Glossary

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Contents

A

abstract

abbreviated transcription of a document or record that includes the date of the record, every name appearing therein, the relationship (if stated) of each person named and their description (ie., witness, executor, bondsman, son, widow, etc.), and if they signed with their signature or mark.

ad litem

legal term meaning in this case only. For example, “George Thomas, duly appointed by the court, may administer ad litem the settlement of the estate of Joseph Thomas, deceased.”

adm.

(abbreviation) administrator, administration.

admin.

(abbreviation) administrator, administration.

admon.

(abbreviation) letters of administration.

administration

a court action used to settle the estate of a person who died without leaving a will, or a person who left a will that the court disallowed, or where the executor appointed by the deceased refuses to serve in that capacity.

affidavit

a written or oral statement made under oath.

ahnentafel

ancestor table, tabulates the ancestry of one individual by generation in text rather than pedigree chart format. A comprehensive ahnentafel gives more than the individual’s name, date and place of birth, christening, marriage, death and burial. It should give biographical and historical commentary for each person listed, as well as footnotes citing the source documents used to prove what is stated.

ahnentafel Number

the unique number assigned to each position in an ancestor table is called an ahnentafel number. Number one designates the person in the first generation. Numbers two and three designate the parents of number one and the second generation. Numbers four through seven designate the grandparents of person number one and the third generation. As the ahnentafel extends by generation, the number of persons doubles.

a.k.a.

also known as; alias.

alien

a citizen of another country.

ancestor

a person from whom you descend; grandparents, great-grandparents, 2nd great-grandparents (also called great great- grandparents), 3rd great-grandparents, etc. Direct-line ancestor; forefather; forebear.

Ancestral File

a genealogical system developed ty the Family History Department of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church), links individuals to ancestors in pedigree, family group, and descendant formats. It contains genealogical information about millions of people from many nations.

ancestry

denotes all of your ancestors from your parents as far back as they are traceable. Estimates suggest that everyone has approximately 65,000 traceable ancestors, meaning ancestors whose existence can be documented in surviving records.

anon.

(abbreviation) anonymous.

annotation

interpretation, explanation, clarification, definition, or supplement. Many types of genealogical presentations contain statements, record sources, documents, conclusions, or other historical information that require an annotation. Generally, annotations appear in footnotes, end-notes, or in the text itself. Genealogical software provides a field for documentation, comments, notes, and analysis. Genealogists use annotations to explain discrepancies between two or more documents, to add information from another source to support a statement or conclusion made in a different record, and other difficult to interpret situations.

appr.

(abbreviation) appraisal; appraisement.

assignment

grant of property or a legal right, benefit, or privilege to another person.

authenticate

prove a document is not a forgery.

B

b.

(abbreviation) born.

B

(abbreviation) black, indicating race.

banns

public announcement of an intended marriage, generally made in church.

bapt.

(abbreviation) baptized.

base-born

a base-born individual was an illegitimate child.

bastard

a bastard is an illegitimate child.

biographies

a biography is a book written about a particular individual. You can also find compiled biographies, which are books that contain short biographies of many different people. A compiled biography normally is about a specific group of people. For example, you can find compiled biographies about individuals who were involved in a particular profession or who lived in a particular area. You can usually find the following information in a biography: occupation, accomplishments, affiliations, and family information.

birth records

a birth record contains information about the birth of an individual. On a birth record, you can usually find the mother’s full maiden name and the father’s full name, the name of the baby, the date of the birth, and county where the birth took place. Many birth records include other information, such as the birthplaces of the baby’s parents, the addresses of the parents, the number of children that the parents have, and the race of the parents, and the parents’ occupations.

bef.

(abbreviation) before.

bequeath

term appearing in a will meaning to leave or give property as specified therein to another person or organization.

bet.

