LEHI, UT—Ancestry®, the leader in family history, today released survey findings that half (50%) of Americans know more about families from their favorite TV shows than their own family tree* – and more than half (53%) can’t name all four of their grandparents**. While Americans spend countless hours captivated by their favorite shows, in reality, people’s own family stories are often just as compelling as the fictional ones they love and follow – with triumphs, twists, successes, struggles and even scandals
Ancestry teamed up with actress Sarah Hyland from Emmy-winning Modern Family, for an episode of “2 Lies & A Leaf®” to discuss her personal knowledge of her family history and how that rivals her extensive knowledge of her fictional TV family. Joined by her husband and TV personality Wells Adams, the newlyweds put their family history knowledge to the test. Complete with mysterious deaths, a haunted hotel, and even parallels to Sarah’s iconic role as Haley Dunphy, Sarah discovered her own family stories are equally as script-worthy – and now she’s encouraging everyone to find and share their own.
“Over the years, millions of people fell in love with Modern Family’s characters, comedy, conflict and plot twists,” said Sarah Hyland. “And if you think about it, our family stories also have these same elements. Piecing together the details makes the family history journey so much fun. I can’t wait to discover the next episode in my own story.”
While many Americans know more about fictional TV families, three-fourths (75%) are interested in learning more about their own family history*. With the help of Ancestry, Sarah and Wells discovered their own family stories that are stranger than fiction:
- Sarah learned her second great-granduncle traveled on top of a freight train and later saved people during a deadly hurricane. Through an obituary record, Sarah learned he went on to own the luxurious Skirvin Hotel, which is rumored to be haunted after a mysterious death.
- Tip: An obituary can act like a ‘starter kit’ for family history, with details like place of birth, marriage, occupation, residence, and family members.
- Mirroring Wells’ role as the witty bartender on a reality dating show, a 1932 newspaper article revealed his great-grandfather was a bootlegger during Prohibition.
- Tip: Explore more than 8 billion articles and 700 million pages of historical newspapers on Newspapers.com™, which can provide rich details about your family throughout time including major life events, news articles and photos.
- Sarah discovered sisters in her family tree similar to the Dunphy sisters, Haley and Alex. Sarah’s second great-grandmother appeared to be a bit of a partygoer, according to a “Society” section feature in a newspaper – and a census record revealed she was also into fashion, with her occupation listed as a hat maker. Meanwhile, her sister is listed as a medical doctor.
- Tip: A census record can help you learn about your family, with details like home address, occupations, names and ages of members of the household, how much money they made at the time, and more.
- Using the Ancestry photo colorization tool, Sarah was able to colorize a 1951 yearbook photo of her grandmother. The resemblance between the two women is uncanny, accentuated by the newly vibrant edit of the original black and white photo.
- Tip: Click here to learn how to colorize your family photos on the Ancestry mobile app or a desktop.
Sarah Hyland and Wells Adams’ “2 Lies & A Leaf®” episode debuts today on the Ancestry YouTube Channel here. Visit Ancestry.com to start building a family tree for free, so you can know your family like you know your fiction.
Ancestry®, the global leader in family history and consumer genomics, empowers journeys of personal discovery to enrich lives. With our unparalleled collection of more than 30 billion records, over 3 million subscribers and over 22 million people in our growing DNA network, customers can discover their family story and gain a new level of understanding about their lives. For over 30 years, we’ve built trusted relationships with millions of people who have chosen us as the platform for discovering, preserving and sharing the most important information about themselves and their families.
*Data from a survey conducted by OnePoll on behalf of Ancestry from August 2 to August 12, 2022, with a panel of 2,006 Americans across the general U.S. population.
** Data from a survey conducted by OnePoll on behalf of Ancestry from March 17 to March 22, 2022, with a panel of 2,113 Americans, including 1,911 from top 10 DMAs and 202 from Salt Lake City, UT.
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