleges Haverford College and New York University. Kim recently finished his fourth season on CBS’ Hawaii Five-O and has been cast in Insurgent, the sequel to this year’s popular dystopian thriller Divergent. In 2013, Kim also signed a two-year development deal with CBS and now hopes to produce a film about North Korean defectors and a remake of the South Korean hospital drama Good Doctor. Although Kim left his native Pusan at age 8, he still has an aunt living in his hometown, and he is married to a Seoul native.

Grace Park: Los Angeles born and Canadian raised, Park graduated from the same Vancouver high school as Matrix star Carrie-Anne Moss. Park began modeling at age 18, and after several years, she headed to Hong Kong to work in commercials, music videos, and movies. From 2000 to 2004, she appeared in the Canadian teen drama Edgemont. Then Park’s career rocketed into space with a starring role as Boomer in the 2003 hit remake of Battlestar Galactica. After living on the West Coast in the U.S., Park had to bolster her ties to her Korean ancestry for her first feature film, 2008′s crime drama West 32nd (named for the street that centers New York City’s Koreatown). Park told the Vancouver Sun that she doesn’t “even hang out with Korean Americans … I had to really learn my Korean. Because my accent was really bad, apparently. I thought it was fine.”

Harry Shum Jr.: To a generation of Glee fans, Harry Shum Jr. will always be Mike Chang, the McKinley High football player who turned into the glee club’s best dancer and choreographer, even if his voice wasn’t quite up to Kurt and Finn’s standards. Shum was born in Puerto Limon, Costa Rica, into the Latin American country’s Cantonese-speaking Chinese community, but his family moved to San Francisco when he was 6. A dancer from an early age, he was the only male dancer on BET’s Comic View when he was 20 and went on to land lead-dancing gigs on tours for such superstars as Beyonce, Jennifer Lopez, and Mariah Carey. In addition to his five-season gig on Glee, Shum appeared in Step Up 2, Step Up 3D, Stomp the Yard, the web series Mortal Kombat: Legacy, and the upcoming crime thriller Revenge of the Green Dragons. Shum has joked about being a polyglot, especially since people don’t expect him to understand Spanish: “I’ll use [Spanish] more if someone’s talking crap about me, then I can retaliate because they don’t know I speak it,” he told Zap2It.

Maggie Q: Half Vietnamese, half European mix (Polish, Irish, French), Maggie Q (Quigley to her parents) was born and raised in Hawaii but moved to Asia to launch her modeling career after graduating from high school. The fashion-model-turned-actress is best known to English-speaking audiences for the CW’s primetime take on Nikita, the fourth Die Hard sequel (Live Free or Die Hard), and Mission Impossible 3, but she actually started acting a decade earlier in 1998, when Jackie Chan spotted her and managed her early career in Hong Kong cinema. She even learned Cantonese for her roles. Despite her many performances as a sexy woman who can kill, Maggie hopes she’s more than a stereotype: “Not only do I not want to be stereotyped as this Asian girl who fights — gee, what a wonder — but also I have more to offer than that.”

Hailee Steinfeld: The 17-year-old actress might have a Jewish surname, but Hailee Steinfeld is also half Filipino on her mother’s side. The Los Angeles-raised daughter of a personal trainer, Peter Steinfeld, and an interior designer, Cheri Domasin, Steinfeld realizes she’s somewhat of ethnic chameleon, so she loves it when people recognize her heritage: “I found that the best thing when I am in a group of people, I would have one or two people come up to me and say, ‘You are Filipino!’ I am Filipino, too. And I am like ‘Yes, this is awesome!’ So it is sort of this one thing that connected me with many people that I find is really interesting,” she told Yahoo. Steinfeld, who started acting at 8 but broke out with a role that earned her an Academy Award nomination — playing Mattie Ross in the Coen Brothers’ 2010 remake of True Grit. She’s also played Juliet to Douglas Booth’s Romeo in 2013, young warrior Petra in Ender’s Game, and Mark Ruffalo’s daughter in Begin Again. Steinfeld is set to star opposite Anna Kendrick and Rebel Wilson in next year’s much-anticipated Pitch Perfect 2.

BD Wong: One of Hollywood’s most recognizable Asian character actors, Wong is a third-generation Chinese American hailing from San Francisco. The stage-and-screen star first broke out with a Tony-winning performance in M Butterfly in 1988. Wong is best known for his long-running roles on critically acclaimed dramas such as HBO’s Oz and NBC’s Law & Order: SVU, on which he played forensic psychiatrist Dr. George Huang for nine seasons. The openly gay actor came out via a memoir in 2003 about his and his former partner’s experiences having premature twins (one of whom died shortly after birth) via a surrogate, Following Foo: The Electronic Adventures of the Chestnut Man. In 2003, he explained his reluctance to come out: “Up until now, acting was really my entire world, and I really felt strongly that I was supposed to be an actor, but I entered a field that was particularly non-welcoming to me as an Asian-American. The opportunities already were somewhat limited to me, so it felt almost like a kind of career suicide to be completely out as a gay man.”

