Ancestry Blog http://blogs.ancestry.com/cm Fri, 23 Jan 2015 04:52:44 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.5.2 6 Facts That Prove Canada Dominated in World War Ihttp://blogs.ancestry.com/cm/2015/01/21/6-facts-that-prove-canada-dominated-in-world-war-i/ http://blogs.ancestry.com/cm/2015/01/21/6-facts-that-prove-canada-dominated-in-world-war-i/#comments Wed, 21 Jan 2015 05:39:33 +0000 Paul Rawlins http://blogs.ancestry.com/cm/?p=6599 With superpowers like Britain, Germany, and France as the star players in the First World War, the role of Canada—then still a part of the British Commonwealth—is often overlooked. However, Canadians were critical players in the Allied victory in the Great War. Here are 6 facts that prove Canada was one of the great, underrated… Read more

The post 6 Facts That Prove Canada Dominated in World War I appeared first on Ancestry Blog.

]]>
Canadian WWI poster

[Photo credit: Library of Congress]

With superpowers like Britain, Germany, and France as the star players in the First World War, the role of Canada—then still a part of the British Commonwealth—is often overlooked.

However, Canadians were critical players in the Allied victory in the Great War. Here are 6 facts that prove Canada was one of the great, underrated forces of World War I.

  • 14-Day Free Trial
    GIVE ME ACCESS

● Canadian soldiers fought so fiercely, the Germans called them “storm troops.” They achieved victories where British and French armies had failed. Said British Prime Minister Lloyd George of the Canadians, “Whenever the Germans found the Canadian Corps coming into the line, they prepared for the worst.”

● One-third of all Royal Flying Corps (RFC) pilots were Canadian. In fact, the highest-scoring RFC pilot to survive the war was a Canadian—Lieutenant Colonel William Avery “Billy” Bishop, Jr., who shot down no fewer than 72 enemy planes.

● Canadian soldiers were among the first to endure chemical warfare. At the Battle of Ypres in Belgium, French troops broke ranks and abandoned their trenches when the Germans released clouds of poisonous chlorine gas. They fell back to the Canadian trenches, and the Germans pursued, releasing more gas on the Canadian soldiers. The Canadians held their position, however, making crude gas masks by urinating on their socks and tying them around their faces.

● It was a Canadian soldier at the Battle of Ypres who was inspired to write “In Flanders Fields,” arguably the most famous poem to emerge from World War I. Major John McCrae witnessed the death of his friend, Lt. Alexis Helmer, and was asked to conduct his funeral service in the absence of a chaplain. He later wrote the famous verses which begin, “In Flanders fields, the poppies blow/Between the crosses, row on row.” Search for military records for free on Ancestry.

● Canadian women first got the vote during World War I. The women’s suffrage movement was in full swing in Canada, Britain, and the U.S. during the war. In 1917, the Canadian government granted any woman aged 21 and over who was serving in the military (as a nurse) or directly related to someone in the military the right to vote. In 1919, the vote was extended to all Canadian women aged 21 and over—eight years before British women got the same privilege.

● At the Canadian Vimy Memorial, visitors are forbidden from walking in certain areas because of undetonated explosives from World War I. To avoid further human casualties, groundskeepers allow sheep to graze in those areas to keep the grass mown.

—Connie Ray

The post 6 Facts That Prove Canada Dominated in World War I appeared first on Ancestry Blog.

]]>
http://blogs.ancestry.com/cm/2015/01/21/6-facts-that-prove-canada-dominated-in-world-war-i/feed/ 0
Calling James Smith! 10 Most Common First and Surname Combinationshttp://blogs.ancestry.com/cm/2015/01/20/calling-james-smith-10-most-common-first-and-surname-combinations/ http://blogs.ancestry.com/cm/2015/01/20/calling-james-smith-10-most-common-first-and-surname-combinations/#comments Tue, 20 Jan 2015 16:27:02 +0000 Ancestry Team http://blogs.ancestry.com/cm/?p=6706 If you look up when someone says “James Smith,” you’ve got plenty of company. That’s the most popular first and last name combination in the United States, according to a study conducted last year by a retired university professor. So as you research your family background, you might find some spouses or distant cousins with… Read more

The post Calling James Smith! 10 Most Common First and Surname Combinations appeared first on Ancestry Blog.

]]>
Calling James Smith! 10 Most Common First and Surname Combinations

[Photo credit: Shutterstock]

If you look up when someone says “James Smith,” you’ve got plenty of company.

That’s the most popular first and last name combination in the United States, according to a study conducted last year by a retired university professor. So as you research your family background, you might find some spouses or distant cousins with that very name.

  • 14-Day Free Trial
    GIVE ME ACCESS

Here are the top 10 most common name combinations and the number of individuals with that combo, according to last year’s study:

  1. James Smith: 38,313
  2. Michael Smith: 34,810
  3. Robert Smith: 34,269
  4. Maria Garcia: 32,092
  5. David Smith: 31,294
  6. Maria Rodriguez: 30,507
  7. Mary Smith: 28,692
  8. Maria Hernandez: 27,836
  9. Maria Martinez: 26,956
  10. James Johnson: 26,850

Lee Hartman, an associate professor emeritus of Spanish at Southern Illinois University, arrived at those combinations by pairing the most common given names with the most common surnames, according to census information. Hartman then submitted each combination to Whitepages.com’s name popularity search engine to see how often each combination was actually used.

Not surprisingly, Hartman discovered that the frequency of certain name combinations reflect America’s cultural history, in ways both obvious and subtle. The frequency of Maria Garcia and Maria Rodriguez, for example, reflect the growing presence of Hispanics in the United States.

Garcia, a Spanish surname of Basque origin, and Rodriguez, meaning “son of Rodrigo,” were the eighth- and ninth-most common surnames in the United States.

Similarly, Smith has been the most common last name in the United States since its founding, so it’s not surprising that it appears in seven of the top 13 combinations. But some commentators have noted with surprise how relatively uncommon “John Smith” is. Hartman attributed that both to the desire of parents to avoid a placeholder name (like “John Doe”) and that fact that John tends to be more popular in more predominantly Catholic countries, whereas Smith, of course, is the prototypical English, Protestant name.

Hartman hasn’t conducted his analysis for any other decades (and neither has Whitepages.com) to determine what the most popular name combinations have been in the past. But census information is available for the most popular family names and most popular given names from the early days of the Republic.

Thus, in 1850, these were the most common surnames:

  1. Smith
  2. Brown
  3. Miller
  4. Johnson
  5. Jones
  6. Davis
  7. Williams
  8. Wilson
  9. Clark
  10. Taylor

The most popular boys names in 1850 were:

  1. John
  2. William
  3. James
  4. George
  5. Henry
  6. Thomas
  7. Charles
  8. Joseph
  9. Samuel
  10. David

The most popular girls names in 1850 were:

  1. Mary
  2. Sarah
  3. Elizabeth
  4. Martha
  5. Margaret
  6. Nancy
  7. Ann
  8. Jane
  9. Eliza
  10. Catherine

Going back in time to 1790, the year of the very first United States census, here are the most common nine surnames, which represented about 4 percent of the total white population:

  1. Smith
  2. Brown
  3. Davis
  4. Jones
  5. Johnson
  6. Clark
  7. Williams
  8. Miller
  9. Wilson

English and Scottish names constituted nearly the entire population, with the exception of New York, Pennsylvania, and North Carolina. Pennsylvania contributed half of all reported surnames, a reflection of the large German population there.

The most popular given names of that time for girls consisted of:

  1. Mary
  2. Elizabeth
  3. Sarah
  4. Nancy
  5. Ann
  6. Catherine
  7. Margaret
  8. Jane
  9. Susan
  10. Hannah

And for boys, the most popular names were:

  1. John
  2. William
  3. James
  4. Thomas
  5. George
  6. Joseph
  7. Samuel
  8. Henry
  9. David
  10. Daniel

Thus, while we can be fairly confident that William Smith and Mary Brown were common combinations at the time of the first census, census historians have identified a few other name combinations that are … more unique. Those unusual names included Anguish Lemmon, Mercy Pepper, Pleasant Basket, Cutlip Hoof, Hardy Baptist, Truelove Sparks, Snow Frost, Mourning Chestnut, Boston Frog, Jedediah Brickhouse, Hannah Petticoat and Hannah Cheese, Ruth Shaves, Christy Forgot, Joseph Came, Joseph Rodeback, Agreen Crabtree, River Jordan, Booze Still, Comfort Clock, Sharp Blount, Sarah Simpers, Barbary Staggers, and Noble Gun.

—Sandie Angulo Chen

Discover your family story. Start free trial.

The post Calling James Smith! 10 Most Common First and Surname Combinations appeared first on Ancestry Blog.

]]>
http://blogs.ancestry.com/cm/2015/01/20/calling-james-smith-10-most-common-first-and-surname-combinations/feed/ 0
Think You Know What Timberlake Means? Think Again.http://blogs.ancestry.com/cm/2015/01/14/think-you-know-what-timberlake-means-think-again/ http://blogs.ancestry.com/cm/2015/01/14/think-you-know-what-timberlake-means-think-again/#comments Wed, 14 Jan 2015 18:54:24 +0000 Paul Rawlins http://blogs.ancestry.com/cm/?p=6602 People didn’t always use surnames. Think about it: if you lived on a manor with only a few families or in a village with only a few more, you didn’t need two names to keep everybody straight. Surnames came about as populations grew and both people and governments needed improved ways to differentiate between people… Read more

The post Think You Know What Timberlake Means? Think Again. appeared first on Ancestry Blog.

]]>
Think You Know What Timberlake Means? Think Again.People didn’t always use surnames. Think about it: if you lived on a manor with only a few families or in a village with only a few more, you didn’t need two names to keep everybody straight. Surnames came about as populations grew and both people and governments needed improved ways to differentiate between people with the same first name.

  • 14-Day Free Trial
    GIVE ME ACCESS

Some of the earliest surnames were simply references to places. So John who lived by the stream crossing might be John Ford, while John who had a place on the lake came to be called John Dulac. Other people might adopt the name of a town or village.

Here’s what surnames have to say about where some modern celebrities’ relatives once called home.

Richard Armitage’s last name likely comes from an ancestor who lived near a hermitage (which probably had none of the comforts of Bilbo’s hobbit hole, visited by Armitage as Thorin Oakenshield). That, or he lived near one of the several places named Hermitage or Arimtage in England.

Not quite Wayne Manor, but the roots of Christian Bale’s surname could go back to someone who lived near the wall of a castle’s outer court. Meanwhile, Henry Cavill’s forbears hailed from Cavil, in Yorkshire, named for a field of noisy birds: ca (jackdaw) + feld (open country).

