10 Rare English Surnames About to Go Extinct

Posted by Ancestry Team on November 5, 2014 in Surnames

Did you know that surnames can go extinct just like species do? Think about it: do you know anyone these days named Chaucer? One historical reason for surnames becoming extinct was World War I. Often, men who were friends and neighbors served together; when there were mass casualties, a village or town might lose a… Read more

Johnson: A History of the Popular American Surname

Posted by Ancestry Team on November 5, 2014 in Surnames

The English surname Johnson is a patronymic, meaning the name was originally derived from a father’s name. When people started adopting last names, the first Johnson was the son of a man named John. What’s thought to be the earliest recorded use of Johnson as a surname — spelled Jonessone — was in England in… Read more

Finding Your Roots on PBS

Posted by wexon on October 30, 2014 in Finding Your Roots

Have you seen the PBS show, Finding Your Roots? If you haven’t then you are missing out on how Henry Louis Gates Jr. takes each celebrity on a journey in discovering the stories of those who came before them and the connection they have to them today. You will see how traditional research and DNA… Read more

13 Spooky Family History Finds

Posted by wexon on October 30, 2014 in Family History

Witches, ghosts, murder—researchers from Ancestry found them all and more when they started combing the headlines for spooky facts in some current, and former, celebrities’ pasts. Real Witch Found in Emma Watson’s Family Tree: Muggle actress Emma Watson, famous for playing Hermione Granger, the preternaturally talented witch and ally of Harry Potter, has a real-life… Read more

Finding Your Roots: Anderson Cooper Investigates His Own History

Posted by Ancestry Team on October 29, 2014 in Finding Your Roots

As the child of famed high-society staple Gloria Vanderbilt, Anderson Cooper could easily open any history book about New York City and find details about relatives on his maternal line. But his famous jeans-designing mother was only partially responsible for Anderson’s genes. Though he’s typically the one digging deep into stories, he turned the reins… Read more

Finding Your Roots: Documentary Filmmaker Ken Burns Uncovers Lincoln Connection

Posted by Ancestry Team on October 29, 2014 in Finding Your Roots

Documentary filmmaker Ken Burns is well known for his lengthy and well-researched films, notably his five-part series The Civil War. But until his turn on Finding Your Roots’ “Our American Storytellers” episode, Burns didn’t have a true understanding of how deeply his own family tree was intertwined with that war. Ken was born in Brooklyn… Read more

The Story Behind America’s 4th Most Popular Surname

Posted by Ancestry Team on October 29, 2014 in Surnames

The last name Brown essentially derives from a nickname. In England, Scotland, or Ireland, those with brown or red hair, or dark skin, might have been called “Brown,” and the name stuck. Sometimes, it has roots in a translation from another language, such as the French “Brun,” the German “Braun,” or the Gaelic “Donn.” In… Read more