Glossary of Genealogy Terms

genealogyPro Glossary of Genealogy Terms
professional genealogists

Australasian Association of Genealogists and Record Agents, P.O. Box 268, Oakleigh, Victoria 3166, Australia. An association offering certification of Australian and New Zealand genealogists and record agents.

Management and settlement of an estate

An appointee of the court who settles the estate of a deceased person who died without leaving a will

Associate Australian Library & Information Association

A summary of a particular record or document; usually contains only the most important information from the original document; may be used instead of original documents in genealogical research

The International Commission for the Accreditation of Professional Genealogists, internationally recognized as ICAPGenSM, administers the Accreditation Program. The Accreditation Program was established in 1964 by the Genealogical Department of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. In 2000, the administration and ownership was transferred to ICAPGen. The Accreditation Program has been serving the public for over forty years. We invite you to visit our website,, to learn more about the program, and we would appreciate it if you would link the AG and Accredited Genealogist designations to our website.

Please note that there are two certification marks, AG and Accredited Genealogist, for one credential. At no time should the AG be used as an acronym for Accredited Genealogist. The AG is officially registered, and the registration is pending for Accredited Genealogist. The following information best represents the credential and organization:

AG®: The designation given to a genealogist who was competency tested and credentialed by the International Commission for the Accreditation of Professional Genealogists, internationally recognized as ICAPGenSM.

Accredited GenealogistCM: The designation given to a genealogist who was competency tested and credentialed by the International Commission for the Accreditation of Professional Genealogists, internationally recognized as ICAPGenSM.

ICAPGenSM: The service mark of the International Commission for the Accreditation of Professional Genealogists, a professional credentialing organization. Genealogists are competency tested and credentialed to use the postnomials AG® or Accredited GenealogistCM following their names.

A numbering system used to identify each individual in a family tree. The formula states that an individual's father is twice that individual's number, and that an individual's mother is twice that individual's number plus one. If your Ahnentafel number is 1, your father's is 2, and your mother's is 3. From the German Ahnen meaning ancestor, and Tafel, table or list.

Any person from whom one is descended, especially one earlier in a family line than a grandparent; forefather; forebear

1. Family descent or lineage 2. Ancestors collectively

Of or inherited from an ancestor or ancestors

Ancestral File:
A computerized file of individual and family records, created from records and pedigree charts submitted to the Family History Department of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints since 1979. The purpose of the Ancestral File is to help people coordinate their research.

Association of Genealogists and Record Agents, Hon. Secretary, 31 Alexandra Grove, London N12 8HE, England. A formal genealogical body recognizing professional genealogists with extensive experience and who are recommended by their peers.

1. One bound by indenture to serve another for a prescribed period with a view to learning an art or trade. 2. One who is learning by practical experience under skilled workers a trade, art, or calling

Association of Professional Genealogists, P.O. Box 40393, Denver, CO 80204-0393, USA. APG members promote genealogy as a profession and encourage professionalism in genealogy. They also conduct research or serve in related fields such as librarians, archivists, writers, editors, consultants, indexers, instructors, lecturers, booksellers, publishers, computer specialists and geneticists.


Association of Professional Genealogists in Ireland:
c/o The Genealogical Office, 2 Kildare Street, Dublin 2, Ireland. A formal body recognizing the credentials of professional genealogists in Ireland.

Association of Scottish Genealogists and Researchers in Archives:
35 Pittville Street, Edinburgh, EH15 2BX. A formal body recognizing the credentials of professional genealogists in Ireland.

See marriage banns

The ceremony or sacrament of admitting a person into Christianity or a specific Christian church by dipping the person in water or pouring or sprinkling water on them;

baptismal certificate:
A formal document normally kept by a church of baptisms that occurred in their congregation. It typically contains the names of the individuals baptized, the date of baptism, where it took place, the clergyman's name, and possibly the names of sponsors and place of residence.

See illegitimate

See illegitimate

The person designated to receive the income of a trust estate.

Legacy; usually a gift of real estate by will

The history of an person's life

The author of a biography

birth certificate:
A formal document normally issued by a government body responsible for the registration of vital statistics within a particular jurisdiction

Board for Certification of Genealogists, P.O. Box 14291, Washington, DC 20044 (USA and international). Genealogists certified by the BCG must renew their certification every five years, through a renewal examination process.

A contract to carry out specific duties, which if not performed satisfactorily, a penalty may be paid

bounty land:
Land given to military servicemen as payment for their services

burial record:
A formal account normally kept by a church of burials that occurred in their congregation. Besides the names of the deceased, it may contain the age of the person at death, their birth date, cause of death, the clergyman's name, and possibly the place of residence at the time of death.