(abbreviation) between

bibliography

list of writings relating to a specific subject, some of which are annotated. A bibliographic citation describes and identifies the author, edition, date of issue, publisher, and typography of a book or other written material. Generally, bibliographies appear at the end of a publication to indicate the sources used by the author or to suggest titles for additional reading. Bibliographic citations appear in footnotes and end-notes to document the source of a statement made in the body of a writing.

bond

written, binding agreement to perform as specified. Many types of bonds have existed for centuries and appear in marriage, land and court records of used by genealogists. Historically, laws required administrators and executors of estates, grooms alone or with others, and guardians of minors to post bonds. It is not unusual to discover that a bondsman was related to someone involved in the action before the court. If a bondsman failed to perform, the court may have demanded payment of a specified sum as a penalty.

bounds

pertaining to measuring natural or man-made features on the land.

bounty land

land promised as an inducement for enlistment or payment for military services. A central government did not exist when the Revolutionary War began, nor did a treasury. Land, the greatest asset the new nation possessed, was used to induce enlistment and as payment for military services. Those authorized to bounty land received a Bounty Land Warrant from the newly formed government after the war.

bulletin board system (bbs)

Bulletin Board Systems are used by many genealogists to share information on a online community forum, such as GenForum.

bp.

(abbreviation) baptized.

bpt.

(abbreviation) baptized.

bro.

(abbreviation) brother.

bu.

(abbreviation) buried.

bur.

(abbreviation) buried.

C

c., ca.

(abbreviation) about or around, from the Latin word circa.

cem.

(abbreviation) cemetery.

cemetery records

cemetery caretakers usually keep records of the names and death dates of those buried, as well as maps of the grave sites. They may also keep more detailed records, including the names of the deceased’s relatives. In addition to these paper records, you will find tombstones. Tombstones can provide information such as birth and death dates and the names of other family members.

census records

a census is an official enumeration of the population in a particular area. In addition to counting the inhabitants of an area, the census generally collects other vital information, such as names, ages, citizenship status, and ethnic background. The United States government began collecting census data in 1790, and has done so every 10 years since that date. Selected states have also conducted their own censuses over the years.

chr.

(abbreviation) christened.

christian name

names other than a person’s last name

church records

church records are the formal documents that churches have kept about their congregations through the years. Churches normally record information about christenings, baptisms, marriages, and burials. The type of information you will find in the records are the name(s) of the individual(s) involved, the date of the event, the location of the event, and the clergyman’s name. You may find additional information, such as parents’ names (father’s full name and mother’s maiden name), the names of witnesses to an event, and the individual’s (or family’s) place of residence.

civ.

(abbreviation) civil

civil law

laws concerned with civil or private rights and remedies, as contrasted with criminal law; body of law established by a nation, commonwealth, county or city, also called municipal law.

codicil

supplement or addition to a will; not intended to replace an entire will.

collateral line

line of descent connecting persons who share a common ancestor, but are related through an aunt, uncle, cousin, nephew, etc.

conf.

(abbreviation) confirmed.

consanguinity

the degree of relationship between persons who descend from a common ancestor. A father and son are related by lineal consanguinity, uncle and nephew by collateral sanguinity.

comm.

(abbreviation) communion, communicant.

common ancestor

person through whom tow or more persons claim descent or lineage.

communicant

person receiving communion in a religious ceremony or service.

confederacy

Confederate States of America; group of southern states that seceded from the United States from 1860-1865.

consort

wife, husband, spouse, mate, companion.

conveyance

legal document by which the title to property is transferred; warrant; patent; deed.

cousin

child of an aunt or uncle; in earlier times a kinsman, close relative, or friend.

CW

Civil War, War of the Rebellion, War between the States, 1861-1865.

D

d.

(abbreviation) died.

dau.

(abbreviation) daughter.

daughter-in-law

A daughter-in-law is the wife of an individual’s son. Daughter-in-law also used to mean “step-daughter.”

dec’d

(abbreviation) deceased.

deceased

commonly written “the deceased,” meaning someone who has died.

descendant

Your descendants are your children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and so on — anyone to whom you are an ancestor.

declaration of intention

a declaration of intention is a document filed in a court by an alien who intended to become a United States citizen. It could also be a declaration filed by a couple in a local court, indicating their intention to marry.

deed

document transferring ownership and title of property.

devise

gift of real property by last will and testament of the donor.

devisee

person receiving land or real property in the last will and testament of the donor.

devisor

person giving land or real property in a last will and testament.

direct line

line of decent traced through persons who are related to one another as a child and parent.

directories

directories come in all types: city, telephone, county, regional, professional, religious, post office, street, ethnic, and school. The directories you search will depend on the type of information you know about the individual. The information that you can find in a directory depends on the type of directory. For example, city directories normally list names and addresses. In some city directories you can also find information such as children’s names, marriage dates, death dates, and birth dates. Other types of directories may provide you with even more interesting information about your ancestors. For instance, a church directory may tell you about an individual’s involvement in church activities, professional directories may give you insight into your ancestor’s professional life, and club directories may contain information about your ancestor’s involvement in social activities.

dissenter

name given a person who refused to belong to the established Church of England.

div.

