What Was Life Like For Your Poorest Ancestors?

Much of the history we learned about in school — and in all those epic movies and miniseries since then — is the story of the ruling class and the wealthy. If your ancestors weren’t among those lucky few, as far as history books are concerned, it’s almost as if they didn’t exist. And if Read More

Sandie’s Story: A Cultural Chameleon Discovers Her True Roots

Meet Sandie. She’s a writer, a mom, and a cultural chameleon – easily mistaken for “whatever the cab driver” in New York thinks is her ethnicity. She took an AncestryDNA test to find out her true origins – and the results were very surprising: Sandie’s always considered herself Latina, since both her parents were born in Colombia. But people Read More

Genealogy: the Second Most Popular Hobby in the US?

Family history research is the second-most popular hobby in the United States, according to articles in TIME and USA TODAY by author and former LA Times columnist Gregory Rodriguez. How did genealogy get so popular? The advent of the internet certainly helped, making billions of records like census data and passenger lists easily accessible. You Read More

The Greatest Cons: 5 Cunning Historical Scams

Con men and swindlers are as much a part of American lore as pioneers and prospectors. As the country grew, they followed the railways and preyed on frontier optimism, constantly inventing new ways to make a buck. These five cunning historical scams show just how enterprising — and gullible — people can be. Three-Card Monte Three-card Read More

Behind the Ancestry Commercial with Channing Joseph

Have you seen the Ancestry commercial where Channing Joseph talks about Marianne Gaspard, his 5th-great-grandmother? If so you no doubt wondered, “Is there more to Channing’s story? Who was Marianne Gaspard?” It All Began With A College Kid’s Curiosity Channing studied abroad in South Africa. He watched Roots and read a lot of books about African Read More

Jeannette Rankin Was Elected to Congress Before Women Could Vote

Jeannette Rankin was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1916—four years before women were guaranteed the right to vote. Talk about a pioneer for women’s rights. This is her incredible story. Social Worker Turned Activist Before she became the first woman elected to national office, Rankin was a social worker. Frustrated that female Read More

How Did People Survive the Winter Hundreds of Years Ago?

Generations ago, it was not so easy to function during the winter. Survival was anything but guaranteed. People had to take extreme measures just to get through the cold and snow for months out of the year. How people survived the winter, from the Middle Ages to the last century, might surprise you. They’d Wear (Even Wet) Read More

Can You Beat This Quiz on U.S. Presidents?

How well do you know your U.S. presidents? Test your knowledge with this fun quiz! Bonus trivia: President Lincoln not only has movie star descendants, his last name means ‘lake colony.’ The meaning of your last name is just the start. Find your famous ancestors and family stories with a free trial of Ancestry.     

How Immigrating to America Saved a Boy from Auschwitz

Polish immigrant Albert Donner moved to America to join his older brother in 1936. The rest of his family was supposed to follow, but they never made it. This is Albert’s story, in his own words: Albert Harold Donner was just 10 years old when he arrived in America. He had been born in a small village Read More

The Surprising Places Jewish Refugees Settled During World War II

The 1930s marked a dark time. Just as the Nazis were sweeping through Germany, countries were tightening their immigration policies in the wake of the Great Depression. The United States, for instance, kept strict quotas on immigrants’ country of origin. Only 124,000 German Jews were allowed to enter between 1938 and 1941. Thus, Jewish refugees Read More