A public record, survey or map for tax purposes showing ownership and value of land

Certified American Indian Lineage Specialist, BCG credential

Certified American Lineage Specialist, BCG credential

canon law:
Church law

cemetery record:
an account of the names and death dates of those buried within a cemetery

census record:
A government sponsored enumeration of the population in a particular area; contains a variety of information from names heads of household or all household members, their ages, citizenship status, and ethnic background etc.

Chambre Syndicale des Généalogistes - Héraldistes de France:
74, rue des Saints-Pères, 75005 Paris, France. The genealogical body providing certification for professional genealogists in France.

Christian ceremony of baptizing and giving a name to an infant. See also baptism

Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints:
A major Christian religion founded in 1830 by Joseph Smith, the Mormons. In 1894 it founded the Family History Library to gather records which help people trace their ancestry. The Library has grown to acquire the world's largest collection of genealogical information. The Library is located at 35 North West Temple Street, Salt Lake City, Utah 84150 (Telephone: 801-240-2331). You do not need to visit the Library to utilize its resources. Most of the library's films and microfiche can be loaned for use at one of their Family History Centers, located in many cities around the world. The key library resources include FamilySearch®, Family History Library Catalog®, the International Genealogical Index (IGI), Ancestral File, Family Registry, and Personal Ancestral File® (PAF). Many of the resources of the church are available at the Family History Centres without charge.

church record:
See baptismal record, marriage record, and burial record

Certified Genealogist, BCG credential

Certified Genealogist (Canada). See also Genealogical Institute of the Maritimes

Certified Genealogical Instructor, BCG credential

Certified Genealogical Lecturer, BCG credential

Certified Genealogical Record Specialist, BCG credential

personal property, both animate and inanimate

A Celtic group esp. in the Scottish Highlands comprising a number of households whose heads claim descent from a common ancestor

An addition to a will to change, explain, revoke or add provisions which overrule the provisions in the original will

collateral ancestor
An ancestor not in the direct line of ascent, but of the same ancestral family

collateral families
The families with whom your ancestors intermarried and moved.

Of or relating to the married state; conjugal

A close relation, kinship

An instrument by which title to property is conveyed

coroners inquest:
A legal inquiry, or inquest by a coroner, to determine the cause of a sudden or violent death.

1. The son or daughter of ones uncle or aunt 2. A collateral relative more distant than a brother or sister, but descended from a common ancestor

The wife of a person's son

A signed and usually sealed instrument containing some legal transfer, bargain, or contract.

A person who is an offspring, however remote, of a certain ancestor or family

Lineage, ancestry

A book listing the names, addresses, occupations etc., of a specific group of people; types include - city, telephone, county, regional, professional, religious, post office, street, ethnic, and school

Domesday Book :
Sometimes called just Domesday, it is a written record of a survey of England ordered by William the Conqueror in 1066. William was an attempting to register the landed wealth of the country in a systematic fashion and to determine the revenues due him. The survey was executed by groups of officers called legati, who visited each county and conducted a public inquiry. The set of questions that these officers asked of the town and county representatives constituted the Inquisitio Eliensis; the answers supplied the information from which the Domesday Book was compiled. Domesday is a corruption of Doomsday (the day of the final judgment); the work was so named because its judgments in terms of levies and assessments were irrevocable. The original manuscript was made in two volumes. The first and larger one, sometimes called the Great Domesday, included information on all England, with the exception of three eastern counties (Essex, Suffolk, and Norfolk), several northern counties, London, and some other towns. The surveys of the three eastern counties made up the second volume, which was known as the Little Domesday. These documents were frequently used in the medieval law courts, and in their published form they are occasionally used today in cases involving questions of topography or genealogy.

double date:
A double date appears on some documents as a result of two changes introduced by the adoption of the Gregorian calendar, introduced by Pope Gregory XIII in 1582 to resolve the error caused by the Julian calendar in use up to that time. Scientists resolved that a year was slightly longer than the 365 ¼ specified by the Julian calendar, which resulted in the loss of 10 days. The new calendar also changed the first day of the year from March 25th on the Julian calendar to January 1st. Different countries adopted the new calendar at different times and the practice of providing a double date was common. The British Commonwealth and the United States adopted the new calendar in 1752. By this time, the calendar was behind by 11 days. So, the day following September 2, 1752 was decreed to be September 14, 1752..

The portion of an estate that a widow is entitled to upon the death of her husband.

The process of leaving one's home country to live in another country

Process by which persons are counted for purposes of a census

census taker

The individual who carries out the instructions and provisions of a will

Family History Library:
35 North West Temple Street, Salt Lake City, UT 84150:

family group report:
A form which contains genealogical information about a nuclear family - a husband, a wife, and their children. It usually includes the dates and places of birth, marriage and death.

family tree:
A genealogical diagram

An alphabetically organized book describing the names and places of a particular region.