Keanu Reeves: Reeves, who played a half-Japanese samurai in 2013′s 47 Ronin is partially Asian by way of multicultural Hawaii. His father hails from a sprawling, multiracial Oahu clan that looks to Ireland, England, Portugal, Korea, China, the Philippines, and Japan for its ancestry. Reeves also connected with his heritage with his 2013 directorial debut, Man of Tai Chi, about a martial arts expert whose skills land him in an underworld fight club. “My grandmother is Chinese and Hawaiian, so I was around Chinese art, furniture and cuisine when I was growing up,” Reeves told a Filipino newspaper. “I remember that I really liked haikus. I also liked animé and kung fu movies — so, yeah, I was exposed to Asian culture since I was a kid.”

—Sandie Angulo Chen
Discover the stars of your family story. Start free trial.

The post 8 Celebrities With Asian Ancestry appeared first on Ancestry.com Blog.

]]>
http://blogs.ancestry.com/cm/2014/07/21/8-celebrities-with-asian-ancestry/feed/ 0
12 Bizarre Dining Customs That Are Now Extincthttp://blogs.ancestry.com/cm/2014/07/20/12-bizarre-dining-customs-that-are-now-extinct/ http://blogs.ancestry.com/cm/2014/07/20/12-bizarre-dining-customs-that-are-now-extinct/#comments Sun, 20 Jul 2014 03:26:01 +0000 Ancestry.com http://blogs.ancestry.com/cm/?p=5224 [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

The post 12 Bizarre Dining Customs That Are Now Extinct appeared first on Ancestry.com Blog.

]]>

[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.

  • 14-Day Free Trial
    GIVE ME ACCESS

1. Vegetarians that were, well, not. In Medieval Britain, chickens, pigeons and fish were considered “vegetarian.” At the time, Britons considered only quadrupeds to be “flesh-meat,” leaving other various animals available to members of religious orders, who were to refrain from rich diets. These so-called “vegetarian” meats were also available during Lent or other observances.

2. Water was not a table drink. Until relatively recently (think early 19th century), many municipal water supplies in the United States and most other Western countries were tainted. Many streets and rivers were little more than open sewers until the advent of underground plumbing, so water drawn from the nearest local water source was likely adulterated. The table drink of choice? Beer. The brewing process required boiling, so it was much more sanitary.

3. Salt was only for the rich. Salt was hard to come by and therefore expensive and highly prized. The most important item on a European dining table until about the 18th century was the “great salt,” a large, ornate salt cellar that would act as the communal salt shaker for all at the table. These impressive objects now reside in museum collections around the world.

4. Savory ice cream. While chefs will always experiment with mixing sweet and savory, the Victorians took it to a new level. Ice cream was wildly popular in the late 19th century, and cookbook authors and newspaper columnists alike came up with all sorts of interesting recipes for it. While a “cucumber ice” actually sounds refreshing, a “salmon ice” does not. Lox in your ice cream? Yuck!

5. Employing an official food taster. While this practice continues in some instances today — most notably at the 2008 Beijing Olympics when officials used white mice to test athletes’ food — having a dedicated employee or servant to taste the food of an important ruler was common practice in ancient times. Though food tasters were popular, it’s not certain whether they were actually effective, as most poisons are slow acting. The most notorious food taster was Halotus, who acted on behalf of Roman emperor Claudius. The emperor died of poisoning in AD 54, and his trusty food taster was implicated in the murder. So much for peace of mind!

6. Finger foods. Few of us can think of King Henry VIII without picturing him tearing into a chicken with his bare hands (thanks, Charles Laughton) — and with good reason. Forks are a relatively recent invention and weren’t used at the table until well after the reign of Henry’s daughter Elizabeth I. Until then, knives and spoons were used, and many men used the knives they had sheathed at their waists.

7. Backwash, anyone? Going along with the lack of forks, up until the English Restoration in 1660, only wealthy Brits could afford individual glasses for their guests. Everyone else had to share, and a servant would pass them the cup from a shelf in the dining room known as the “cup board.”

8. Ring the bell for … nunchion? You probably didn’t realize that “luncheon” is a fairly young term, only catching on in the early 19th century. Until then, a midday snack was known as “nunchion,” sometimes spelled “nuncheon.” The term was coined in Britain, where a dictionary from 1755 defines it as a snack which would have consisted of a glass of cider or wine with some cake or a cookie, or a cup of newly fashionable coffee or hot chocolate. The odd term appears in Jane Austen’s first novel, Sense and Sensibility, published in 1811.

9. Peeing at the table. In Georgian times, dinner was practically an all-day affair and could last up to five hours. Without the advantage of indoor plumbing, some upper-class hosts took it upon themselves to provide a variety of chamber pots on the sideboard of their dining room. François de la Rochefoucauld, the French social reformer who was exiled to England after the French Revolution, was bewildered by this “most indecent” practice. He wrote extensively of his culture shock in his 1784 memoir, A Frenchman in England.