(abbreviation) divorced.

double date

the practice of writing double dates resulted from switching from the Julian to the Gregorian calendar, and also from the fact that not all countries and people accepted the new calendar at the same time.

dowager

widow holding property or a title received from her deceased husband; title given in England to widows of princes, dukes, earls, and other noblemen.

dower

legal provision of real estate and support made to the widow for her lifetime from a husband’s estate.

download

downloading is electronically extracting files from a network or bulletin board system for use on your own computer. Many bulletin board systems with genealogy sections have files that you can download.

dowry (also dowery)

land, money, goods, or personal property brought by a bride to her husband in marriage.

E

emancipated

freed from slavery; freed from parents’ control; of legal age.

emigrant

person leaving one country to reside in another country.

emigration

emigration is when an individual leaves their home country to live in another country.

entail

to entail is to restrict the inheritance of land to a specific group of heirs, such as an individual’s sons.

enumeration

list of people, as in a census.

estate

assets and liabilities of a decedent, including land, personal belongings and debts.

et al

“and others.”

et ux

“and wife.”

evidence

any kind of proof, such as testimony, documents, records, certificates, material objects, etc.

exec.

(abbreviation) executor.

exor.

(abbreviation) executor.

exox.

(abbreviation) executrix.

executor

male appointed by a testator to carry out the directions and requests in his or her will, and to dispose of the property according to his testamentary provisions after his or her death.

executrix

female appointed by a testator to carry out the directions and requests in his or her will, and to dispose of the property according to the testamentary provisions after his or her death.

F

fam.

(abbreviation) family.

family group sheet

a family group sheet is a form which presents genealogical information about a nuclear family — a husband, a wife, and their children. A family group sheet usually includes birth dates and places, death dates and places, and marriage dates and places. Family Tree Maker for Windows can help you create family group sheets for your family.

family pedigrees

in general, family pedigrees refer to family group sheets that are linked in a computer system. When you access an individual’s family group sheet in a linked pedigree, you also access all of the records that are linked to that individual.

family histories/genealogies

family histories and genealogies are books which detail the basic genealogical facts about one or more generations of a particular family.

FamilySearch

you can find FamilySearch computers at the Family History Library of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints or at one of the branch Family History Centers. The FamilySearch computer contains several databases of information: the Social Security Death Index, the Military Index, the Ancestral File, and the International Genealogical Index. You can use these resources to search for information about your family members right on the computer. You can also use the FamilySearch computer to look up items in the Family History Library Catalog. Because of the popularity of the FamilySearch computer, many Family History Centers require you to sign up for a time slot in advance. FamilySearch is also now available on the Internet through the Web site of the LDS Church.

fee simple

an inheritance having no limitations or conditions in its use.

feme

female, woman, or wife.

feme sole

unmarried woman or a married woman with property independent of her husband.

fortnight

two weeks.

FR

(abbreviation) family register.

freedman

male released from slavery; emancipated person.

freeman

male of legal age with the right to vote, own land and practice a trade.

free man of color

black man who was free from birth or later in life.

full age

age of majority; legal age; adult (legal age varied according to place and current law).

G

gazetteer

a gazetteer is a book which alphabetically names and describes the places in a specific area. For example, a gazetteer of a county would name and describe all of the towns, lakes, rivers, and mountains in the county.

gdn.

guardian.

GEDCOM

is a standard file format for exchanging information between genealogy programs. The acronym GEDCOM stands for GEnealogical Data COMmunications. The Family History Department of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) developed the GEDCOM standard. Most genealogy software programs will export family information in GEDCOM format. You can contribute your GEDCOM file to the World Family Tree Project either on diskette or online.

genealogy

study of one’s ancestry; summary history or table of a person’s ancestry.

good brother

brother-in-law.

good sister

sister-in-law.

good son

son-in-law.

grandam

grandmother.

grantee

person purchasing, buying or receiving property.

grantee index

master index of persons purchasing, buying or receiving property.

grantor

person selling, granting, transferring or conveying property.

grantor index

master index of persons selling, granting, transferring or conveying property.

grdn.

