Many of the definitions given below are
genealogy-specific, but most of these words have other meanings also. For more
information or to look up additional legal or archaic terms, consult the
Oxford English Dictionary, and Black's Law Dictionary. (Follow the cross-references in
Black's to get the full definition.)
a written summary of the main points in a document.
company: a private firm that maintains and compiles
legal histories of pieces of real estate, called abstracts of title.
the court-appointed person who handles the business of a deceased person's
estate, or the affairs of an incompetent person (female: administratrix).
schedule: a separate part of the federal census,
listing the farmers, with statistical information about their farms and crops;
and associated families: those families who traveled,
attended church, and intermarried with and witnessed legal documents for the
families being researched.
a repository containing primarily the retired official records of public or
the east-west survey line in public domain states.
specific property transferred by a will.
records: vital records written in the family record
pages of a Bible.
land: land received from state or federal government
by a veteran, his family, or an assignee, for military service.
county: a common term for a courthouse whose records
have been lost or destroyed through fire, flood, vermin or neglect.
the counting or listing of inhabitants of a certain region; done by a census
enumerator commonly on a federal or state basis.
court: a court of equity; usually dealing with divorce
or family matters.
of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints: commonly known
as Mormons; interested in family history because of their religious beliefs.
lawsuits: legal cases between two or more private
relatives: people who share an ancestor but do not
descend from one another.
service record: military records that have been
abstracted from various original documents, into one record, and filed
alphabetically by the soldier's name.
source: information abstracted from various original
documents into one record; secondary source.
information: data that comes from different sources
but does not agree; must be evaluated.
court: a local jurisdiction, handling day to day
business of county government.
formation date: the creation date of a new county,
either from other existing counties or from previously unorganized territory.
lawsuit: legal case involving the state against one or
more parties who have broken the law.
notice: a short mention of a person's death,
differentiated from an obituary by its brevity.
a legal document transferring some type of property.
the act of moving from one country to another.
order: the sequence in which census entries were
recorded; house to house.
the property held by a person at the time of his or her death.
facts that indicate whether or not something is true; proof.
the person who is named in a will to handle the affairs of an estate after the
death of the deviser, (female: executrix).
to copy a record, or portions of a record, verbatim from a body of records.
group sheet: page (often a pre-printed form) listing a
family unit: father, mother and children of that union, with the dates and
places of birth, death and burial given for each individual, in addition to
other information and source documentation.
history: the study of the genealogy of one's family
with emphasis on accumulating information on the events and circumstances of
their lives, rather than mere dates, places, and lineage.
History Center: a genealogy library operated by the
LDS Church (Mormons), where any visitor can access the extensive records amassed
by the LDS Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah.
History Library: the repository of the largest
collection of genealogical materials in the world; operated by the LDS Church,
located in Salt Lake City, Utah; open to the public; distributes copies of
microfilmed records to Family History Centers.
Tree Maker: a widely-used genealogy computer program
a note at the bottom of the page citing the source of or additional information
about information appearing on the page; sometimes this same data appears as
endnotes: the notes for the entire article appearing
at the end of that article.
society: an organization of people associated because
of their common interest in the genealogy of the families in an area (county,
state, country) or an ethnic or a family group.
the person appointed by the court to oversee the interests of a minor or
incompetent person; sometimes specified in a will; can be the father or mother
of the minor or incompetent person.
of household: the term used for the person whose name
appears first in the census enumeration of a family or group of people living
together; before 1850, the only peoples' names who appear in the census
an object passed down, generally within the family, from generation to
generation, often of worth only due to sentimental value.
a person designated by a will or by the court to receive the property of the
society: an organization of people associated because
of their common interest in the history of an area (county, state, country).
guard: an organized group of men in a region liable to
call to arms in an emergency.
Act of 1862: law passed by the federal government
setting liberal terms for the acquisition of land by people who agreed to settle
on the land.
the act of moving into one country from another.
schedule: the additional part of the federal census
detailing the business activities of those enumerated within each county; also
called Products of Industry.
loan: one library borrowing, for a patron's use, books
from another library system; genealogical books are often not available through
without a will or a person who dies without a will.
a list of the property held by a person at the time of his death; usually
compiled by several court-appointed people, who submit the list to the court for
person related by marriage or by another legal tie.
military unit: group of armed men informally organized
for a specific purpose not officially recognized by traditional army or
the legal (or traditional) authority to carry out certain activities; political
boundary within which officials have authority.
of the peace (JP): a local elected official with the
authority to witness legal documents, perform marriages, and implement some
areas of local law.
Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints; Mormons.
notice: an advertisement in a newspaper fulfilling the
requirements of the law for notification of other interested parties or the
of Congress: repository located in Washington, DC,
originally created to serve the needs of Congress, now open to the public.
history: the events of the past that impact a certain
area; often includes family histories.
papers: the original legal documents (decrees,
inventories, depositions, receipts, claims, petitions, etc.) usually gathered
into packets as they relate to one person or action, and filed at a courthouse.
name: the surname a woman is given at birth.
collection: an assortment of unpublished related
papers, letters or documents, held by a library or archives, usually unindexed.
in the rectangular system, a north-south survey line.
and bounds: a system of land description that uses
physical objects, frequently trees and rivers, and the property lines of
adjacent landowners to define the boundaries of land; measurements frequently
expressed in poles, a distance of about 5 1/2 yards.
cards made of photographic material containing reduced images of printed
material; used with a special reader that illuminates and enlarges the images.
rolls of photographic material containing reduced images of printed material;
used with a special microfilm reader that illuminates and enlarges the images
and allows the spool of microfilm to be rolled forward and rewound onto the
organized armed forces of an area subject to a call to arms in an emergency.
schedule: an additional part of the federal census
detailing the deaths in each family within the preceding twelve- month period.
a document placing conditions on the sale of property; usually recorded at the
form: a form used when submitting a request for
military, military pension, or bounty land records from the National Archives.
Archives: the United States repository for documents
relating to the history and people of our country.
research: a search of a source that yields no
information, yet reveals information of a sort by the very fact that nothing was
found, and gains importance from the knowledge that the source will not have to
be searched again for the same reason.
those who appear to reside in the same vicinity as the family being researched,
hence may have connections to that family; inferred from their proximity of
enumeration in the census record, their listing together in a tax book,
intermarriage, and various other records.
first name by which one is commonly called, differing from the formal name one
was given at birth.
an announcement of a person's death, giving details which may include
information about the deceased's origins, biographical data, survivors,
religion, and burial information; usually both a primary and secondary source.
county: the county from which another county is or was
formed; the county from whom land was taken to create a new county or part of a
a stipend provided to an elderly or disabled military veteran, or to his widow
or children, upon proof of military service.
a publication produced at regular intervals, such as quarterly or monthly.
Ancestral File (PAF): a widely-used genealogy computer
program; available from the LDS Church.
property: possessions held by a person, which may
include livestock, gold watches, carriages, and slaves; as opposed to real
property, which refers to land.
a document addressed to a government entity, making a request of some sort,
signed by a group of people who agree with the premise of the request.
account: records kept pertaining to the business
activities of a plantation, either narrative or tabular; often included vital
statistics of slaves.
boundary: the borders of a governmental jurisdiction;
lines drawn on paper or maps, as opposed to physical borders.
schedule: the main part of the federal census, listing
the inhabitants (the free inhabitants, before 1870) of an area, with varying
degrees of other personal data.
source: a record containing information recorded at or
about the time of the event, as opposed to compiled or secondary information;
primary sources are generally more reliable than secondary sources.
the legal process by which the property of a deceased intestate individual is
common term for a member of the Society of Friends, a religious group noted for
opposition to war and refusal to swear (they affirm instead) in legal matters.
an advertisement of sorts, requesting an exchange of data with readers who are
interested in the history of the same family.
periodic redrawing of geographic boundaries of districts from which legislative
representatives are elected; a primary purpose of early census enumeration.
survey system: a grid-like system of land division
based on lines surveyed from baselines (east-west lines) and meridians
(north-south lines); in use in public-land states.
soldier: military man serving a prescribed tour of
duty in the standing army, as opposed to volunteer soldiers, those called upon
to serve in an emergency or for a specific purpose.
calendar: a list of sources searched showing surnames
sought and results.
an organized gathering of people descended from a common ancestor, bearing the
same surname, or bound together by some common tie.
War: the American war for independence, 1776 - 1783,
which involved many citizens and created a variety of records helpful to
self-addressed stamped envelope; an envelope provided to another person or
correspondent by a researcher, already addressed back to that researcher and
stamped with first-class postage, for the convenience of the correspondent.
source: record containing information compiled long
after the events discussed; generally not as reliable as a
usually a black, mulatto, or mixed race person, bought and sold as property,
kept in servitude with few individual rights.
schedule: an additional part of the federal census
(1850 and 1860), listing the slave owners name, with a tally, by age, sex, and
color, of the slaves owned by that person; no names of slaves are given.
citation: a note, footnote or endnote, stating where
the information given was derived.
court: a court to which cases with unsatisfactory
results in the eyes of either party was referred for another judgment.
last name; usually the same as the surname of the father.
system: a plan to describe a parcel of real property
(land) so ownership of it can be transferred.
a counting by mark, rather than a listing by name.
record: list of people liable to pay taxes in a given
area, with a list of their property, real and/or personal; usually compiled
annually on a county level.
map: map showing the physical contours of a region of
land; landmarks, churches, schools, roads, and cemeteries are sometimes shown.
soldier: those called upon to serve in the armed
forces in an emergency or for a specific purpose; as opposed to regular soldiers
who are members of the standing armed forces; includes drafted soldiers.
Between the States: also called the Civil War, the War
of the Rebellion, or the War of Northern Aggression; fought from 1861 to 1865,
between the North and the seceded Southern states.
pension: the monthly or annual stipend received by a
woman due to her husband's qualifying service or employment; often refers to a
a legal instrument directing the disposition of a person's estate, the handling
of a person's affairs, and the appointment of an executor for the estate and/or
a guardian for dependents after a person's death.
person who signs his name to (or makes his mark on) a document, attesting to the
correctness of the statements or information in the document or that the
principal's signature is genuine.