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Ahnentafel Means ancestor table.  An Ahnentafel report prints a list-style version of a pedigree chart.  On the report, the father's number is two times the child's number.  The mother's number is two times the child's number plus one.

Ancestor One from whom a person descends, either through the father or the mother at any distance of time.  Also known as a progenitor, forefather or forebear.

Ancestral File A computerized file of individual and family records, created from records and pedigree charts submitted to the Family History Department of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints since 1979.  The purpose of the Ancestral File is to help people coordinate their research.

Back Up To make a copy of your Family File.  This can be used for archive purposes or for sending a copy of your information to a friend.

Backup A compressed copy of the Family File.

Banns The posting of the announcement of an upcoming marriage before the actual marriage takes place.  This allows for protests from others who might have reason.  The banns were read out loud in most churches a few weeks before the actual marriage.

Census The official counting of the population.   Various censuses gathered details such as ages, sexes, occupation, etc.  United States Federal censuses have been taken every 10 years since 1790.

Clan A social unit in the Scottish Highlands, consisting of a number of families descending from a common ancestor and following the same hereditary leader.

Coat of Arms Shield with distinctive symbols and emblems on it in specific colors identifying one person and his direct descendants.

Common Law Marriage A man and a woman living together without legal action.  In some states living together for a specified period of time constitutes a legal marriage.

Cousin In colonial times this term mostly meant a niece or nephew.  Sometime it meant any family relationship except mother, father, sister or brother.  Today it means a child of an aunt or uncle.  Qualifiers such as first, second, third and once removed, twice removed, etc. are now used to denote how many generations to a common ancestor and how many generations difference.

Descendant One who proceeds from or is born of an ancestor.

Double Dating The practice double dates resulted from the switch from the Julian to the Gregorian calendar, and also from the fact that not all countries accepted the new calendar at the same time. (See Calendar History)

Enumerator The person who took a census.

Estate All of a person's possessions.  Often the property left by a deceased person.

Executor A person named in a will and appointed by the court to execute the provisions of the will.

Family File A file containing all the information you enter about the individuals and families tied together into family groups.  

Family Group Record A standard form for recording genealogical information on one husband and wife with their children.

Family History Center An LDS library located at a local church meetinghouse that has FamilySearch available for all to use.  (See FamilySearch below)

Family History Library The largest repository of genealogical information in the world.  Maintained by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Salt Lake City, Utah.  The library is open to the public six days a week.

FamilySearch A series of databases found 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 program contains several databases of information including the Ancestral File, the International Genealogical Index, the Social Security Death Index and the Military Index. You can use these resources to search for information about your family members right on the computer.  FamilySearch also has an index for looking up items in the Family History Library Catalog.

Family View A window in Legacy showing a Husband and Wife with their parents above and their children below.  You can navigate to preceding and successive generations by double-clicking on the parents or children respectively.

Field An area where you can type in information.

Forebear An ancestor or forefather.

Freeman Someone who held the full rights of a citizen, such as voting and engaging in business.

GEDCOM Genealogical Data Communications.  A file format standard created by the Family History Department of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for use in transferring genealogical information from one program to another.

Godfather or Godmother A man or woman who sponsors a child at baptism.

Gregorian Calendar The calendar we use today.  Pope Gregory XIII ordered the replacement of the previous Julian Calendar in 1582, because of its inaccuracies.  The Gregorian calendar was not adopted by England or the American colonies until 1752.

Heir A person who inherits the estate of another.

In-Law A relative by marriage.  In the past, colonists also used this term for any family relationship that occurred from a marriage, such as a son-in-law or a stepson.

Instrument A formal document, such as a deed or a will

Julian Calendar The calendar created by Julius Caesar used before 1752. (see Gregorian Calendar.)

Junior, Senior, III Generally meaning a father/son relationship, but often used to differentiate between people with the same name, whether or not they were related.                The oldest was called Senior and the other Junior.  If there were more than two, III would be used.  When the oldest person died, the Junior would become Senior.

Kith and Kin Friends and neighbors.

Nephew Usually means the same as we use it today, the child of a sibling.  It was also variously used to indicate a niece or grandson or granddaughter in old records. 

PAF Personal Ancestral File®.  A genealogy program created by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  It is a widely used, DOS-based program.

Pedigree Chart A report showing an individual along with parents, grandparents, great-grandparents, etc. for a specified number of generations.

Pedigree View A window in Legacy showing four or five generations of a family.  You can move to earlier and latter generations by double-clicking on buttons in the window.

Primary Source Records that were created at the time of an event.  For example, birth, marriage and death certificates.

Probate Legal establishment of the validity of a will.

Progenitor The originator of a line of descent.  This often refers to an immigrant ancestor.

Sibling A person's brother or sister.

Soundex A coding system meant to group together surnames that sound the same but that were spelled differently.  Often used to locate census records where the census taker guessed at the spelling of names. The 1880, 1900, 1920, and part of the 1910 census have Soundex indexes.

Spouse A husband or wife.

Tagged Notes Information in the Notes fields that is connected by a tag word to a specific purpose.  Personal Ancestral File used tagged notes to store sources and other information within their Notes field.  (Legacy extracts these tagged notes and puts them in their correct fields when you import a GEDCOM or PAF file.)

Testator A man who died and left a valid will.

Vital Records Vital records document the major events of a person's life such as birth, marriage, death, and divorce.

Other Resources

Abbreviations Found in Genealogy: and also 

UK Genealogy, Common Acronyms & Jargon: 

A List of Occupations, many of which are archaic. Find a person listed with an occupation of "AFFEEROR?" You can discover what he really did at: 

Archaic Medical Terms: 

Glossar: Die Familie: An annotated English-German glossary of terms frequently found in genealogy research: 

Meanings and origins of first names - an etymology (the origin of words) and list of the most popular names: 

Cemetery Junction Directory - A directory of more than 20,000 cemeteries, arranged by state. Search by cemetery and family name. Links to obituaries and genealogical societies in the U.S, Australia, and Canada:

A Glossary of Terms Used in Heraldry (coats of arms): 

Where to Write for Vital Records in the U.S.A. - Addresses and guidelines for contacting each U.S. state or territory for vital records and documents: