Genealogy Dictionary


There are many terms associated with genealogy, some of which are very basic and some that are a little more in depth. For beginners and those new to the world of family histories, understanding these terms can sometimes be a little tricky. By learning some of the more basic terms from the genealogy dictionary, it will be easier to do research and understand what everything means.

For example, a researcher may come across the word administration or administrator when doing a family project. These two terms refer to an estate that’s left behind after an individual dies. The administrator is a person chosen to manage the estate and the administration is what is actually done with the estate. These terms are usually only used when the deceased person doesn’t leave behind a will.

Researchers may also run across the genealogy term abstract. An abstract is essentially a stripped down version of an actual document. These are sometimes used when an individual needs only basic information and not everything compiled in the original paper. A good example is using an abstract of court testimony to get an individual’s occupation, age, and address.

Researchers also have to be aware of the words baptism and baptismal certificate. Baptisms are held by the Christian church, usually during childhood. Churches keep records of these known as the baptismal certificate. The certificate usually includes information on the person, the clergy, and any witnesses present, as well as the date and location of the event. Birth certificates and death records are another important genealogy term because these show the person's name, time of birth, date of birth, and parent's names. These are usually held by the county where the birth took place.

Users may also run across a burial record. These are usually held by the church, if there was a church associated with the burial. The record includes the date of death, age of deceased, place where the death occurred, cause of death, and other useful information. In some cases these are also known as cemetery records.

Researchers also use census records as a source of information. The census is held by the government every few years and the public has access to those records. This lists information on the head of the household and anyone else living in the house. They also look at deeds to see when property or land was bought, sold, or transferred to another individual. They deal with words like illegitimate or bastard as well, which refer to a child not born of wedlock.

In some cases genealogists will run across the term marriage banns. These were announcements a couple had to make to the community prior to their formal engagement. Others in the community could speak out before the marriage ceremony. They also deal with marriage records, which show the names, birthdates, and place of the marriage. Another frequently used word is nee, which is used to denote a woman’s name prior to the wedding.

There may not be enough room here to list the many genealogical terms used around the world, but there are a few genealogy dictionaries and glossaries that can be helpful. A few good websites include Glossary of Genealogy Terms, Genealogy Glossary, and Genealogy Terms.

A few good places to look when just starting out include Genealogy.org The Genealogy Home Page, and Glossary of Last Name Meanings and Origins.

Beginners will also need some help in the early stages and there are many websites devoted to these individuals. 26 Tips to Get You Started includes helpful suggestions to get started on a family tree. Awesome Genealogical Tips covers some more advanced ideas, as well as information on doing international searches.

Those who are worried about doing something wrong should check out Top 10 Genealogy Mistakes to Avoid. There’s also Getting Started in Genealogy, Genealogy Tips and Guidelines, Genealogy for Beginners, and How to Start Your Family History.