• Genealogy Glossary

    A B C D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M 
    N O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V W  X  Y  Z 

    A

    Abstract

    abbreviated transcription of a document or record that includes the date of the record, every name appearing therein, the relationship (if stated) of each person named and their description (ie., witness, executor, bondsman, son, widow, etc.), and if they signed with their signature or mark.

    Affidavit

    abbreviated transcription of a document or record that includes the date of the record, every name appearing therein, the relationship (if stated) of each person named and their description (ie., witness, executor, bondsman, son, widow, etc.), and if they signed with their signature or mark.

    Ahnentafel

    Tabulates the ancestry of an individual in text format rather than pedigree chart format.

    ancestors

    A person from who you descend, i.e. your parents, grandparents, etc…

    Ancestral File

    A genealogical system developed by the LDS Church, it links individuals to ancestors in pedigree, family group, and descendant formats.

    B

    Banns

    A public announcement of an intended marriage, usually made in church.

    Baptizavi

    Latin for Baptism

    Birth Records

    A Birth Record contains information about the birth of an individual. On a birth record, you can usually find the mother’s full maiden name and the father’s full name, the name of the baby, the date of the birth, and county where the birth took place.

    Brick wall

    In genealogy, the term brick wall is used to refer to an ancestor whom you cannot find enough information on to continue further back in your ancestry.

    C

    Castle Garden

    The first immigration post for New York, open from 1855-1890

    Census Records

    An official, periodic enumeration of a population. Most censuses are conducted every ten years. Can contain name of Head of household, members of household, their relation to the Head of household, ages, sex and occupations. May also provide information on literacy and whether they rent or own their property.

    Christian Name

    A person’s first name, or the name they are called by, as opposed to their family name or surname. Also called forename, given name.

    Coat of Arms

    A coat of arms is a symbol unique to a person, family, corporation, or state.

    Correspondence Log

    A tracking system used by genealogists to organize the information they have collected from organizations and individuals through letters, email, telephone, mailing lists or query boards.

    D

    Death Records

    A Death Record contains information on the death of a person. Usually recorded are the person’s full name, marital status, date and place of death, date and place of birth, parents’ names and places of birth, and cause of death.

    descendants

    The children, grandchildren, etc… of a person.

    Divorce Records

    Records documenting the dissolution of a marriage. Very uncommon before the 20th century, and illegal in some places. Divorce records can contain information on marriage date and place, their property, children and their birthdates, age of husband and wife, and date of divorce.

    E

    Emigration

    Emigration is the act of leaving one’s home country to go live in a new one.

    F

    Family Group Sheet

    A chart used in genealogy to record a single family group, consisting of husband, wife, and children.

    Family History

    The unique details in your ancestor’s lives; it is their story as told by you, their descendant.

    Filia

    Latin for Daughter

    Filius

    Latin for Son

    Forename

    A person’s first name, or the name they are called by, as opposed to their family name or surname. Also called given name, Christian name

    G

    Gazetteer

    A book which alphabetically names and describes the places in an area.

    GEDCOM

    GEnealogy Data COMmunications, a standardized format for genealogy databases that allows the exchange of data among different software programs and operating systems.

    Genealogy

    The investigative study of family lineage.

    Generation

    The group of people who are of the same genealogical rank or remove from an ancestor. For example, you, your siblings, and your cousins are of the same generation.
    A generation is also defined as the amount of time from the birth of a woman’s first offspring to the birth of her daughter’s first offspring.

    Given name

    A person’s first name, or the name they are called by, as opposed to their family name or surname. Also called forename, Christian name

    H

    Hereditary or Lineage organization

    Membership organization that requires a person to have a proven line of descent to join their membership.

    I

    IGI

    International Genealogical Index. Database of family history records held by The church of Latter-Day Saints (LDS).

    Immigration

    Immigration is the act of moving to a new country to live

    J

    K

    Kirk

    Local church in Scotland

    Kirk session records

    Scottish local church records documenting the administration of the congregation

    L

    Land Records & Deeds

    Land records are documents relating to the purchase and sale of parcels of land. Land grants also fall into this category. You can find the names of the buyer(s)s and seller(s), date of transaction, and sometimes names of adjacent land owners.