Our 42nd president might have been William Jefferson Glinton back in the day. This habitational name may indicate an ancestor from Glympton in Oxfordshire or Glinton in Cambridgeshire before the G sound shifted to a C.

Speaking of the letter C, where exactly does a name like Cumberbatch—as in Benedict Cumberbatch—come from? The English actor, and current king of the drama heap, had a forebear from Comberbach in northern Cheshire once upon a time.

Walt Disney’s name was actually an import from Isigny-sur-Mer in France. The Normans brought the name over with them in 1066, with a few adjustments to spelling over the years. So Disney Paris is sort of a return to the family roots.

The Hemsworth brothers may hail from Australia, but their surname emigrated from Hemsworth in West Yorkshire in England. On the other hand, Duchess of Cambridge Kate Middleton’s surname both does and does not give you an idea of where her ancestors may have come from, since there are more than 30 Middletons in England and Scotland the name might be referring to.

The source of the Pitt surname is a little less glamorous than its most famous modern bearer. As you might expect, it means that Brad’s ancestors likely lived near a pit or hollow. And Daniel Radcliffe’s last name, a variation of Ratcliff, doesn’t owe its origination to a skater term or a terminal drop-off for rodents. Radcliffes originally lived near a red cliff, slope, or riverbank.

Harry Styles’ ancestors were acquainted with an uphill climb: the original Styles likely lived near a steep path or a stile. And though we don’t typically think of Scotland as being a southern land, the Norse had a different geographical perspective and referred to the homeland of Donald Southerland’s surname accordingly.

Finally, Justin Timberlake has a now-lost place in the parish of Bayton, Worcestershire, for his name. But it doesn’t come from a wooded shoreline. It combines the Old English timber ( “timber,” “wood”) + lacu (“stream”).

Want to find out what your own surname means? Try the surname widget at Ancestry—it’s free.

The post Think You Know What Timberlake Means? Think Again. appeared first on Ancestry Blog.

]]>
http://blogs.ancestry.com/cm/2015/01/14/think-you-know-what-timberlake-means-think-again/feed/ 0
Head of the Class: Do Certain Surnames Indicate Nobility?http://blogs.ancestry.com/cm/2015/01/12/head-of-the-class-do-certain-surnames-indicate-nobility/ http://blogs.ancestry.com/cm/2015/01/12/head-of-the-class-do-certain-surnames-indicate-nobility/#comments Mon, 12 Jan 2015 21:32:55 +0000 Ancestry Team http://blogs.ancestry.com/cm/?p=6622 Do you think your family originated from the top 1 percent? According to a new study of unique last names from around the world, moving in or out of the upper class doesn’t take just a few generations — it takes centuries. Measuring not just income and wealth but also occupation, education, and longevity, researchers… Read more

The post Head of the Class: Do Certain Surnames Indicate Nobility? appeared first on Ancestry Blog.

]]>
Head of the Class: Do Certain Surnames Indicate Nobility?

[Photo credit: Shutterstock]

Do you think your family originated from the top 1 percent?

According to a new study of unique last names from around the world, moving in or out of the upper class doesn’t take just a few generations — it takes centuries.

Measuring not just income and wealth but also occupation, education, and longevity, researchers found that upper-class families took 300 to 450 years before their scions fell back into the middle class. Throughout society, poor families, taken as a whole, took an equal amount of time — 10 to 15 generations — to work their way up into the middle class.

  • 14-Day Free Trial
    GIVE ME ACCESS

Researchers at the University of California, Davis, and the London School of Economics conducted the study, which they published in the journal “Human Nature.” The researchers based their study on families with unique last names. Those unique last names made it possible to trace the families through genealogical and other public records. In England, those aristocratic names included Atthill, Bunduck, Balfour, Bramston, Cheslyn, and Conyngham.

The social scientists looked for those and other unique, upper-class surnames among students who attended Oxford and Cambridge universities between 1170 and 2012, rich property owners between 1236 and 1299, as well as probate records since 1858 — which are available on Ancestry.com.

They found that social mobility in late medieval England wasn’t any worse than in modern England. Illiterate village artisans in 1300 took seven generations to incorporate fully into the educated elite of 1500. Conversely, if you died between 1999 and 2012 and had one of the 181 rare surnames of wealthy families in the mid-19th century, you were more than three times as wealthy as the average person.

The glacial pace of overall social mobility appears to be a universal phenomenon, no matter the political forces at work. Researches found 13 unusual Chinese surnames among the educated elite in the 19th century. Today, despite the Chinese Communist revolution, social upheavals of the Cultural Revolution, and exile of many families to Taiwan and Hong Kong, holders of the 13 surnames are still disproportionately affluent and influential as professors and students at elite universities, government officials, and heads of corporate boards.

Researchers aren’t sure why social mobility appears to move so slowly, despite outside political and social forces, and suspect genetics may play a role.

The United States isn’t even old enough yet to test the researchers’ theory. But that hasn’t stopped many observers from identifying certain surnames that connote wealth in the United States.

There are, for example, about 100 Mellons alive today sharing $12 billion, the fruit of a bank their forefather Andrew W. Mellon founded in the mid-1800s. The several hundred living members of the Rockefellers share $10 billion in wealth that started when John D. Rockefeller founded Standard Oil in 1870.

