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Our U.S. School Yearbooks collection is one of the most entertaining on the site. 
There are lots of famous faces in these yearbooks including this dashing young man, who is of course Brad Pitt.
He may now be one of the most famous men in the world, but here he was a 16 year old student at Kickapoo High School, Missouri in 1981.

Our U.S. School Yearbooks collection is one of the most entertaining on the site. 

There are lots of famous faces in these yearbooks including this dashing young man, who is of course Brad Pitt.

He may now be one of the most famous men in the world, but here he was a 16 year old student at Kickapoo High School, Missouri in 1981.

Emily Davison in the 1911 England Census

Emily Wilding Davison was born in Blackheath, London on 11 October 1872. She grew up to become a militant activist who fought for women’s suffrage in Britain and was jailed 7 times. 

Here she is on the 1911 England Census, boarding with 50 year old Charlotte Batimon. Emily was aged 38, single and lists her occupation as “Political Secretary”.


On 4 June 1913, Emily stepped out in front of King George V’s horse at the Epsom Derby and sadly died a few days later.

There have been claims that Emily did not intend to commit suicide, that she was trying to disturb the Derby in order to draw attention to her cause. We’ll never know.

F Scott Fitzgerald spotted in 1920 Census

Great Gatsby author Francis Scott Key Fitzgerald was born on 24 September 1896 in Minnesota.

Here he is on the 1920 U.S. Census, aged 23, living with his parents Mary and Edward, sister Annabelle and servant Margaret.

His occupation in 1920? Author and writer. His first novel, This Side of Paradise was published a short time later in March 1920.

In the same year, Fitzgerald married novelist Zelda Sayre and their daughter Frances was born in October 1921. He went on to write 3 other novels including his most famous, The Great Gatsby.

F Scott Fitzgerald died on 21 December 1940. He is buried with wife Zelda in Maryland, the gravestone inscribed with the final sentence of The Great Gatsby - “So we beat on boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the wind”.

Elvis Presley

Happy birthday to Elvis Presley, born on this day, 8 January, in 1935 in Tupelo, Mississippi. Here he is on the 1940 US Census with parents Vernon Elvis and Gladys Love, aged 5.

Elvis went on to become one of the most popular musicians of the 20th century.

He married Pricilla Ann Beaulieu in Nevada in 1967 and had daughter Lisa Marie in 1968.They divorced in 1972, shown below in the California Divorce Index, 1966-1984.

Elvis died in 1977, aged 42.

Real James Bond Uncovered

Sidney Reilly, the secret agent widely believed to be the inspiration for Ian Fleming’s legendary character James Bond, has been uncovered in one of our collections.

The record (shown above) was found in the British Army WWI Medal Rolls Index Cards, 1914-1920 collection, which details the medal entitlement of more than 4.8 million WWI soldiers. It reveals that Reilly’s Military Cross was issued for service in the Royal Flying Corps.

Sidney Reilly, known as the ‘Ace of Spies’, was an agent for Scotland Yard’s Special Branch who in 1918 joined Sir Mansfield Smith-Cumming, the first director of the Secret Intelligence Service (SIS), as an operative for MI1 (a predecessor to MI6). His friend Sir Robert Bruce Lockhart knew Ian Fleming for many years and told him of Reilly’s espionage exploits. Later Fleming allegedly mentioned to a colleague at The Sunday Times that he had created Bond after hearing about Reilly.

In typical secret-agent fashion, much of Reilly’s life is shrouded in mystery. It is alleged that he worked undercover and stole revolutionary aircraft engine parts and weapon plans from the Germans before the First World War even began.  He was then dispatched on counter-Bolshevik operations in Germany and Russia during the conflict itself.

Reilly’s medal was awarded for his “distinguished services rendered in connection with military operations in the field”, which are said to have included parachuting behind enemy lines and disguising himself as a German officer in order to obtain undercover information.

His record is one of thousands of medal cards online, revealing the medals awarded to each First World War soldier. In addition, more than 50,000 of these cards also list details of covert operations undertaken or letters from next of kin on their reverse side, meaning thousands of people today can track down find the spy in their own family.’s researchers have also found another interesting James Bond-related fact; Daniel Craig is actually the half 19th cousin of Queen Elizabeth II, his on-screen partner in crime during the acclaimed opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games.

Brad Argent, Content Director for Australia and New Zealand, comments: “James Bond himself would have been proud of this discovery – uncovering the ‘real’ James Bond among the millions of World War I records online.  The information contained on thousands of the medal cards available at Ancestry can help anyone find the ‘Bond’ in their own family tree.”

Queen Victoria in the 1841 England Census


Census records are a wonderful resource for family historians and help you discover details like the names, ages, birthplaces, occupations and relationships of your ancestors.

Even Queen Victoria herself was included in the 1841 England Census along with Prince Albert at Buckingham Palace (record shown above). Also present in the Palace on the night of Sunday, June 6th 1841 are the Earl of Aboyne whose occupation is listed as “Lord in Waiting”, a number of Queen’s messengers, valets and footmen.

Uncover the different generations of your family in census records from England, Wales, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man, covering every decade from 1841-1912. Start searching.

Happy Birthday Ernest Hemingway

Ernest Miller Hemingway was born on this day, 21 July in 1899 in Chicago, USA, to Clarence Edmond and Grace Hall Hemingway.

After high school, Hemingway left for the Italian front, enlisting with the World War 1 ambulance drivers. In 1918, he was seriously wounded and returned home. He is shown in the 1920 US Census above, with his occupation was listed as “none”.

Hemingway went on to marry 4 times, published 7 novels and won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1954. He died in July 1961, aged 61.

Matthew Flinders

Captain Matthew Flinders died on this day, 19th July, in 1814.

Born in England in 1774, Flinders was the first explorer to circumnavigate Australia and identify it as a continent.

He is shown above in the NSW, Colonial Secretary’s Papers in 1798 on a list of grants and leases of land registered in the Colonial Secretary’s Office.

On his return to England in 1803, Flinders was held captive in Mauritius for 6 years. It was during this time that he started his famous book and atlas, A Voyage to Terra Australis.

There are numerous places in Australia that have been named after Matthew Flinders – the most famous being Flinders Island in Bass Strait. 

Ben Chifely

On this day, 13th July, in 1945, Ben Chifley became the 16th Australian Prime Minister.

Joseph Benedict Chifley was born on 22 September 1885 in Bathurst, NSW. He was an engine driver for many years before becoming Prime Minister after the death of John Curtin in 1945.

He is shown above in a 1930 Australian Electoral Roll with his wife Elizabeth.

Ben Chifley was Prime Minister until December 1949 and died in June 1951, aged 65.

Happy Birthday George Orwell

Eric Arthur Blair, better known by his pen name George Orwell, was born on this day, 25 June in 1903 in India. 

He moved to England at the age of one and is shown below on the 1911 England and Wales Census, aged 7, with his mother  Ida, sister Avril and 2 servants.

Eric Blair went on to become a renowned author and journalist, best known for his novels Nineteen Eighty-Four and Animal Farm, which together sold more copies than any two books by any other 20th century author.

He died in January 1950, aged 46.