10. No family dinners. Most children in upper-class and upper-middle-class families in 1800s America and Britain were fed separately from their parents. Nannies would be charged with most of the childcare duties, including mealtimes, and most children would be in bed by 8:00, the usual time their parents would begin a multicourse dinner. Most young’uns didn’t eat with their parents until they were old enough to learn table manners.

11. “Secret’s in the sauce.” You’d probably be upset if you found out your canned beans or pickles had sawdust or metal shavings in them. Unfortunately, adulterating food for mass consumption was common practice in the late 19th century, as exposed by Upton Sinclair in The Jungle. In the United States, the Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906 was one of the first official measures to combat this practice. It’s also the reason H.J. Heinz sold his ketchup in glass bottles — the consumer could see for herself that there were no foreign objects inside.

12. Less-than-appetizing garnish. Native Americans may have been the experts at using all of an animal, but the Victorians turned it into an art. It was popular to serve exotic game with its head, wings or tail feathers as decoration. Anyone for a slice of stuffed peacock?
—Melanie Linn Gutowski

Unless otherwise noted, facts come from Sara Paston-Williams’ The Art of Dining.

Look into your ancestors’ eating habits. Start free trial.

The post 12 Bizarre Dining Customs That Are Now Extinct appeared first on Ancestry.com Blog.

]]>
http://blogs.ancestry.com/cm/2014/07/20/12-bizarre-dining-customs-that-are-now-extinct/feed/ 0
Hot Summer Nights: The 1890 Ice Faminehttp://blogs.ancestry.com/cm/2014/07/20/hot-summer-nights-the-1890-ice-famine/ http://blogs.ancestry.com/cm/2014/07/20/hot-summer-nights-the-1890-ice-famine/#comments Sun, 20 Jul 2014 03:00:52 +0000 Ancestry.com http://blogs.ancestry.com/cm/?p=5221 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

The post Hot Summer Nights: The 1890 Ice Famine appeared first on Ancestry.com Blog.

]]>
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 great in cold years, but it was fraught with hazards — warm winters being a major one.

  • 14-Day Free Trial
    GIVE ME ACCESS

Ice was a major industry in the 19th century. In North America it began in 1806, when a daring entrepreneur named Frederic Tudor started shipping ice from Boston, insulating it with sawdust, to places as far south as Brazil. The idea seemed as absurd then as it does now. Yes, plenty of it melted. But the general idea worked and Tudor was soon dubbed “the Ice King.” Other businesses followed, mostly harvesting ice from New England and shipping it to places like New York City, Charleston, Savannah, and the Caribbean. Tudor even sent his ice to India.

Harvesting ice in New Hampshire. (Courtesy of Keene Public Library, via Flickr)

Henry David Thoreau observed the ice-cutting ritual in the winter of 1846-47 on Walden Pond, in Massachusetts. The workers came from Tudor’s company, which leased the rights to harvest the ice there:

“a hundred Irishmen…came from Cambridge every day to get out the ice. They divided it into cakes…and these, being sledded to the shore, were rapidly hauled off on to an ice platform, and raised by grappling irons and block and tackle, worked by horses, on to a stack, as surely as so many barrels of flour, and there placed evenly side by side, and row upon row, as if they formed the solid base of an obelisk designed to pierce the clouds. They told me that in a good day they could get out a thousand tons, which was the yield of about one acre.”

Loading ice onto a train, circa 1910. (Courtesy of The Library of Congress, via Flickr)

The winter of 1889-90 was one of the warmest on record — with the highest temperatures ever in some areas — and it led to a shortage, called an “ice famine.” By this time, Americans had grown accustomed to having ice around, using it for everything from quelling high fevers to dropping in mint juleps to preserving meat. They bought ice from a cart and stored it in a cool place at home. New York City, for instance, used about 3 million tons of ice a year in 1890.

Even in a normal year, ice companies might exaggerate shortages to gouge prices, but in June 1890, a smug Savannah newspaper noted that ice prices in Georgia were much lower than in the north, despite 90-degree days. While ice was going for $10 a ton in New York and $20 a ton in Cincinnati, in Savannah it ranged from $5 to $7.50. This was because Northern cities relied on natural ice, while the South was perfecting man-made ice. “The process of ice manufacture is both simple and comparatively inexpensive,” the Savannah News reported. The major cost was in the creation of the plant, not the manufacturing process itself.

A Southerner had come up with the idea. In the 1842, a Florida physician named John Gorrie built an air-cooling machine that compressed and cooled a gas to treat yellow fever patients. He patented the device in 1851 and eventually left his practice to work on the ice machine. Other inventors tinkered with the process, and refrigerators went into commercial use in the latter part of the 19th century. Beginning in 1877, cattle dealer Gustavus Swift pioneered the use of refrigerated railway cars so he could ship meat from Chicago across the country.

An ice machine circa 1910. (Courtesy of the Library of Congress, via Flickr)

These inventions meant that Americans need not be at the mercy of natural ice. After the shortage in the winter of 1890, companies stepped up their efforts to bring ice machines and refrigerators to the consumer. But the domestic refrigerator wasn’t even invented until 1913, so people still had to buy ice themselves to take home and store. During a heat wave, hospitals gave it out for free, which could lead to an ice riot.