With just $1 billion, the Kennedy family’s wealth is eclipsed by the assets of less romantic family dynasties (the wealthiest family in the world, the Waltons, trace their riches to the founding of Wal-Mart in 1962), but the 30 Kennedy heirs live with a name associated with America’s Camelot.

Time will tell how long it takes those heirs to end up driving a cab. In the meantime, if you have a unique surname, or even if your last name is Smith, Ancestry can help you find out where your ancestors worked, how well they were educated, and how long they lived — all signs, according to researchers, of their place in the social hierarchy.

— Sandie Angulo Chen

Discover your own family’s upward (or downward) mobility. Start a free trial.

The post Head of the Class: Do Certain Surnames Indicate Nobility? appeared first on Ancestry Blog.

]]>
http://blogs.ancestry.com/cm/2015/01/12/head-of-the-class-do-certain-surnames-indicate-nobility/feed/ 0
10 Big Facts You Didn’t Know About WWIhttp://blogs.ancestry.com/cm/2015/01/06/10-big-facts-you-didnt-know-about-world-war-i/ http://blogs.ancestry.com/cm/2015/01/06/10-big-facts-you-didnt-know-about-world-war-i/#comments Tue, 06 Jan 2015 18:30:37 +0000 Ancestry Team http://blogs.ancestry.com/cm/?p=6607   It’s been a hundred years since Archduke Franz Ferdinand was assassinated in Sarajevo in 1914. That, of course, set off the chain of reactions and events that led to “the Great War,” as people called World War I at the time. By now, you’d think we know everything there is to know about “the… Read more

The post 10 Big Facts You Didn’t Know About WWI appeared first on Ancestry Blog.

]]>
 

10 Big Facts You Didn’t Know About World War I

[Photo credit: Library of Congress]

It’s been a hundred years since Archduke Franz Ferdinand was assassinated in Sarajevo in 1914. That, of course, set off the chain of reactions and events that led to “the Great War,” as people called World War I at the time. By now, you’d think we know everything there is to know about “the war to end all wars” — one that caused 16 million deaths and changed our world forever — but here are 10 interesting facts about World War I you may not know.

  • 14-Day Free Trial
    GIVE ME ACCESS

  1. World War I began only 11 years after Wilbur and Orville Wright’s first successful airplane flight at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, in 1903 — and yet by the end of the war, four years later, the two sides had produced more than 65,000 aircraft.
  2. The war’s famous “Western Front,” reaching from the English Channel to Switzerland, was only 466 miles long. Yet it had more than 25,000 miles of trenches and averaged one soldier for every four inches.
  3. Sidney Lewis is the youngest person known to have lied about his age and successfully joined the war. The British boy was only 12 when he enlisted in the East Surrey Regiment. He fought in the Battle of the Somme for six weeks at age 13 before his mother wrote to the War Office. She attached his birth certificate to the letter, and Sidney was dispatched home. (You can search for your ancestor’s World War I military records on Ancestry.)
  4. Miners dug under German trenches at Messines Ridge in Belgium and set off almost a million pounds of explosives. That blast was so loud people heard it 140 miles away in London.
  5. Toward the end of the war, the French built a decoy Parisian city to fool German pilots to spare the real city in case of a bomb attack. The replica city, constructed in a time before sophisticated radar, was located along the Seine some 15 miles outside of Paris. It included roads, buildings, and what looked like railways, and was lit up at night. It had an Arc de Triomphe, a Champs-Elysées, a Gare Du Nord and an Opera House, as well as other familiar Paris quarters. The war and German bombing raids ended before it was tested. After the war, it was quickly dismantled.
  6. The first-ever tank prototype — built during World War I, in 1915 — was called “Little Willie.” It carried a two-person crew plus four gunners and traveled 2 mph.
  7. Tanks were originally called “landships,” but the British renamed them “tanks” (for water storage tanks) so the enemy wouldn’t recognize they were weapons. British tanks were either “male,” and carried cannons, or “female,” and had machine guns.
  8. In order to protect themselves from chemical gas attacks, soldiers held cloths or cotton pads soaked in their urine over their faces. At the war’s end, many countries signed treaties that outlawed the use of chemical weapons.
  9. “Canary girls” were women who worked in British ammunitions factories. More than a million women took those jobs, which were sometimes fatal. They got that nickname because their skin and sometimes hair turned yellow from toxic jaundice resulting from TNT poisoning.
  10. A carrier pigeon named Cher Ami saved 198 U.S. soldiers trapped behind enemy lines. The soldiers had sent a number of pigeons telling the U.S. army their location, but the birds were shot down. Cher Ami was injured but persevered and flew high enough to avoid further bullets. He delivered the message to the U.S. Army, and the trapped soldiers were rescued.

Search for your ancestor’s World War I military records.

—Leslie Lang

 

The post 10 Big Facts You Didn’t Know About WWI appeared first on Ancestry Blog.