    LDS or familysearch.org

    FamilySearch , provided by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (LDS) is the largest genealogy organization in the world. Their website, which provides searchable databases, is familysearch.org.

    Local Research Plan

    A document you design to organize and plan your search into records available to you locally.

    Local Research Plan

    A document you design to organize and plan your search into records available to you locally.

    M

    Marriage Records

    A Marriage Record contains information on the event of a marriage, usually full names of both bride and groom, date and place of marriage, name of officiant, and names of witnesses.

    Maternal

    Relating to your mother’s side of the family.

    Matrimanium

    Latin for Marriage

    Military Records

    Records documenting an individual’s military service. Can include information on name, birth date and location, where enlisted, physical description, where discharged and condition of discharge, military engagements participated in, training completed and awards.

    Mort Cloth

    A shroud or covering positioned over the coffin (or the body if funds were not available for a coffin).

    N

    Name Change records

    Documents that are filed with the court to legal change someone’s name. They will include the person’s name both before and after it was changed, as well as the date it was changed. Sometimes will include the reason for the name change.

    NARA

    (US) National Archives and Records Administration

    National Archives

    Storehouses for records held and preserved by a federal government.

    Naturalization Documents

    Records documenting the naturalization of foreign born individuals. Individuals usually first filed a Declaration of Intent, then later applied for Naturalization. These documents can contain the individual’s name, date and location of birth, date and location of arrival, date of declaration or naturalization, and sometimes include affidavits from other family members or friends.

    O

    Old Parish Registers or Old Parochial Records (OPRs)

    Records kept by individual parishes listing the baptisms, marriages, deaths and sometimes funerals of the individual parishioners within the congregation.

    P

    Paternal

    Relating to your father’s side of the family.

    Patronymic naming system

    The practice of creating last names from one’s father’s first name. For example, Johan’s son Pers would be Pers Johansson.

    Pedigree chart

    A chart used in genealogy to record a person’s lineage usually 4 or 6 generations.

    Primary Source

    Primary sources are records that were created at the time of an event. For example, a birth record is a primary source for a birth date.

    Probate records

    These records communicate the decision of the courts in relation the dispersal of properties connected to your ancestor’s estate after death, and may include documented information in wills, accounts, petitions inventories and decrees

    Public Roup

    The selling off of the deceased’s property for the purpose of paying funeral expenses.

    Q

    Query

    A detailed, concise message posted, usually to a message board or mailing list, requesting information from other researchers who may be researching the same family, or have access to records you do not.

    R

    Repository or Research Log

    A tracking system used by genealogists to record where they have completed research and the outcome of that search. The intent is to keep from duplicating your work.

    S

    Secondary Source

    A secondary source is a record that was created a significant amount of time after an event occurred. For example, a marriage record would be a secondary source for a birth date, because it was created well after the birth. However, it would be a primary source for the marriage date.

    Sexton

    A Sexton is a person charged with the maintenance of a cemetery’s records.

    Sexton Records

    Sexton records document burial locations, names and dates, and often include plot maps for cemeteries. You may also find cause of death, birth date, and information on family members.

    Social Security Death Index

    The Social Security Death Index is a database of vital information for over 64 million people whose deaths were reported to the Social Security Administration.

    SSDI

    The Social Security Death Index is a database of vital information for over 64 million people whose deaths were reported to the Social Security Administration.

    Surname

    Last name or family name.

    T

    Tertiary Source

    A tertiary source is usually third-hand knowledge. Information that was recorded by someone who was not present at the event. For example, if you were to cite a family history that was compiled by someone else, that would be a tertiary source.

    U

    Vital records

    Records that record vital events in a person’s life, such as Birth, Marriage and Death.

    Voter’s lists

    a standard voter registration can include the name, address and age of the registrant, as well as length of residence in the state/province.

    W

    Wake

    A “round-the-clock” watch of the deceased’s body until burial. Done to keep the spirit of the departed safe from the devil until they were buried.

    Will

    A will is a legal declaration by which an individual names an executor (a person to handle his/her estate), provides for the distribution of his/her property and settlement of debts. You can often find names and residences of family members in wills.

    x

    y

    z