(abbreviation) guardian.

guardian

person lawfully appointed to care for the person of a minor, invalid, incompetent and their interests, such as education, property management and investments.

H

heir

person who succeeds, by the rules of law, to an estate upon the death of an ancestor; one with rights to inherit an estate.

heir apparent

by law a person whose right of inheritance is established, provided he or she outlives the ancestor, see also primogeniture.

holographic will

a holographic or olographic will is handwritten and signed by the individual that the will belongs to.

homestead

a homestead usually is a home on land obtained from the United States government. Part of the agreement between the individual and the government was that the individual had to live on the land and make improvements to it, such as adding buildings and clearing fields.

hon.

(abbreviation) honorable.

husb.

(abbreviation) husband.

I

illegitimate

child born to a woman who is not married to the father.

immigrant

person moving into a country from another country.

immigration

immigration is when an individual goes into a new country to live.

imp.

(abbreviation) imported.

indentured servant

person who is bound into the service of another person for a specified period, usually seven years in the 18th and 19th centuries to pay for passage to another country.

index

in genealogical terms, an index is an alphabetical list of names that were taken from a particular set of records. For example, a census record index lists the names of individuals that are found in a particular set of census records. Indexes mostly come in book form, but you can also find them on CD-ROM, microfilm, and microfiche.

inf.

infantry.

infant

person under legal age.

inhab

(abbreviation) inhabitant; inhabited.

instant

of this month.

International Genealogical Index (IGI)

the International Genealogical Index (IGI) is one of the resources of the Family History Library of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Containing approximately 250 million names, it is an index of people’s names that were either submitted to the church, or were extracted from records that the church has microfilmed over the years. You can use the IGI to locate information about your ancestors.

intestate

used to denote a person who died without leaving a will.

inventory

an inventory is a legal list of all the property in a deceased person’s estate. The executor of the will is required to make an inventory.

issue

children, descendants, offspring.

J

jno

(abbreviation) John or Johannes.

joiner

carpenter who does finish work.

jud.

(abbreviation) judicial.

Julian Calendar

calendar named for Julius Caesar and used from 45 B.C. to 1582, called the “Old Style” calendar; replaced by the Gregorian calendar.

junr.

(abbreviation) junior.

juvenis

juvenile, minor, under legal age.

K

knave

servant boy.

knt.

(abbreviation) knight.

L

land records

land records are deeds — proof that a piece of land is owned by a particular individual. The information you receive from the records will vary, but you will at least get a name, the location of the property, and the period of ownership.

late

denoting someone who is deceased, ie., the late John Thomas.

legacy

property or money bequeathed to someone in a will.

legatee

someone who inherits money or property from a person who left a will.

lessee

person leasing property from an owner.

lessor

owner leasing property to a tenant.

Letters Testamentary

court document allowing the executor named in a will to carry out his or her duties.

liber

book of public records.

lic.

(abbreviation) license.

lien

claim placed on property by a person who is owed money.

life estate

use interest in property until death.

lineage

direct line of descent from an ancestor; ancestry; progeny.

lis pendens

notices of suits pending litigation, usually in matters concerning land.

litigant

person involved in a lawsuit.

liv.

(abbreviation) living.

local history

a local history is usually a book about a particular town or county. Local histories were quite popular in the late 19th century. While they often give the history of the development of the area, they usually also include some information about the important families that lived there.

loco parentis

in place of the parent or parents.

loyalist

colonist who supported the British during the American Revolution; Tory.

ltd.

(abbreviation) limited.

M

m.

(abbreviation) married.

md.