]]>
http://blogs.ancestry.com/cm/2015/01/06/10-big-facts-you-didnt-know-about-world-war-i/feed/ 0
4 British WWII Heroes You’ve Never Heard Ofhttp://blogs.ancestry.com/cm/2014/12/31/4-british-wwii-heroes-youve-never-heard-of/ http://blogs.ancestry.com/cm/2014/12/31/4-british-wwii-heroes-youve-never-heard-of/#comments Wed, 31 Dec 2014 18:31:03 +0000 Paul Rawlins http://blogs.ancestry.com/cm/?p=6555 Anyone can spout off Winston Churchill and King George VI as prominent Englishmen in the Second World War, but they certainly weren’t the only Brits of wartime significance. Here’s a look at four, fascinating English men and women whose stories of heroism in WWII went relatively untold for decades. Eileen Nearne Topping the list is… Read more

The post 4 British WWII Heroes You’ve Never Heard Of appeared first on Ancestry Blog.

]]>
Anyone can spout off Winston Churchill and King George VI as prominent Englishmen in the Second World War, but they certainly weren’t the only Brits of wartime significance. Here’s a look at four, fascinating English men and women whose stories of heroism in WWII went relatively untold for decades.

Eileen Nearne
Topping the list is a story of an inspiring female, an unsung British heroine, Eileen Nearne. Eileen grew up in France but escaped to Britain during the Nazi invasion. Once safely in Britain, her French upbringing proved invaluable when she became a spy for the Special Operations Executive (known informally as “Churchill’s Secret Army”) and parachuted into France to go deep undercover—all before her twenty-third birthday.

  • 14-Day Free Trial
    GIVE ME ACCESS

In France, she lived in constant peril, operating a secret radio line between London and Paris that arranged weapons drops to the French Resistance. Eventually captured by the Gestapo and sent to Ravensbruck concentration camp, Eileen was brutally tortured, but she never revealed her true identity or mission. She was then shuttled from death camp to death camp until she finally escaped (twice!) and reached safety. If that isn’t a Hollywood-worthy hero’s tale, I don’t know what is!

Sir Thomas Peirson Frank
When contemplating wartime heroes, we often think of brave soldiers fighting on the front lines, but Sir Thomas Peirson Frank was a British war-time hero of a different breed—he was a civil engineer. Although his unique mission was kept top secret at the time, his protective role to the people of London during the Battle of Britain was immense.

Peirson Frank was the mastermind behind a flood protection system to protect low-lying London from drowning during constant air raids. He identified at-risk areas and led a secret unit to implement and maintain secondary flood defenses. His efforts were kept secret so the enemy wouldn’t target vulnerable areas and to prevent general panic and alarm.

It was not until recent years that historians have discovered Peirson Frank’s contribution to London’s wartime defenses. In total, he is credited with saving London from flooding no less than 121 times. How’s that for putting some brains to good use?

Bill Tutte
Speaking of brainiacs serving king and country, Bill Tutte is another worthy British World War II hero of little celebrity. As a child, Bill was always a math whiz, earning himself a scholarship to the University of Cambridge. While at university, Bill was recruited along with some other classmates to work at Bletchley Park, decoding messages sent from Hitler’s high command by means of a machine called the Enigma.

However, Bletchley Park received word that Hitler was using a more complicated machine—the Lorenz system—to send some top-secret messages to his inner circle. After six months of work, Bill was able to successfully decode the Lorenz system (without ever seeing the actual machine), granting the Allies access to some of Hitler’s most important communications. His work was directly instrumental in the success of the D-Day invasions.

Major Douglas Lidderdale
Major Douglas Lidderdale is another unknown figure who can claim some part in D-Day’s success. Working under direct orders from Winston Churchill, he led one of the most dangerous, covert operations of World War II.

Three days after his wedding, Major Lidderdale and his team travelled to Tunisia with direct instructions from Churchill to bring back a Tiger tank. The Tiger tank was an infamous Nazi death machine, capable of destroying hundreds of Allied tanks in mere hours and inspiring fear in the Allied troops—a condition known as “Tigerphobia.”

Tiger tanks were virtually unstoppable and severely threatened troop morale. Churchill set about to solve this problem by sending Major Lidderdale to capture one; if Allied engineers could get their hands on a Tiger tank, they could learn how to destroy them. After several unsuccessful, life-threatening attempts to fulfill his mission, Lidderdale was finally able to capture and deliver a Tiger tank to Churchill. The new technology resulting from this important mission was used to develop war machines for D-Day.

—Connie Ray

Discover your family story. Start a free trial today.

The post 4 British WWII Heroes You’ve Never Heard Of appeared first on Ancestry Blog.

]]>
http://blogs.ancestry.com/cm/2014/12/31/4-british-wwii-heroes-youve-never-heard-of/feed/ 0
Yes, That’s Grandpa in a Dresshttp://blogs.ancestry.com/cm/2014/12/31/yes-thats-grandpa-in-a-dress/ http://blogs.ancestry.com/cm/2014/12/31/yes-thats-grandpa-in-a-dress/#comments Wed, 31 Dec 2014 00:20:40 +0000 Ancestry Team http://blogs.ancestry.com/cm/?p=6571 Blue is for boys. Pink is for girls. Right? It wasn’t always that way. Tastes in children’s fashions have changed with every generation. Believe it or not, pink used to be the color of choice for dressing little boys. Not only that, but Grandpa (or Great-grandpa) probably wore a dress until he was about 6.… Read more

The post Yes, That’s Grandpa in a Dress appeared first on Ancestry Blog.

]]>
3-year-old FDR

FDR at 3 years old
[Image credit: FDR Library]

Blue is for boys. Pink is for girls. Right?

