How Far Back Do Surnames Go? A Brief History

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Last names are a lot of fun – but sometimes they aren’t super easy to track. Then again, it’s also a lot easier to track family history when you’ve got a family surname to help you make sure you’ve got the right Charles! So how far back do surnames go? Surnames in China date back … Read more

Are All People with the Same Last Name Related?

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While dating my now-husband, it made me laugh when people asked him if he was related to famous people with his same last name. Now that we’re married, though, I’m getting that same question about being related to other Starrs. Are all people with the same last name related? Spoiler alert: no. Two people with … Read more

When Did Your Ancestors Come to America? Let’s Find Out!

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Thanks to statistics and how history played out, the odds are that your family hasn’t been in America for more than a few hundred years at most. This means that, at some point, someone in your family line immigrated to America. When did my ancestors come to America? Immigrants to the United States are usually … Read more

Family History: When Did Granddad Become a Citizen?

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America is a land of opportunity and immigrants. So when you’re trying to find more about your family, it can help to discover when your family became a US citizen. So, when did my grandfather become a US citizen? To find out when a grandfather (or another relative) became a citizen of the United States, … Read more

Who Should You Include in Your Family Tree?

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As I do my genealogy, things get crazy fast when you’re from a yours-mine-and-ours type of family. Especially when you’ve got two brothers (one from another mother) with the same first name. The family tree gets complicated quickly. But do I leave someone out just to simplify? Who should you include in your family tree? … Read more

Can Anyone Today Trace their Family to Roman Times?

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Roman history is full, rich, and deeply nuanced. It’s fun to imagine what it would be like back then – and it’s intriguing to wonder what your ancestors did back then. Were they part of the vast Roman empire? Or were they elsewhere in the world? Can anyone trace their family to Roman times? While … Read more

How Many Generations Until You Are No Longer Related?

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Tracing genealogy is a fun thing, but it can bring up some interesting questions – especially in relation to marriages, relation, and potential inbreeding. For example, how many generations until you’re no longer related to someone? The distance (or the number of generations) required before no longer being considered related to someone depends on how … Read more

Last Names that Come from Nature: 15 Origin Stories

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Finding out about your last name is cool. But what if your family’s name has ties to nature? Can that help you learn about where you’re from or how your family took up that nature-based last name? Last names that come from nature can give clues to where a family comes from, where they lived, … Read more

How Accurate is Mormon Genealogy?

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Growing up, I assumed that all records were both boring and infallibly correct. As it turns out, not all records are boring – and it’s important to question the validity of every record. How accurate are Mormon records? Mormon genealogy records are based on a shared database, which means there can be errors due to … Read more

Ancestry: How Far Back Do Records Actually Go?

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While indexing isn’t one of my favorite activities, I know it’s important because it creates digital access to vital records. But how far back do ancestry and genealogy records actually go? And how far back can I expect to find genealogy records? The earliest genealogical records are from China in 1500 B.C. European-based records go … Read more