In a summer like this, we’d fight for ice, too.

—Rebecca Dalzell

How cool were your ancestors? Find out with a free trial.

The post Hot Summer Nights: The 1890 Ice Famine appeared first on Ancestry.com Blog.

]]>
http://blogs.ancestry.com/cm/2014/07/20/hot-summer-nights-the-1890-ice-famine/feed/ 0
Phoenix NBC News Anchor Kim Covington Uncovers Her Slave Roots—and a Surprising Celebrity Connectionhttp://blogs.ancestry.com/cm/2014/07/11/nbc-news-anchor-kim-covington-uncovers-her-slave-roots-and-a-surprising-celebrity-connection/ http://blogs.ancestry.com/cm/2014/07/11/nbc-news-anchor-kim-covington-uncovers-her-slave-roots-and-a-surprising-celebrity-connection/#comments Fri, 11 Jul 2014 17:29:30 +0000 Ancestry.com http://blogs.ancestry.com/cm/?p=5135 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

The post Phoenix NBC News Anchor Kim Covington Uncovers Her Slave Roots—and a Surprising Celebrity Connection appeared first on Ancestry.com Blog.

]]>
kim coinvgtonPhoenix 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, “changed who I am.”

  • 14-Day Free Trial
    GIVE ME ACCESS

Kim’s grandfather Roosevelt died when Kim’s father was only 11 years old, and the Covington family tree as they knew it stopped there. Kim’s father didn’t know his grandparents’ names, much less where they came from. A fact, Kim tearfully admits, has been truly painful.

Using a US census from 1870—the first census to list former slaves by names—family historians from Ancestry.com were able to discover more about Kim’s great-grandparents, starting with their names: Ephraim and Hannah Covington. Both were most likely born into slavery and remained slaves for 20 years. Kim’s grandfather Roosevelt was one of their first children born free (though he certainly wasn’t their only child—Hannah bore fourteen children in her lifetime!).

As for the Covington name, Kim’s great-grandfather Ephraim was presumably assigned the name by his owner, W.N. Covington. Upon learning this surprising news, Kim’s father muses that what matters more than a name is who you are as a person.

Genealogists also discovered that Ephraim had been sold in Maryland and shipped to Missouri, far away from his family. His parents bore the last name Robinson, but historians weren’t able to turn up much more—yet. Now Kim’s looking forward to her AncestryDNA test providing more answers about her African roots.

Discovering her family’s painful history, Kim says, has been empowering. It underscores how far her family has come in just a few generations—from illiterate slaves and sharecroppers to the educated women and men she and her siblings are today: a news anchor, a community college executive, a physical therapist, and a dentist.

Amidst these emotional revelations, Kim was also in for a fun family surprise: Hannah and Ephraim worked on the same farm as Elmer Winfrey, a direct ancestor of Oprah Winfrey. Now Kim amuses herself by thinking of them as good buddies picking cotton together.

You can watch the story unfold for Kim and her family here: Part 1, Part 2.

—Connie Ray
Uncover the newsmakers in your own family. Start free trial.

The post Phoenix NBC News Anchor Kim Covington Uncovers Her Slave Roots—and a Surprising Celebrity Connection appeared first on Ancestry.com Blog.

]]>
http://blogs.ancestry.com/cm/2014/07/11/nbc-news-anchor-kim-covington-uncovers-her-slave-roots-and-a-surprising-celebrity-connection/feed/ 0
What Was It Like to Live in 18th-Century England?http://blogs.ancestry.com/cm/2014/07/10/what-was-it-like-to-live-in-18th-century-england/ http://blogs.ancestry.com/cm/2014/07/10/what-was-it-like-to-live-in-18th-century-england/#comments Thu, 10 Jul 2014 21:09:39 +0000 Ancestry.com http://blogs.ancestry.com/cm/?p=5170 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

The post What Was It Like to Live in 18th-Century England? appeared first on Ancestry.com Blog.

]]>

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?

  • 14-Day Free Trial
    GIVE ME ACCESS

  • 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 the century, came new machinery that saved time and made some people very wealthy. The rich were getting richer and the poor, poorer.
  • Many people were out of work because suddenly machines were doing their jobs.
  • The population was growing wildly. Cities were dirty, noisy, and overcrowded. London had about 600,000 people around 1700 and almost a million residents in 1800.
  • The rich, only a tiny minority of the population, lived luxuriously in lavish, elegant mansions and country houses, which they furnished with comfortable, upholstered furniture.
  • Their calendars included dinner parties, opera, and the theater. Many had inherited their great fortunes and never knew what it was to have to work, cook meals, or empty their own chamber pots.
  • Fashion was important in upper society: Upper-class women wore stays, which were bodices with strips of whalebone, and hooped petticoats under their dresses.
  • Men wore knee-length “breeches” with stockings, waistcoats, and frock coats over linen shirts, as well as buckled shoes. Three-cornered hats were popular, too—and wigs.
  • Schools were not compulsory, but many upper-class boys attended school, and some girls from well-off families did, too. Girls were educated more in “accomplishments” like embroidery and music than in academic subjects.
  • Some “charity schools” started to provide an education to lower-class children.
  • Tea drinking became popular in the 1700s among both the rich and the poor.
  • Poor people ate rather plain and monotonous diets made up primarily of bread and potatoes; meat was an uncommon luxury.
  • Poor craftsmen and laborers lived in just two or three rooms, and the poorest families lived in just one room with very simple and plain furniture.
  • It was a difficult life for poor people: There was no government assistance for the unemployed, and many had trouble finding their next meal or a warm place to sleep.
  • For every 1,000 children born in early-18th-century London, almost 500 died before they were 2, generally due to malnutrition, bad water, dirty food, and poor hygiene.
  • Orphans roamed the streets; because they didn’t attend school, they had little chance of improving their situation.