It wasn’t always that way. Tastes in children’s fashions have changed with every generation. Believe it or not, pink used to be the color of choice for dressing little boys. Not only that, but Grandpa (or Great-grandpa) probably wore a dress until he was about 6.

  • 14-Day Free Trial
    GIVE ME ACCESS

For the past three centuries or more, white was overwhelmingly considered the color for children’s clothing in both the U.S. and Europe. Dresses made sense for both sexes, since the diapering process would have been much hindered in the days before zippers, snaps and velcro. And white was practical because white cotton fabric can be bleached repeatedly. Pastel colors for children’s clothing were introduced midway through the 19th century, but their use in differentiating sex didn’t begin until just prior to World War I.

Red was thought of as a strong color and therefore considered “masculine.” Since pink is a lighter shade of red, many women’s magazines of the period recommended that mothers dress their sons in pink, reserving the “daintier” pale blue for their daughters. White dresses could be accessorized to indicate the child’s sex, such as a red sash for a boy or a pale blue one for a girl, but by and large all children were dressed the same until age 6 or so, which was also around the time they’d receive their first haircut. Historical images available through Ancestry will show you a pint-sized future President Franklin Delano Roosevelt wearing a dress, his hair in long curls, and a pre-Hollywood Clark Gable in a frock.

Specific clothing for boys and girls didn’t truly become popular until the 1940s, when the dress fell out of fashion for male infants. Short pants became the gold standard for baby boys, with dresses for girls, echoing the dress of their parents. Neutral clothing, however, continued to be popular for newborns and young infants, and neutral colors remained the standard for nursery decor.

A generation later, the retail marketing machine seems to have taken over. According to Jo Paoletti, author of a history of children’s clothing customs, 1985 was a watershed year, as it is when retailers began carrying clothing customized to either a boy or a girl, using motifs such as soccer balls or flowers to differentiate them.

With the advent of more sophisticated ultrasound technology, many of today’s parents find out the sex of their baby as soon as possible, and then base clothing, decorating and baby gear purchases upon it. As a result, it is nearly impossible to find neutral baby clothing in retail stores.

However, the current backlash against the “gendering” of childhood may well predict a comeback for neutral clothing, decor and equipment for the next generation. But what will replace the frock?

—Melanie Linn Gutowski

Discover your family story. Start free trial.

The post Yes, That’s Grandpa in a Dress appeared first on Ancestry Blog.

]]>
http://blogs.ancestry.com/cm/2014/12/31/yes-thats-grandpa-in-a-dress/feed/ 0
Pilgrims’ Progress: 7 Celebrities Who Are Mayflower Descendentshttp://blogs.ancestry.com/cm/2014/12/30/pilgrims-progress-7-celebrities-who-are-mayflower-descendents/ http://blogs.ancestry.com/cm/2014/12/30/pilgrims-progress-7-celebrities-who-are-mayflower-descendents/#comments Tue, 30 Dec 2014 22:45:13 +0000 Ancestry Team http://blogs.ancestry.com/cm/?p=6564 Visit any town in Massachusetts for a day, and there’s a good chance someone will point to a big fancy house and say, “That family’s been here since the Mayflower.” But it isn’t just wealthy New Englanders who can claim they’re descended from those first Pilgrims. Not at all. Given how far and wide families… Read more

The post Pilgrims’ Progress: 7 Celebrities Who Are Mayflower Descendents appeared first on Ancestry Blog.

]]>
Visit any town in Massachusetts for a day, and there’s a good chance someone will point to a big fancy house and say, “That family’s been here since the Mayflower.”

But it isn’t just wealthy New Englanders who can claim they’re descended from those first Pilgrims. Not at all. Given how far and wide families spread in this country, and the fact that those 102 English Separatists who stepped foot on this continent in 1620 are about 14 generations away from us, a lot of people from varied walks of life can find an ancestor among that ship’s manifest. And among those people, there’s a different set of rarefied Americans: celebrities. Here are some of the famous faces whose family trees contain a Plymouth settler or two.

  • 14-Day Free Trial
    GIVE ME ACCESS

1. Ashley Judd

In Season 2 of “Who Do You Think You Are?” the actress discovered she’s a descendant of Plymouth Church elder William Brewster, who was a wanted man in England for printing Separatist tracts on his own press.

2. Katharine Hepburn

It shouldn’t surprise anyone that the Oscar winner, with her distinctive upper-class Connecticut accent, had deep New England roots, going back to Brewster as well.

3. Marilyn Monroe

Norma Jeane Mortenson had a tough early life, spending time in foster homes due to her mother’s mental illness. But there was at least one success story in her genes: John Alden, who came to America as the Plymouth Colony’s cooper and married fellow passenger Priscilla Mullins, eventually founding the town of Druxbury and having 10 children. Another of his descendants is Dick Van Dyke.

4. Alec Baldwin

Everybody thinks of the famous Baldwin brothers as being Irish-Catholic Long Island boys to the core. On their father’s side, however, they can trace their roots back to John Howland, who came over as a young indentured servant to first Plymouth governor John Carver and fell overboard during the Mayflower journey. Humphrey Bogart, Joseph Smith, George W. Bush, and Christopher Lloyd are all Howland cousins.

5. Clint Eastwood

Though the “Dirty Harry” star-turned-Oscar-winning director came from a working-class California family, further back into his ancestry he’s actually related to Plymouth’s second governor, William Bradford. Bradford’s first wife drowned while the Mayflower was docked in Cape Cod, but he remarried and had three children, whose offspring are also found in the family trees of Hugh Hefner, Christopher Reeve, and John Lithgow.