(abbreviation) married.

maiden name

a woman’s last name prior to marriage.

major

person who has reached legal age.

majores

ancestors.

majority

legal age.

manse

parsonage; enough land to support a family.

manumission

manumission is the act of being released from slavery or servitude.

manuscript

manuscripts are usually unpublished family histories or collections of family papers. Depending on what the manuscript contains, you may be able to find all kinds of family information. Generally, you will find more than just names, birth dates, and death dates.

marita

married woman, wife.

maritus

bridegroom, married man.

marriage bond

a marriage bond is document obtained by an engaged couple prior to their marriage. It affirmed that there was no moral or legal reason why the couple could not be married. In addition, the man affirmed that he would be able to support himself and his new bride.

marriage contract

legal agreement between prospective spouses made before marriage to determine their property rights and those of their children.

marriage records

a marriage record contains information about a marriage between two individuals. On a marriage record, you can at least find the bride’s and groom’s full names, the date of the marriage, and county where the marriage took place. Many marriage records include other information, such as the names and birthplaces of the bride’s and groom’s parents, the addresses of the bride and groom, information about previous marriages, and the names of the witnesses to the marriage.

maternal line

line of descent traced through the mother’s ancestry.

matron

older married woman with children.

mensis

month.

metes

measurements of distance in feet, rods, poles, chains, etc.; pertains to measuring direction and distance.

metes and bounds

method of surveying property by using physical and topographical features in conjunction with measurements.

mil.

(abbreviation) military.

military records

the US government has always kept records on all military and civilian workers. Most of these files have very detailed information, such as the individual’s name, their spouse’s name, date of birth, place of residence, which wars the individual served in, their military organization (Navy, Marines, or Army), when the individual’s service began and ended, where and when the individual died, and where the individual was buried.

militia

a citizen army; a military organization formed by local citizens to serve in emergencies.

minor

a person under legal age; historically, the legal age differed from place to place and over time. (Check prevailing law to determine the legal age requirement at a specific time.)

mo.

(abbreviation) month.

mortality schedule

a section of the federal census listing information about persons who died during the census year.

mulatto

a mulatto is legally considered to be an individual with mixed black and white heritage. However, some individuals who were designated mulattos may have a slightly more mixed parentage, perhaps including Native American blood.

N

naturalization records

naturalization records document the process by which an immigrant becomes a citizen. An individual has to live in the United States for a specific period of time and file a series of forms with a court before he or she can become naturalized. Naturalization records provide the following information: place and date of birth, date of arrival into the United States, place of residence at the time of naturalization, a personal description, and sometimes the name of the ship that the individual arrived on and the individual’s occupation.

na.

naturalized; not applicable.

natus

born.

n.d.

(abbreviation) no date; not dated.

nee

born, used to denote a woman’s maiden name, ie., Anne Gibson nee West.

n.p.

(abbreviation) no place listed; no publisher listed.

neph.

(abbreviation) nephew.

newspaper announcements

normally, newspapers announce events of genealogical interest such as births, deaths, and marriages. The amount of information in these announcements will vary. Most likely you will find the names of the individuals involved in the event, the date of the event, and where the event took place. Sometimes you can even find pictures.

nunc.

(abbreviation) nuncupative will, oral will.

nuncupative will

oral will declared or dictated by the testator in his last sickness before a sufficient number of witnesses and afterwards put in writing.

O

ob.

(abbreviation) obit, deceased,

OB

(abbreviation) order book, as in court order book.

obiit.

(abbreviation) he or she died.

obit.

(abbreviation) obituary.

octoroon

child of a quadroon; person having one-eighth black ancestry.

of color

black, Indian, persons of mixed blood.

Old Dominion

Virginia.

old style calendar

Julian calendar, used before the Gregorian calendar.

olographic will

an olographic or holographic will is handwritten and signed by the individual that the will belongs to.

oral history

an oral history is a collection of family stories told by a member of the family or by a close family friend. Normally, an oral history is transcribed onto paper, or is video or tape recorded. Oral histories can yield some of the best information about a family — the kinds of things that you won’t find written in records.

oral will

nuncupative will – oral will declared or dictated by the testator in his last sickness before a sufficient number of witnesses and afterwards put in writing.

orphan

a child whose mother, father, or both have died.

orphan assylum

an orphanage.

OS

old style calendar.

