13 July 2012

Gen Glossary for Beginners


Abstract: A summary of a record. Example: You have 50 pages of a military pension record. There is important information spread throughout those 50 pages. Rather than type out every word of the record to make it easily legible and accessible you create an abstract. You can then add it to your tree as a note or a story.
Birth Certificate, delayed: Before Social Security started in 1935 it was a rare occasion that required a birth certificate. After 1935, however, it became a necessity. Applying for a certified copy of your own birth certificate required affidavits from two people who would swear you were who you claimed you were. You did not have to apply in the same state you were born in so if copies were not passed down in your family these can be difficult to find. You need to think about when and where they were when they needed one. Example: My great-grandmother (b. 1905, MO) did not have a copy of her birth certificate. She may never have bothered to get her own but she wanted her son (b. 1926, TX), who was mentally challenged, to receive Social Security benefits. She didn't have a copy of his certificate either. She submitted paperwork for both of their certificates at the same time. In Texas. In 1957. Luckily a cousin has copies of both certificates.
Collection: Short for "collection of records". Examples of collection titles: American Civil War Soldiers; Texas Death Index 1903-2000; New Orleans Passenger Lists, 1820-1945. Various collections may be gathered in one place to create a database. 
Database: "A comprehensive collection of related data organized for convenient access, generally on a computer." [Random House Dictionary] For genealogy the largest databases are at Ancestry.com and FamilySearch.org but there are many other databases and many websites that have a collection, or a few collections, that pertain to genealogy in their database.
Extract: A portion of a record transcribed word-for-word.
Index: A list of individual records in a collection. The amount of information can vary from index to index. Example:

                                 Texas Death Index            California Death Index     
 Name                               ✔                                            
 Birth Date/Place             ✘                                            
 Death Date/Place           ✔                                            
 Mother's Maiden             ✘                                             

The amount of information in a record may even vary from record to record in a collection. Both of the indexes above are for the state's death certificates. IF an image is attached it will just be a list of the records not the individual record. An index is created for filing purposes and may not include all information from a record.
Primary Source: Information on a record, or part of a record, that was given by someone with first hand knowledge.
Query - n. a question; an inquiry  [Dictionary.com]
            v. to put a question to; ask  [World English Dictionary]
Question - n. a form of words addressed to a person
                    in order to elicit information or evoke a response  [World English Dictionary]
This may seem obvious to many of you but I can't count the number of times I've seen just a name, just a surname or a request to help "find my family" on a discussion board with no further information. Makes me wonder if that person would request courthouse records by sending a note with just, "I need information on my grandfather" or "John D. Smith." It makes me, and others who would love to help, want to yell:

At the end of the video below Crista Cowen gives tips on writing a message board post. If you're only interested in the part about writing a post go to the 22 minute mark.

Secondary Source: Information on a record, or part of a record, that is given by someone who does not have first hand knowledge. A death certificate is a primary source for information about a person's death but all other information including name, date of birth, parents' names, etc. is secondary information. Yes, you read that correctly. A death certificate is not a primary source for someone's name. The informant on a death certificate could've been a grandchild or a neighbor. They may have called the deceased Papa or C.W.. Did they know his given and middle names were Charles Wheeler? Even someone who knew that fact could've been overcome with grief and may not have remembered a middle name or maiden name at the moment they were filling out the death certificate.
Transcription: A word-for-word copy, typed or handwritten, of a record. Transcriptions and extractions are not as common due to the ability to Xerox or photograph records. There are, however, times when you will not be able to Xerox or photograph an item you need. It's always best to copy it word-for-word so you're not asking yourself later, "Why did I write it that way?" Write it first, interpret it later. Also, be sure to write down the source of the information (i.e. microfilm - number and title; book - title, author, publisher information)
Source: Where the facts on your tree come from. If you search for other trees on Ancestry.com part of the summary shows how many records and how many sources the tree has. On Ancestry.com 'sources' are other trees. Everywhere else sources are records and Ancestry trees are, well, if you've read any of the Tuesday posts on this blog you know what I think of them ;-) Ancestry.com automatically sources all records that you attached from their site which is convenient. You can see the source information in the fine print at the bottom of the indexed record. Here's an example:

Source Citation: Year: 1850; Census Place: Lebanon, Warren, Ohio; Roll: M432_737; Page: 28A; Image: 325.
Source Information:
Ancestry.com. 1850 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2009. Images reproduced by FamilySearch. Original data: Seventh Census of the United States, 1850; (National Archives Microfilm Publication M432, 1009 rolls); Records of the Bureau of the Census, Record Group 29; National Archives, Washington, D.C.

That same source is included if the tree is downloaded. Here's what it looks like in my software:

128. @R-2146978506@, “1850 United States Federal Census,” Ancestry.com, Online publication - Provo, UT, USA: The Generations Network, Inc., 2005. Original data - United States of America, Bureau of the Census. Seventh Census of the United States, 1850. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1850. M432,, 1,8054::0, Ancestry.com, http://www.Ancestry.com. 
Year: 1850; Census 
Place: Lebanon, Warren, Ohio; Roll: M432_737; Page: 28; Image: 321., http://trees.ancestry.com/rd?f=sse&db=1850usfedcenancestry&h=19623955&ti=0&indiv=try&gss=pt, 
Birth date:  abt 1784
Birth place:  Pennsylvania
Residence date:  1850
Residence place:  Lebanon, Warren, Ohio

The goal of sourcing is to make sure anyone, including you, can find the record again if needed. To learn how to source items found on other websites, microfilm, books, etc. check out Evidence Explained by Elizabeth Shown Mills.
Vital Records: Vital is defined as "of or pertaining to life" [Dictionary.com] so vital records are birth, marriage and death records, the basic records for someone's life.


BC: Birth Certificate
BMD: Birth, Marriage and Death
DC: Death Certificate
FHC or FSC: Family History Center or FamilySearch Center. FHCs are branches of the FHL and are located all over the world, usually on the campus of an LDS church.
FHL: Family History Library. This library is Mecca for genealogists. It is a part of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
FNU, NMI, LNU: All of these refer to names. They are abbreviations for the following: First Name Unknown, No Middle Initial, Last Name Unknown
GEDCOM: GEnealogical Data COMmunication. This is a computer file for genealogical data. A GEDCOM file can only be read by genealogical software and is data only meaning no media (photos, stories, etc.) will be included in the file.
LDS: Latter-day Saints, also known as Mormons.
NEHGS: New England Historic Genealogical Society, the first genealogy society in the United States.
NGS: National Genealogical Society
UNK: Unknown

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