A recent survey has found that half (50%) of Americans know more about families from their favourite TV shows than their own family tree.

This survey was conducted by the family history site, Ancestry, which also revealed that more than half (53%) can’t name all four of their grandparents.

While Americans spend countless hours captivated by their favourite shows, in reality, people’s own family stories are often just as compelling as the fictional ones they love and follow.

To put it to the test, Ancestry asked actress Sarah Hyland (Modern Family) to discuss her personal knowledge on 2 Lies and a Lead (a celebrity-driven game show for Ancestry where contestants discover surprises from their family histories) of her family history and how that rivals her extensive knowledge of her fictional TV family.

The show concluded with Sarah discovering her own family stories are equally as compelling as her fictional ones. Sarah is now encouraging everyone to find and share their own. Sarah commented:

Over the years, millions of people fell in love with Modern Family’s characters, comedy, conflict and plot twists. 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.

Sarah Hyland, actress

While many Americans know more about fictional TV families, three-fourths (75%) are interested in learning more about their own family history. Some of the things Sarah discovered include:

  • Sarah learned her second great-granduncle travelled 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 rumoured to be haunted after a mysterious death.
  • 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.
  • Using the Ancestry photo colourization tool, Sarah was able to colourize 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.

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