P

Palatinate

area in Germany known as the Pfalz, Rheinland Pfalz and Bavarian Pfalz from which thousands of families immigrated to colonial America.

paleography

study of handwriting.

parent county

the county from which a new county is formed.

parish

ecclesiastical division or jurisdiction; the site of a church.

passenger lists

passenger lists are lists of the names and information about passengers that arrived on ships into the United States. These lists were submitted to customs collectors at every port by the ship’s master. Passenger lists were not officially required by the United States government until 1820. Before that date, the information about each passenger varied widely, from names to number of bags.

patent

a government grant of property in fee simple to public lands; land grant.

paternal line

line of descent traced through the father’s ancestry.

patronymics

patronymics is the practice of creating last names from the name of one’s father. For example, Robert, John’s son, would become Robert Johnson. Robert Johnson’s son Neil would become Neil Robertson.

pedigree

a person’s ancestry, lineage, family tree.

pedigree chart

a chart showing a person’s ancestry.

pension (military)

a benefit paid regularly to a person for military service or a military service related disability.

pensioner

person who receives pension benefits.

p.o.a.

(abbreviation) power of attorney.

poll

used in early tax records denoting a taxable person; person eligible to vote.

posthumous

a child born after the death of the father.

power of attorney

written instrument where on persons, as principal, appoints someone as his or her agent, thereby authorizing that person to perform certain acts on behalf of the principal, such as buying or selling property, settling an estate, representing them in court, etc.

pr.

(abbreviation) proved, probated.

p.r.

(abbreviation) parish register.

preponderance of evidence

evidence of greater weight or more convincing than the opposing evidence; evidence more credible and convincing, more reasonable and probable, and can be circumstantial in nature.

primary evidence

original or first-hand evidence; the best evidence available that must be used before secondary evidence can be introduced as proof.

primary source

primary sources are records that were created at the time of an event. For example, a primary source for a birth date would be a birth certificate. While you can find birth dates on other documents, such as marriage certificates, they would not be primary sources for the birth date, because they were not created at the time of the birth.

primogeniture

insures the right of the eldest son to inherit the entire estate of his parents, to the exclusion of younger sons.

prob.

(abbreviation) probably; probated.

probate

legal process used to determine the validity of a will before the court authorizes distribution of an estate; legal process used to appoint an someone to administer the estate of someone who died without leaving a will.

probate records

probate records are records disposing of a deceased individual’s property. They may include an individual’s last will and testament, if one was made. The information you can get from probate records varies, but usually includes the name of the deceased, either the deceased’s age at the time of death or birth date, property, members of the family, and the last place of residence.

progenitor

a direct ancestor.

public domain

land owned by a government.

Pvt.

(abbreviation) military rank of private

Q

quadroon

child of a mulatto and white parentage; a child with one black grandparent.

quitclaim deed

transfer of land or claim without guarantying a clear title.

quit rent roll

in early Virginia, a list of those who paid the annual fee to the King in exchange for the right to live on and farm property.

quod vide

directs the reader to look in another part of the book for further information.

q.v.

(abbreviation) quod vide (see above).

R

R.C.

(abbreviation) Roman Catholic.

real property

land and anything attached to it, such as houses, building, barns, growing timber, growing crops, etc.

rec’d

(abbreviation) received.

receiver

person appointed by court to hold property until a suit is settled.

reconveyance

property sold to another person is transferred back to the original owner.

reeve

churchwarden; early name for sheriff in England.

reg.

(abbreviation) register.

relicta

widow.

relictus

widower.

relict

widow.

repud.

(abbreviation) repudiate.

res.

(abbreviation) residence; research.

researcher id card

All researchers using original records at the National Archives or National Archives regional centers must get a researcher ID card. If you just plan to use microfilmed records, you do not need to get an ID card. To get an ID card you will be asked to fill out an application. You should bring photo identification, such as a driver’s license, school identification card, or passport on your first visit to the archives. Researcher ID cards are free of charge and are valid for two years. The ID card must be presented at each visit.

ret.

(abbreviation) retired.

Rev.

(abbreviation) reverend.

Rev. War

(abbreviation) Revolutionary War.

rustica

country girl

rusticus

country boy.

S

s.

(abbreviation) son.

s. and h.

