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Sunday, August 29, 2010

Genealogy Terms

As I work on my family tree, I find that I tend to make up my own terminology for genealogy.  I use derivatives of the word "tree".  Some of them include "treeing", "tree'd", "tree'r", and to use it in a sentence, "Why did this person tree this way?".   I come across various treeing methods on Ancestry.com and find so many inconsistencies.  I may need to write about family tree etiquette in a post too.  Maybe I'll learn something from it also.  I sometimes get so enthusiastic that I lose sight of my genealogy manners.

Back to the terminology that I'd like to post about......It really cracks me up that several websites want to sell you books about genealogy terms.  I guess that makes sense.  Every subject has specific terms associated with them.  Take insurance for example, it can be its own language if you don't understand the terms.  I have set out to find terminology online, for free.  It's like anything online.  The more you search, the more you find.  I plan to cover some basics in this initial post but may start some "language lesson" posts down the line as I try to advance from being an amateur to an intermediate genealogist.  I think that I'm getting there.

A "First Cousin, Once Removed" is the relationship that my Mom's first cousin has to me.  So those are my simple terms of explaining this terminology.  The technical definition reads something like this:  Individuals who share a common ancestor but not in your immediate family; the child of your first cousin is your first cousin, once removed.  Hey wait a minute; the definition uses the same words as the term to describe it.  I think we all get the picture though.  This is a pretty rudimentary term.

There are other "official" genealogy terms out there like "common ancestor", "direct line", "collateral line" and "relationship chart".  An example of a common ancestor might be my cousins and I share a common ancestor in our grandparents.  A direct line would be someone from whom you descend in a family tree.  Collateral line could be cousins off branches of your family tree.  A relationship chart indicates how relatives are interrelated to one another on the family tree.  I have a copy of one that I will try and post soon.

I also find the word lineage used.  That means line of descent.  There are many other terms out there like pedigree, heritage, DAR (Daughters of the American Revolution), and brick wall.  I find it quite humorous that genealogy sites feel the need to define this term.  "Brick wall suggests a coming to a dead end in one's research".  I find it is more of an immediate screeching halt!

I like terminology because it does give you a footprint or even a path to follow in any subject.  It builds consistency with a common language so that we can communicate clearly with each other.  Maybe those language lesson posts would be a good idea.

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