Discover your family story. Start free trial.

—Leslie Lang

The post What Was It Like to Live in 18th-Century England? appeared first on Ancestry.com Blog.

]]>
http://blogs.ancestry.com/cm/2014/07/10/what-was-it-like-to-live-in-18th-century-england/feed/ 0
1934: A Bad Year for America’s Most Wantedhttp://blogs.ancestry.com/cm/2014/07/10/1934-a-bad-year-for-americas-most-wanted/ http://blogs.ancestry.com/cm/2014/07/10/1934-a-bad-year-for-americas-most-wanted/#comments Thu, 10 Jul 2014 17:41:45 +0000 Ancestry.com http://blogs.ancestry.com/cm/?p=5161 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

The post 1934: A Bad Year for America’s Most Wanted appeared first on Ancestry.com Blog.

]]>

[Source: FBI]

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.

  • 14-Day Free Trial
    GIVE ME ACCESS

It was a busy year for bad guys, and ultimately a bad one for them, too, as many of them died or were killed in 1934.

John Dillinger was the most notorious of the Depression-era outlaws. As a young adult, he and a friend had robbed a grocery store of $50, and he was sentenced to 10-20 years in prison (ultimately serving 9 1/2 years). This embittered him, and it’s said that when he was first imprisoned, he stated, “I will be the meanest bastard you ever saw when I get out of here.” He befriended other lawbreakers in jail and studied how to be a successful criminal. After he left jail in 1933, he robbed at least 12 banks.

On March 3, 1934, Dillinger used a wooden pistol to escape from jail in Indiana. The following month, papers reported, he and two others shot their way out of an FBI ambush in Wisconsin.

Dillinger shared the headlines with Charles Arthur “Pretty Boy” Floyd and George “Baby Face” Nelson—each took a turn topping the country’s Public Enemy No. 1 list—and the notorious duo of Bonnie and Clyde. Between bank heists and other robberies, ambushes by police and shootouts, people at home followed their exploits in the newspaper.

[Photo credit: FBI]

Then, on May 23, 1934, Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow were ambushed and killed by six police officers. It marked the beginning of the end of the “Public Enemy Era” of the 1930s. Soon after the Parker and Barrow ambush, bank robberies and kidnapping became federal offenses, and new two-way radios in police cars made bandit sprees much harder to get away with successfully.

On July 22, 1934, Dillinger was ambushed and killed by FBI agents outside a theater in Chicago. His family had his coffin encased in concrete to prevent grave robbing. On October 22, Floyd met his end in a shootout with FBI agents in an Ohio cornfield. This left Nelson, born Lester Joseph Gillis, who (along with two FBI special agents) was killed in an Illinois gun battle on November 27. The Public Enemy Era wasn’t over yet, but the enemies were falling fast.

You can search for your own notorious ancestors in Ancestry.com’s historical newspaper collection.

—Leslie Lang

The post 1934: A Bad Year for America’s Most Wanted appeared first on Ancestry.com Blog.

]]>
http://blogs.ancestry.com/cm/2014/07/10/1934-a-bad-year-for-americas-most-wanted/feed/ 0
9 Things You Don’t Know About Your Clotheshttp://blogs.ancestry.com/cm/2014/07/09/9-things-you-dont-know-about-your-clothes/ http://blogs.ancestry.com/cm/2014/07/09/9-things-you-dont-know-about-your-clothes/#comments Wed, 09 Jul 2014 23:30:21 +0000 Ancestry.com http://blogs.ancestry.com/cm/?p=5134 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

The post 9 Things You Don’t Know About Your Clothes appeared first on Ancestry.com Blog.

]]>

[Photo credit: Shutterstock]

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.

  • 14-Day Free Trial
    GIVE ME ACCESS

If our genetics and family records found on Ancestry.com can give clues to who we are now, so, too, can the clothes our forebears wore. Here are nine surprising facts about the history of the clothes many of us wear now.

1. Men wore high heels first.

Well before women strapped on five-inch stilettos, aristocratic European men were setting the trend. Starting in the 16th century, wealthy, heel-wearing men were sending a message to the world: The wearers of heels did not have jobs.