A standard file format for exchanging information between genealogy programs. The acronym GEDCOM stands for GEnealogical Data COMmunications. The Family History Department of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) developed the GEDCOM standard.

Genealogical Institute of the Maritimes:
Université de Moncton, Moncton, New Brunswick E1A 3E9, Canada. An official body providing accreditation of professional genealogists in Canada.

1. The science or study of family descent 2. A chart or recorded history of the descent of a person or family from an ancestor or ancestors 3. Descent from an ancestor; pedigree; lineage

A person who pursues the science or study of family descent. A professional genealogist is one who compiles family histories and genealogies for clients for a fee.

A person who buys or receives land

A person who sells or gives the land

Genealogical Research Institute of New Zealand, P.O. Box 36-107 Moera, Lower Hutt 6330, New Zealand. A formal genealogical association with a screening process and code of ethics for professional genealogists.

Genealogical Record Searcher (Canada). See also Genealogical Institute of the Maritimes

A married man; a man in his relationship with his spouse

(Latin), Iesus Hominum Salvator, Jesus saviour of men

A contract binding one person to work for another for a given period of time

1. Having made no valid will. 2. Not disposed of by will. 3. When an owner of real property has died intestate, title to the property is said to pass by descent to the heirs. See also testate

Born of parents not married to each other

See Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Direct descent from an ancestor

marriage banns:
A religious tradition by which engaged couples had to announce their intention to marry. This announcement allowed anyone in the congregation to voice their protest. The marriage banns normally took place a few weeks before the actual marriage date. In many churches, they banns were read aloud on three successive Sundays.

marriage record:
A formal document normally kept by a church of marriages conducted within their congregation. Besides the names of the individuals being married, it may also contain their ages, occupation and residence, the clergyman's name, and possibly the names of sponsors.

Born, usually refers to a woman's maiden name

nuclear family:
A family group that consists only of father, mother, and children

Ontario Genealogical Society

Personal Ancestral File®. A widely used, DOS-based genealogy program created by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

1. A list of ancestors; record of ancestry; family tree 2. Descent; lineage; ancestry 3. A recorded or known line of descent

pedigree chart:
A report showing an individual along with parents, grandparents, great-grandparents, etc. for a specified number of generations.

A book containing a list of peers with their genealogy, history, and titles

1. Born after the death of the father 2. Published after the death of the author 3. Following or occurring after death

primary record:
A record created at the time of the event (birth, marriage, death, etc.) as opposed to records written years later

ancestor, forefather

1. The state of being the firstborn of the children of the same parents 2. An exclusive right of inheritance belonging to the eldest son

1. e action or process of proving in a court of law that a document offered for official recognition and registration as the last will and testament of a deceased person is genuine. 2. The officially authenticated copy of a probated will

Descendants, children

An ancestor in the direct line, forefather

The science or study of the origin and forms of proper names of persons or places

record agent:
A person specializing in the knowledge of records and sources.

An immigrant to the United States in the 18th and 19th centuries who obtained passage by becoming an indentured servant

reference order report:


secondary record
A record created some time after the event

sepulchre (sepulcher):
A place of burial, tomb

see sine prole

A brother or sister

sine prole:
without offspring, sometimes seen as D.S.P. - died sine prole

Society of Australian Genealogists:
Richmond Villa, 120 Kent Street, Sydney, New South Wales 2000, Australia. A formal genealogical body offering courses and examinations leading to a Diploma in Family Historical Studies (Dip. F.H.S.)

A filing system, usually for recording surnames, using one letter followed by three numbers. The Soundex system keeps together names of the same and/or similar sounds, but of variant spellings.

A person who presents a candidate for baptism or confirmation and undertakes responsibility for the person's religious education or spiritual welfare

A partner in marriage; one's husband or wife

A person's stepparent's son by a former marriage

The child of a person's spouse by a previous marriage; stepdaughter or stepson

A person's stepparent's daughter by a former marriage

The person who has married one's parent after the death or divorce of the other parent's stepmother or stepfather

The act by which a person determines the disposition of his or her property after death

Adjective, having left a valid will. When he has died testate, or leaving a will that has been probated, the property passes by devise to the person or persons so designated in the will.

A person who dies leaving a will or testament in force

A tenth part of something paid as a voluntary contribution or as a tax especially for the support of a religious establishment

A natural or legal person to whom property is legally committed to be administered for the benefit of a beneficiary.

A woman whose husband has died; particularly such a woman who has not yet remarried

A man whose wife has died; particularly such a man who has not yet remarried

A married woman; a woman in her relationship with her spouse

A legal statement of a person's wishes concerning the disposal of his or her property after death

An individual present at an event such as a marriage or the signing of a document who can vouch that the event took place

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