6. Sally Field

The Lincoln actress discovered that she, too, is a descendant of Governor Bradford in a recent episode of PBS’s Finding Your Roots.

7. Richard Gere

Gere is a rarer breed than his fellow actors, with six Mayflower passengers among his ancestors on his father’s side: Samuel Fuller, Francis Eaton, Francis Cooke, George Soule, Degory Priest and Richard Warren.

Do you wonder if you’ve got Pilgrims in your roots? Maybe you’re even Marilyn Monroe’s long-lost cousin. Start your research now with a free trial.

—Sabrina Rojas Weiss

The post Pilgrims’ Progress: 7 Celebrities Who Are Mayflower Descendents appeared first on Ancestry Blog.

]]>
http://blogs.ancestry.com/cm/2014/12/30/pilgrims-progress-7-celebrities-who-are-mayflower-descendents/feed/ 0
Eight Celebs With Royal Ancestryhttp://blogs.ancestry.com/cm/2014/12/30/eight-celebs-with-royal-ancestry/ http://blogs.ancestry.com/cm/2014/12/30/eight-celebs-with-royal-ancestry/#comments Tue, 30 Dec 2014 22:25:56 +0000 Ancestry Team http://blogs.ancestry.com/cm/?p=6563 After years entrancing audiences and thrilling moviegoers, a few talented actors reach such heights of fame that we consider them Hollywood royalty: George Clooney. Leonardo DiCaprio. Julia Roberts. Before them, Elizabeth Taylor, Katherine Hepburn, Cary Grant. But some actors are lucky enough to rank as royalty the first time they ever stepped onto a set.… Read more

The post Eight Celebs With Royal Ancestry appeared first on Ancestry Blog.

]]>
Eight celebs with royal ancestry

[Photo credit: Dennis Jarvis on Flickr]

After years entrancing audiences and thrilling moviegoers, a few talented actors reach such heights of fame that we consider them Hollywood royalty: George Clooney. Leonardo DiCaprio. Julia Roberts. Before them, Elizabeth Taylor, Katherine Hepburn, Cary Grant. But some actors are lucky enough to rank as royalty the first time they ever stepped onto a set. These actors are literally Hollywood royalty, descended from kings, queens, chieftains, and nobles from around the world:

  • 14-Day Free Trial
    GIVE ME ACCESS

Rose Leslie: Long before Rose Leslie stormed the fictional Castle Black on HBO’s fantasy series “Game of Thrones,” she marauded another castle — her own. Leslie was born and raised in Lickleyhead Castle, which has been her family’s home in Aberdeenshire, Scotland, since the 15th century. Leslie’s father is the chieftain of Aberdeenshire clan Leslie, and her mother is a descendant of King Charles II, who restored the English throne in 1660 after the English Civil War and the execution of his father, King Charles I, in 1649. Last year, Leslie’s parents put Lickleyhead Castle on the market for 1.3 million pounds. But don’t fear that Leslie, who got her big break as a maid in the first season of “Downton Abbey,” faces homelessness. Her family just moved a few miles away into their other home, the 12th-century Warthill Castle.

Kit Harrington: Rose Leslie isn’t the only cast member of “Game of Thrones” with a ancestral link to an actual throne. Kit Harrington, who stars as Jon Snow on the HBO series (and falls in love with Leslie’s character, Ygritte), is also related to King Charles II. Harrington claims the royal connection through his grandmother Lavender Cecilia Denny. She was married to Richard Harington, the 12th Baronet Harington, a title that has existed since the 1400s. Despite the posh lineage, Harrington insists his childhood wasn’t too far from normal. “My parents didn’t have a lot of money when I was growing up,” Harrington told the London Evening Standard newspaper. “We were comfortable, but I didn’t go to Oxbridge, and yet every American interviewer I get says to me, ‘You’re related to Charles II! Your grandfather was a baronet!’”

Tilda Swinton: The Academy Award-winning British actress known for her roles in everything from commercial franchises (“The Chronicles of Narnia”) and high-concept sci-fi adventures (“Snowpiercer”) to critically acclaimed independent films (“Only Lovers Left Alive”) and prestige fare (“Michael Clayton”) is related to Scottish nobility on both sides of her family. Swinton is 19 generations removed from legendary Scottish king Robert the Bruce, who freed Scotland from English rule in the 14th century. Both her father and mother trace their ancestry to Robert II, Bruce’s grandson. Swinton’s father is descended from the Duke of Albany, Robert II’s illegitimate son. Swinton’s mother is descended from Robert II’s mistress, Mariotta Cardney.

Yaphet Kotto: Veteran character actor Yaphet Kotto, costar of the classic 1979 sci-fi horror film “Alien” and the popular cop drama “Homicide: Life on the Street,” claimed in a 1997 autobiography that he was African royalty. According to Kotto, he is the great-great-grandson of King Alexander Bell, who ruled the Douala region of Cameroon in the late 19th century, before the West African nation became colonized by Germany, France, and Britain. According to Kotto, his father, who had converted to Judaism in Cameroon, emigrated to Harlem in the 1920s and changed his name to Abraham Kotto, adopting a relative’s surname. And while Kotto may be descended from West African royalty, he claims his family has a touch of English nobility as well. He alleges King Bell’s daughter had an affair with Britain’s Edward VII while he was the Prince of Wales in the late 19th century. Unfortunately for Kotto, however, the British royal family has denied that claim and stated, “We can confirm that Edward VII never visited Cameroon, nor do we have any record of an alleged relationship between Edward VII and Princess Nakande.”