(abbreviation) son and heir.

secondary evidence

evidence that is inferior to primary evidence or the best evidence.

secondary source

a secondary source is a record that was created a significant amount of time after an event occurred. For example, a marriage certificate would be a secondary source for a birth date, because the birth took place several years before the time of the marriage. However, that same marriage certificate would be a primary source for a marriage date, because it was created at the time of the marriage.

self-addressed stamped envelope (sase)

when you request records or other information from people and institutions, you should include a self-addressed stamped envelope (SASE) in your letter. Of course, a SASE with U.S. postage stamps on it is only good in the United States. If you are expecting return mail from overseas, you should include an International Reply Coupon with your self-addressed envelope. This coupon serves as payment for any international postage you may need to pay. They can be purchased at your local post office.

serv.

(abbreviation) servant.

sibling

a brother or sister, persons who share the same parents in common.

sic

latin term signifying a copy reads exactly as the original; indicates a possible mistake in the original.

s/o

son of.

soc.

(abbreviation) society

social security death index

the Social Security Death Index is an index of Social Security Death records. Generally this includes names of deceased Social Security recipients whose relatives applied for Social Security Death Benefits after their passing. Also included in the millions of records are approximately 400,000 railroad retirement records from the early 1900s to 1950s.

soundex

phonetic indexing system.

source

the document, record, publication, manuscript, etc. used to prove a fact.

a sponsor is an individual other than the parents of a child that takes responsibility for the child’s religious education. Sponsors are usually present at a child’s baptism. Sponsors are often referred to as godparents.

srnm.

(abbreviation) surname, last name.

St.

(abbreviation) saint; street.

statute

a law.

step

used in conjunction with a degree of kinship.

stepchild

child of one of the spouses by a former marriage who has not been adopted by the step-parent.

stepfather

husband of a child’s mother by a later marriage.

stepmother

wife of a child’s father by a later marriage.

surg.

(abbreviation) surgeon

surname

last name, family name.

T

T.

(abbreviation) township.

terr.

(abbreviation) territory.

test.

(abbreviation) testament.

testate

died leaving a valid will.

testis

witness.

testator

man who writes a valid will.

testatrix

woman who writes a valid will.

tithable

a person taxable by law.

tithe

in English law, the tenth part of one’s annual increase paid to support noblemen and clergy; amount of annual poll tax.

township

in a government survey, is a square tract six miles on each side containing thirty-six square miles of land; a name given to the civil and political subdivisions of a county.

twp.

(abbreviation) township

U

ultimo

the preceding month

unk.

(abbreviation) unknown.

unprobated will

will never submitted for probate.

unsolemn will

will in which an executor is not named.

unm.

(abbreviation) unmarried.

uxor.

wife, spouse, consort.

V

valid

that which is legal and binding.

vestry

administrative group within a parish; the ruling body of a church.

vidua

widow.

viduus

widower.

virgo

used to describe an unmarried woman in English and European marriage records.

vital records

birth, marriage, and death records.

W

warranty deed

guarantees a clear property title from the seller to the buyer.

wheelwright

person who makes and repairs vehicle wheels, such as carts, wagons, etc.

widow

a widow is a woman whose husband has died.

widower

a widower is a man whose wife has died.

witness

a witness is an individual present at an event such as a marriage or the signing of a document who can vouch that the event took place.

white rent

blackmail; rent to be paid in silver.

will

a document stating how a person wants real and personal property divided after death.

writ of attachment

court order authorizing the seizure of property sufficient to cover debts and court costs for not appearing in court.

writ of summons

document ordering a person to appear in court.

X

Y

yeoman

farmer; freeholder who works a small estate; rank below gentleman.

Z

Latin Terms

Anno Domini

(A.D.) – in the year of our Lord

circa, circiter

(c., ca., circ.) – about

connubium

– marriage

et

– and, both

et alii

(et al.) – and others

et cetera

(etc., andampc.) – and so forth

familia

– household

filiam

– daughter

filium

– son

item

– also, likewise

mater

– mother

materfamilias

– (female) head of household

mensis

(menses) – month(s)

nepos

– grandson. Also meant “nephew” in some records.

neptis

– granddaughter. Also meant “niece” in some records.

nota bene

(N.B.) – take note

obit

– (he or she) died

obit sine prole

(o.s.p.) – (he or she) died without offspring

pater

– father

requiescat in pace

(R.I.P.) – rest in peace

sic

– so, thus

testes

– witnesses

ultimo

(ult.) – last

uxor

(ux, vx) – wife

Verbi Dei Minister

(V.D.M.) – minister of the word of God

videlicet

(viz, vizt) – namely

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