When you enter the world of genealogy research, it is extremely common to come across terms that may be unfamiliar to you. Understanding these various terms can help to simplify your research process and make it slightly less confusing. At Heritage Consulting, our expert team has a substantial amount of knowledge regarding these terms. When you don’t understand a genealogy term, it can substantially disrupt your research. Talk to our experts for more guidance regarding common genealogy terms. Genealogy research can be confusing. Sometimes it can be difficult to read old handwriting, while other times you may come across terms that you don’t fully understand. Here are a few common genealogy terms that are important to understand.
Though this may seem like an obvious one, ancestor is a very commonly used genealogy term. Essentially, an ancestor is a person that you are descended from. For example, your grandmother is one of your ancestors. In addition, your grandmother’s grandfather is an ancestor and so on.
Archives can mean one of two things. It refers to the records that are kept by an institution, government, or organization. It can also refer to the specific location where these records are stored. Archives can be a valuable resource when it comes to completing your genealogy research, so it is extremely common to come across this term.
A census is generally how a particular country determines how many citizens they have at particular point. This is the term for the official counting of the citizens. You are likely to come across this during your genealogy research, so it can be useful to understand what the term “census” is referring to.
The term common ancestor essentially states a tie between two people. When you hear the term “common ancestor”, it is referring to a single ancestor that is shared by 2 different people. For example, you and your siblings share many common ancestors. Distant cousins may only share a few or one common ancestor with you.
The term emigrant generally refers to a person, depending on their specific actions. An emigrant is a person who is leaving or has left their previous country while moving to another.
The term “estate” refers to the belongings of a person. It is important to keep in mind that estate also refers to debts that may belong to that person. It is generally used to include all of the various debts, in addition to the property that is owned by the individual.
Though it is much more common to hear the term “fraternity” in relation to college shenanigans, it is also a common genealogy term. When used in a genealogy context, fraternity actually refers to a group of people that are connected through a common interest that they share.
The term “given name” often differentiates between an individual’s original name and any name changes throughout their life, such as a married name. The given name is the name that was originally given to someone either at their baptism or their birth.
While this is a term that is less commonly used nowadays, you may still run across it while doing your genealogy research. Referring to an individual as “illegitimate” means that they were born to a mother who was not at that time married to the father of the child. In the past, this may have meant that they didn’t have a “legitimate” claim to their paternal line and may have not been able to inherit anything from their father’s estate.
Lineage is a term that describes a line of ancestors. The idea of lineage is the tracing of a direct line from a particular ancestor. For example, some people can trace their lineage to famous people in history.
Many people have heard the term “maiden name” before. This term refers to the last name of a woman before she was married. This term became necessary due to the tradition of women taking on their husband’s name after marriage. That tradition can make it difficult to trace your ancestry, which is why it is important to know the maiden name of your ancestors.
Nee is a term that is used to identify a maiden name on various documents. For example, a woman whose maiden name was Lee may have her name transcribed as Ashley Smith nee Lee to indicate that Lee was her maiden name and Smith was her married name.
When something is referred to as “maternal”, it essentially means that it is related to the mother’s line. So your maternal grandmother, for example, is the mother of your mother. Your maternal grandmother is the father of your mother. This helps to differentiate between ancestral lines that you are following.
Paternal is very similar to maternal, but it relates to the father’s line. A paternal grandmother is the mother of your father and so on.
Spouse is a term that refers to the partner of an individual. It may indicate either the husband or wife of an individual. Spouses are often included in obituaries and other potential documentation, so it is extremely common to come across the term “spouse” when doing genealogy research.
Vital records are essentially documents that record important aspects of someone’s life. These records serve to document their dates of birth, marriage aspects, divorce proceedings, and the dates of death.
Vital statistics are essentially the information that is contained in the vital records, rather than the actual documents themselves. This data revolves around the same things as vital records, such as data about their marriage, death, birth, and divorce.
Understanding these common genealogy terms can go a long way toward simplifying your research process. Our experts at Heritage Consulting can help to provide you with further insight into terms that you might find confusing. To learn more about the benefits that you can obtain from working with a professional genealogist, contact us at Heritage Consulting today!