August 26, 2009 08:00 ET Reveals That American Baby Names Are All in the Family

National Study Finds That Nearly Half of All Americans Were Named After a Family Member

PROVO, UT--(Marketwire - August 26, 2009) - It turns out the trend of keeping baby names 'all in the family' may be more popular than it seems, according to a new national survey conducted on behalf of These days, parents across the country are looking to their family tree for inspiration when choosing their baby's name. In fact, nearly half of all Americans were named after a family member, the world's largest online resource for family history revealed.(1)

Out of the 49 percent of Americans bearing the name of an ancestor, approximately one-third were named after their father, around 17 percent were named for their grandfather, and an estimated 15 percent were named for their grandmother. More men than women were named after a family member; in fact, 20 percent of men were given both their first and middle name after a family member, according to the survey.

"We found that looking to the family tree for inspiration in choosing a baby name isn't just a thing of the past," said Anastasia Tyler, a family history expert at "The fact is that Americans across the country truly cherish the names that have been in their family through the generations, and the tradition of honoring a family member by passing down a name remains alive."

The Apple Doesn't Fall Far from the Family Tree

When it comes to choosing the name of the newest addition to the family, Americans strongly believe in looking to the branches of their family tree. found that 57 percent of parents named a child after a family member. Nearly 20 percent of those parents who chose a family name did so because it was a name that had been passed down in the family through generations.

Family Patterns

Through its research,'s team of family history experts uncovered a number of naming patterns frequently adopted by families when naming children, and turned to some of America's most famous celebrities and political figures to find a few examples.

Last Names as First Names

-- Reese Witherspoon, born Laura Jean Reese Witherspoon, was given the name Reese after the last name of her mother's ancestors. Her grandfather, Emmett Reese, and his parents B.J. and Elizabeth Reese, are listed in the 1920 Census, found on

I am Henry the Eighth I am

-- Tom Cruise, or Thomas Cruise Mapother IV, comes from a long line of Thomases as witnessed in the 1930 Census, which shows his great-grandfather Thomas C. Mapother Sr. working as a lawyer in a circuit court.

Mixing it Up: A French Spin on a Family Name

-- Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt looked to their family trees for inspiration when naming their twins Knox Leon and Vivienne Marcheline. Marcheline is actually the French-sounding name of Angelina's late mother.

Sons to Daughters; Daughters to Sons

-- Pres. Barack Obama's mother, Stanley Ann Dunham, was named after her father Stanley Armour Dunham, who received his middle name from his mother, Barack's great-grandmother, Ruth Armour.

To find out more about the origin of your name, or for inspiration in choosing the name of the newest member to your family, visit

(1) Survey of 1,000 people conducted 05-07-2009 by MarketTools. Margin of error +/- 4%.

About is the world's largest online resource for family history. has digitized, indexed and put online billions of records over the past 12 years. Ancestry users have created over 11 million family trees containing over one billion profiles. has collections from the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia and Canada, as well as Germany, France, Italy, Sweden and China. provides additional family history resources including Family Tree Maker, DNA, Expert Connect,,, and others. For more information on and its other family history resources, visit

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