Aristocratic ladies began wearing heels when they started masculinizing their wardrobes. Eventually, lower-class women started appropriating the fashion for themselves. In the early 18th century, men stopped wearing the shoes, as heels became more and more associated with women.

2. The Empire waist is connected to Napoleon Bonaparte.

The Empire waist — a silhouette where the bodice ends just below the bust — actually became popular thanks to Napoleon Bonaparte’s wife Josephine. A rebellion against the restrictive wear that women wore for centuries, the Empire waist gave women ability to move more freely. French women of the early 19th century embraced the style of the empress Josephine, and many ladies across Europe followed.

3. The wallets used today were made to carry paper money.

While the word “wallet” has been around since the 14th century to describe a knapsack to carry money, the modern meaning of wallet is a recent development. The flat-case wallet as we know it became part of everyday American life when paper money was introduced in the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1690.

4. The tradition of diamond engagement rings can be traced back to the 15th century.

The idea of wedding rings started when the caveman put cords of braided grass around his mate’s wrists, ankles, and waist, placing her under his control. The engagement ring, however, has a bit shorter history. One of the first documented diamond engagement rings was given by Archduke Maximilian of Austria to Mary of Burgundy upon their engagement in 1477. Before 1867, when diamonds were discovered in South Africa, most of our ancestors were not lucky enough to get engaged with diamond rings.

5. Neckties started with King Louis XIV.

Our forebears wore scarves to keep warm, neckerchiefs to wipe sweat, and sometimes a cloth around the neck to hide missing buttons or stains. However, it was during the 17th century that King Louis XIV brought the early version of the tie into fashion. After he saw how visiting Croatian soldiers decorated their uniforms, he felt inspired. After that, the French regiment wore them as an official emblem. The look was then embraced by the French upper class and spread across the European continent.

6. Stripes were once considered the devil’s clothing.

Often considered the devil’s calling sign, stripes were worn only by people on the outskirts of society. This belief began in the 12th and 13th centuries. For an unknown reason, the tide eventually changed and stripes were embraced by society during the French and American Revolutions and continue to this day to be a popular pattern.

7. Buttons were considered jewelry, not a functional element of clothes.

Our early ancestors did not use buttons to keep their clothes together. Instead, they were used as ornaments to add style to their outfits. The oldest known button is around 5,000 years old and was found in the Indus Valley, in modern-day Pakistan. Around the middle of the 11th century, the button was starting to be used to make more form-fitting clothing. It wasn’t until after the Industrial Revolution that buttons became an everyday item.

8. “Sneakers” got their name from an early 1900s ad man.

During the late 1800s, members of our family tree were likely rocking shoes called plimsolls. These were the original version of sneakers first developed and manufactured in the United States. U.S. Rubber’s footwear divisions manufactured their rubber-soled shoes under 30 different brand names from 1892 to 1913. Eventually the company consolidated all the brands under one name. Originally, they wanted to call the shoes Peds, the Latin for foot. The name was already trademarked, so eventually the company settled on Keds. Henry Nelson McKinney, of the ad agency N. W. Ayer & Son, coined the term sneakers for Keds because the rubber soul made very little noise when people walked in them (so they could “sneak” around, get it?).

9. Wedding dresses weren’t always white.

Unless your ancestors were royalty before 1840, it’s unlikely that any of the women in your family tree were married in white. It was Queen Victoria, who wore a white gown at her wedding to Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg, who made the trend popular for the masses. Before that, wedding dresses were almost any other color. It’s worth noting that royalty had worn white for many years before Queen Victoria to symbolize the bride’s purity.

Join Ancestry.com and connect yourself to ancestors so far back that they didn’t wear white wedding dresses, never put on a pair of sneakers, and considered buttons jewelry.

Discover your family story. Start free trial.

The post 9 Things You Don’t Know About Your Clothes appeared first on Ancestry.com Blog.

]]>
http://blogs.ancestry.com/cm/2014/07/09/9-things-you-dont-know-about-your-clothes/feed/ 0
9 Reasons Your Great-Great-Grandparents Were More Awesome Than Youhttp://blogs.ancestry.com/cm/2014/07/09/9-reasons-your-great-great-grandparents-were-more-awesome-than-you/ http://blogs.ancestry.com/cm/2014/07/09/9-reasons-your-great-great-grandparents-were-more-awesome-than-you/#comments Wed, 09 Jul 2014 20:38:22 +0000 Ancestry.com http://blogs.ancestry.com/cm/?p=5101 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

The post 9 Reasons Your Great-Great-Grandparents Were More Awesome Than You appeared first on Ancestry.com Blog.

]]>

[Photo credit: Tekniska museet on Flickr]

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.

  • 14-Day Free Trial
    GIVE ME ACCESS

Here are 9 reasons why Great-great-grandma and Grandpa were more awesome than we are:

1. They could probably ride and care for a horse.

Automobiles were still experimental technology and owned only by the very rich, so most transportation was done with horses or on foot (of course, there was also the railroad for longer trips). Great-great-grandpa may have had to walk to his one-room schoolhouse “uphill both ways,” but he likely learned as a boy how to saddle a horse or hitch one to a carriage.

