SURVEY: Most Americans Can't Name All 4 of Their Grandparents

More than half of Americans don’t know the names of all four of their grandparents.

A recent survey of 2,113 U.S. adults, including 1,911 from the top 10 Nielsen market areas and 202 from Salt Lake City, found that there is a massive knowledge gap when it comes to recent family history. Knowledge of past generations varied by city, as 66 percent of Boston residents could name all of their grandparents, compared to only 26 percent of those in Philadelphia. San Francisco residents weren’t much better at 34 percent, while people in Chicago and Dallas only slightly higher at 36 percent.

As a whole, just 47 percent of respondents could correctly name all four grandparents.

The apple falls a bit far from the family tree

Conducted by OnePoll on behalf of Ancestry, the survey also reveals that only four percent could name all eight of their great-grandparents. When it comes to knowing the most about their family history, three in four people in Salt Lake City say they feel knowledgeable compared to 46 percent of those in Philadelphia.

Despite the knowledge gap, most respondents expressed interest in learning more about their family history (66%). In particular, over half the poll (51%) want to know stories about when their ancestors were young and what their were like at the time.

Most people claim to know the bulk of their family history from parents (43%) or grandparents (40%) relaying stories.

“Listening to family stories is a great starting point to learn about your family’s past, but some details can get lost as they are passed down for generations,” says Crista Cowan, Corporate Genealogist at Ancestry, in a statement. “Digging deeper into records, such as census records, can help fill in the gaps and add rich historical context about more recent family history.”


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