The Atlantic

Why a Large Number of Americans Don’t Know All Their Grandparents’ First Names

An attempt to make sense of an at-first baffling statistic
Source: Tom Stoddart Archive / Getty

One-third of Americans aren’t able to name all of their grandparents, according to the genealogy website Ancestry.com. That proportion seems very, very high—it represents more than 100 million people. Can that estimate really be right?

Ancestry filled in some details when I inquired. The figure comes from a survey the company recently commissioned that polled 2,000 American adults who were “statistically representative” of the

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