2. They wrote and received letters regularly.

A hundred years from now, historians probably won’t have nearly as much fun going through our old emails, and that’s if someone has maintained the technology used to send them. Written correspondence — and the occasional telegram — was the only way most people could keep in touch with one another, and mail was delivered six times a day in some cities.

3. They could get by without electricity.

Turn off the power for 24 hours today and you’d get mass panic. We rely on electricity for everything from telephone communication to door locks to transportation. Most folks in the 1870s and ’80s relied on candles, oil lamps, or built-in gas lighting for illumination, and they could cook, clean, and get around without all those volts. Once it was dark out, there was no reading under the covers — beddy bye!

[Photo credit: ErgSap on Flickr]

4. They could make their own household goods.

Great-great-grandma probably sewed all her own household linens, complete with fancy embroidery, tatting, or other decorative embellishments. She could probably knit, crochet, or hook rugs. While some of these skills are becoming popular again, the ready availability of manufactured textiles has made most of them hobbies rather than essential life skills.

5. They knew how to behave in different social situations.

You’d never catch Great-great-grandma patting a pregnant woman’s belly. Etiquette in the late 1800s was more codified and focused on not making others uncomfortable. Much of that has gone by the wayside today — much to the chagrin of anyone who’s ever been stuck on a bus with a loud cellphone talker or had someone bring an uninvited guest to a wedding.

6. They could get a good job without a lot of education.

The movement for compulsory secondary education didn’t begin in the U.S. until the 1890s, so many adults in the 1870s and ’80s had only an elementary education. Still, they were able to find good-paying jobs in manufacturing — steel, meatpacking, and other major industries. Of course, these jobs didn’t pay nearly as much as most skilled labor jobs, which required years of apprenticeship prior to employment. A college education was mostly for the elite. Student loan debt was unheard of.

7. They could get cheap household help.

The influx of immigrants coupled with the economic boom meant even the middle class could afford household help. And good thing, too — it’s likely your great-great-grandparents had about five children to care for. You can see for yourself whether Great-great-grandma had a live-in maid using Ancestry.com: Maids residing at their place of work were listed alongside their employers in the census records.

[Photo credit: Library of Congress]

8. They got to witness the earliest years of some of the most fascinating things in modern life.

Skyscrapers. Impressionism. The light bulb. The telephone. Depending on where they lived and how well read they were, your great-great-grandparents may have had a front-row seat for some of the new wonders of the modern world. After all, the country was just a few years away from hosting the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago, where all of America’s ingenuity and technology would go on display.

9. They didn’t have to explain their facial hair to anyone.

These days, young men sporting full beards are branded as hipsters. But in Great-great-grandpa’s day, facial hair for men of a certain age was the rule rather than the exception. The impressive facial hair of Presidents Chester A. Arthur, Grover Cleveland and Rutherford B. Hayes show that a full beard, mustache or even mutton chops could be the hallmarks of the distinguished gentleman.

—Melanie Linn Gutowski

Ready to meet your great-grandparents? Start free trial.

The post 9 Reasons Your Great-Great-Grandparents Were More Awesome Than You appeared first on Ancestry.com Blog.

]]>
http://blogs.ancestry.com/cm/2014/07/09/9-reasons-your-great-great-grandparents-were-more-awesome-than-you/feed/ 0
8 Jobs You Were Born Too Late to Gethttp://blogs.ancestry.com/cm/2014/07/09/8-jobs-you-were-born-too-late-to-get/ http://blogs.ancestry.com/cm/2014/07/09/8-jobs-you-were-born-too-late-to-get/#comments Wed, 09 Jul 2014 18:01:52 +0000 Ancestry.com http://blogs.ancestry.com/cm/?p=5093 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

The post 8 Jobs You Were Born Too Late to Get appeared first on Ancestry.com Blog.

]]>

[Photo credit: Seattle Municipal Archives on Flickr]

Some jobs just aren’t meant to last. Technology trims a trade. Fashion fickleness frustrates growth. Reduced resources wreak havoc on an industry.

  • 14-Day Free Trial
    GIVE ME ACCESS

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 switchboard operator. And as a result, we regard with wonder and puzzlement the lost jobs of our forebears.

1. Lector

The lector (or “reader”) was a time-honored occupation that began in Cuba’s cigar-making factories and then made its way to the United States throughout the 19th and early 20th centuries, particularly in Florida and New York. Workers pooled their wages to pay the lector to read to them. On a given day, the lector might read anything: Spanish-language newspapers, short stories, poems, novels, even English-language papers if his translation skills were sharp. Because lectors tended to be left-leaning and pro-labor, some were blamed by factory owners for their workers’ unionist views. By the 1920s, many owners got rid of the lectors and replaced them with radios, but for decades, the lector was one of the most prestigious jobs among Latino factory workers.