Catherine Oxenberg: Model and actress Catherine Oxenberg, who famously played Amanda Carrington on “Dynasty” in the 1980s, is direct European royalty, albeit of the deposed kind. Her mother, who lives in England, is Princess Elisabeth of Yugoslavia. Princess Elisabeth’s father was Prince Paul of Yugoslavia. Prince Paul served as regent to the king of Yugoslavia, his first cousin once-removed, who was deposed in 1945. Catherine’s good looks won her roles — twice — as Princess Diana, the wife of Catherine’s second cousin once-removed. She played Diana in 1982, the year of the royal wedding, and again in 1992, the year Diana and Charles announced their separation.

Dakota and Elle Fanning: Elle Fanning, who played Princess Aurora earlier this year in Disney’s Cinderella retelling “Maleficent,” is descended from an actual princess, as is her older sister, actress Dakota Fanning. The Fannings are the 22nd great-granddaughters of King Edward III, who ruled England from 1330 to 1376. That ever-so-faint bloodline runs through the Fanning girls’ mother, Heather Joy Arrington (who also happens to be the daughter of former Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Rick Arrington). Genealogists at Ancestry have also determined that the actresses are the 21st cousins of Kate Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge and wife of Englands’s Prince William. Middleton’s mother, Carole Goldsmith, is also a distant granddaughter of King Edward III.

Akosua Busia: Although Akosua Busia hasn’t appeared much on screen recently, this multi-faceted talent made a big impact with acting and writing roles in the 1980s and ’90s. In 1988, she co-starred in “The Color Purple” as Nettie, the sister of main character Celie, played by Whoopi Goldberg. A decade later, she wrote the original script for “Beloved,” the film adapted from Toni Morrison’s novel starring Oprah Winfrey (Busia’s sister, an English professor, had given her an early copy of the book). She also co-wrote the song “Moon Blue” with Stevie Wonder for his album “A Time 2 Love” and has also written novels. Busia is not only a thespian and a writer, she’s also a princess in the Royal House of Wenchi in Ghana. Her father, Kofi Abrefa Busia, was Prime Minister of Ghana from 1969 to 1972.

—Sandie Angulo Chen

Got royal blood in your veins? Discover your family story. Start free trial.

The post Eight Celebs With Royal Ancestry appeared first on Ancestry Blog.

]]>
http://blogs.ancestry.com/cm/2014/12/30/eight-celebs-with-royal-ancestry/feed/ 0
Which of “America’s Next Top Model’s” Male Contestants Share an Ethnicity?http://blogs.ancestry.com/cm/2014/12/29/which-of-these-americas-next-top-models-share-an-ethnicity/ http://blogs.ancestry.com/cm/2014/12/29/which-of-these-americas-next-top-models-share-an-ethnicity/#comments Mon, 29 Dec 2014 18:42:01 +0000 Ancestry Team http://blogs.ancestry.com/cm/?p=6545 On this season of America’s Next Top Model, host Tyra Banks added a new twist: each of the contestants underwent AncestryDNA genetic testing, along with Tyra herself. When they received the results, they learned that not only are their family backgrounds vastly more diverse than they ever expected but also that they have more in… Read more

The post Which of “America’s Next Top Model’s” Male Contestants Share an Ethnicity? appeared first on Ancestry Blog.

]]>
On this season of America’s Next Top Model, host Tyra Banks added a new twist: each of the contestants underwent AncestryDNA genetic testing, along with Tyra herself. When they received the results, they learned that not only are their family backgrounds vastly more diverse than they ever expected but also that they have more in common with each other than meets the eye. No one was more surprised to learn of their shared ancestry than two of the male contestants on the show who shared a surprising three common ethnicities.

It was Will Jardell and Denzel Wells who discovered that they both have Finnish, Scandinavian, and European Jewish ancestry. (Fellow contestant Adam found out he’s Korean, Irish, and Polynesian.) Coincidentally, Tyra delivered the news to the two Texans on the heels of a heated argument they’d had on the show, and they chose to take this as a lesson on how little their conflict really meant.

After the models submitted a small saliva sample, AncestryDNA was able to analyze more than 700,000 locations on their DNA map, looking for genetic markers associated with people from 26 different regions of the world. Though on the surface, you might simply label Will as a white American of Northern European descent and Denzel as an African American, their DNA tells a much deeper story.

AncestryDNA’s Ken Chahine told Will that he’s probably got a grandparent or great-grandparent from the region of the Iberian Peninsula. He was also able to tell Denzel that his African ancestors came primarily from Benin, Togo, and Senegal. In addition to his European origins, Denzel also has Native American and Asian genes in his mix.

Are you curious about what your genes say about your family history?

—Sabrina Rojas Weiss


Discover more about your story with DNA.

Get AncestryDNA

The post Which of “America’s Next Top Model’s” Male Contestants Share an Ethnicity? appeared first on Ancestry Blog.

]]>
http://blogs.ancestry.com/cm/2014/12/29/which-of-these-americas-next-top-models-share-an-ethnicity/feed/ 0