2. Iceman

There are, of course, still delivery workers who bring bags of ice to restaurants, grocery stores, and catering halls. But no one delivers lake ice, 25- to 100-pound blocks of frozen water hacked from icebound lakes and rivers in New England and other northern climes, stored under sawdust in ice houses to stay cool, and delivered by the iceman in his horse-drawn cart to kitchens across America. That job finally melted away with the mass production of home refrigerators in the 1940s. Even then, the dripping, apron-draped iceman had been living on borrowed time. After 1900, industrial refrigeration permitted the production of factory-produced ice. For the next 40 or so years, though, until home refrigerators became ubiquitous, families continued to display window signs telling icemen how many pounds of ice they needed delivered.

Being an "ice man" was a family business for the Aubers according to the 1880 census. (Image courtesy of Ancestry.com)

Being an “ice man” was a family business for the Aubers according to the 1880 census. (Image courtesy of Ancestry.com)

3. Telephone switchboard operator

Long before dial tones and Siri, a person who wanted to make a call had to start the conversation with “Operator can you connect me…” and the person on the other end of the line was a switchboard operator. For decades the iconic image of the operator was of a row of poufy-haired 1930s women physically putting calls through to exchanges like “Murray Hill 5-9975″ (that was one of the Ricardos’ phone numbers on I Love Lucy). Later, people only needed an operator to make a collect call, but these days, while call centers exist, you’re more likely to get an automated operator asking you to dial or say a number than an actual live person. For a real-life operator, you usually have to be experiencing an emergency.

4. Log driver

In the days before industrial trucking, log drivers transported cut trees from forests downriver to mills. Beginning with each year’s spring thaw, these “river pigs” freed logs from sandbars, river rapids, and logjams. The men spent all day on water that was often near freezing, so to ease the cold and their own cracked skin, they greased their legs and waists with lard. The work was also dangerous. Bobbing logs made for unsteady work spaces, and a driver who fell through trunks faced a crushed limb or worse — if the trunks closed over him, he’d drown and his body might never resurface. For these risks, however, log drivers earned twice the pay of upriver lumberjacks ($2 versus $1 a day). The use of trucks in the 20th century allowed loggers to harvest trees without having to drive them downriver. That innovation, along with environmental laws, brought an end to this dangerous but lucrative business.

5. Theater organ player

Today, the latest action blockbuster requires a trip to the IMAX 3-D theater for the full cheek-rattling, sonic experience. But for the first 30 years of the 20th century, the state-of-the-art theater sound was the theater organ. Organists accompanied silent movies played in grand theatrical palaces on equally grand pipe organs. Some keyboards could even play sound effects such as car horns, bird whistles, and ocean surf. By 1930, several thousand theaters had installed organs. But in 1927, the first talking picture, The Jazz Singer, premiered. As the Great Depression rolled around, theatergoers no longer wanted to hear, and theater owners no longer wanted to pay, theater organ players. As a result, many organists went on to accompany radio and early television shows on newly invented electric organs.

6. Whalebone worker

At its peak, the 19th-century whaling industry in the United States had more than 700 ships and tens of thousands of men aboard them. Fleets hunted the cetaceans for their oil, meat, and bones. Back home, whalebone workers, mostly women and girls, selected, polished, and shaped whalebone for corsets and umbrellas. But as women’s fashion shifted, as it always does, corsets became unpopular, and the demand for whalebone decreased. Eventually, steel replaced whalebone in corsets, just as petroleum eventually replaced whale oil in candles, lighting, and food.

7. Bone black maker

Beginning in the 1840s, settlers on the Great Plains began selling buffalo bones to bone black factories back east to process into gelatine, fertilizer, pigments, and charcoal used in sugar refineries. By 1885, one Michigan facility alone processed 13 percent of all buffalo bones and became the single biggest factory in Detroit, with 750 employees. And by 1896, just 11 years later, nearly every buffalo was gone, the species hunted to near extinction. That cataclysmic collapse in resources, combined with the discovery of more versatile oil-based pigments in the early part of the 20th century, shrank the bone black manufacturing industry to a single plant, today run by three people, that makes bone black for use in specialty pigments.

8. Feather dresser

For 40 years, from the 1880s to World War I, ostrich feathers graced the heads of every fashionable woman on both sides of the Atlantic. Ostrich feathers became so popular that at one point, their value per pound was almost equal to that of diamonds. In 1912, the Titanic went down carrying £20,000 in plumes. Supporting this feathery fad was a small army of young, female feather dressers who prepared feathers from ostriches and other birds for use in hats, quills, pens, mattresses, and other goods. In New York, the American center of ostrich feather manufacturing, most feather workshops were staffed by Russian Jewish women. Many of the workers in these unregulated factories suffered from tuberculosis. By World War I, the feather dresser trade blew away, undone by the the vicissitudes of fashion, oversupply, bird conservation efforts, and growing demand for innerspring mattresses that replaced feather beds.

—Sandie Angulo Chen

How did your ancestors bring home the bacon? Start free trial.

The post 8 Jobs You Were Born Too Late to Get appeared first on Ancestry.com Blog.

]]>
http://blogs.ancestry.com/cm/2014/07/09/8-jobs-you-were-born-too-late-to-get/feed/ 0