GenealogyGenealogy is the study and tracing of family pedigrees. This involves collecting the names of relatives, both living and deceased, establishing the relationships between them based on primary, secondary and/or circumstantial evidence or documentation, and thus building up a cohesive family tree. Genealogy is sometimes also referred to as family history, although sometimes these terms are used distinctly: the former being the basic study of who is related to whom; the latter involving more "fleshing out" of the life histories of the individuals involved.
The etymology of the word, taken from the online version of the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, is:-
In its original form, genealogy was mainly concerned with the ancestry of rulers and nobles, often arguing or demonstrating the legitimacy of claims to wealth and power. The term often overlapped with heraldry, in which the ancestry of royalty was reflected in the quarterings of their coat of arms. Many of the claimed ancestries are considered by modern scholars to be fabrications, especially the claims of kings and emperors who trace their ancestry to gods or the founders of their civilization. For example, the Anglo-Saxon chroniclers traced the ancestry of several English kings back to the god Woden (the English version of the Norse god Odin). If these descents were true, Queen Elizabeth II would be a descendant of Woden, via the kings of Wessex.
- Middle English genealogie, from Middle French, from Late Latin genealogia, from Greek, from genea race, family + -logia -logy; akin to Greek genos race Date: 14th century: an account of the descent of a person, family, or group from an ancestor
Records of persons who were neither royalty nor nobility began to be taken by governments in order to keep track of their citizens. (In most of Europe, for example, this started to take place in the 16th century.) As more of the population began to be recorded, there were sufficient records to follow a family using the paper trail they left behind.
As each person lived his or her life, the major events were documented with a license, permit or report which was sent to a local, regional or national office or archive. A genealogist locates copies of these records, wherever they have been stored, and rearranges the information about each person to discover family relationships and recreate a timeline of each person's life once again.
Records that are used in genealogy research include:
Genealogists search written records, collect oral histories and preserve family stories to discover ancestors and living relatives. Genealogists also attempt to understand not just where and when people lived but also their lifestyle, biography, and motivations. This often requires — or leads to — knowledge of antique law, old political boundaries, immigration trends, and historical social conditions.
Even an unsuccessful search for ancestors leads to a better understanding of history. The search for living relatives often leads to family reunions, both of distant cousins and of disrupted families. Genealogists sometimes help reunite families separated by immigration, foster homes and adoption. The genealogist can help keep family traditions alive.
In most cultures, the name of a person includes in one way or another the family to which he or she belongs. This is called the family name, or surname. It is often also called the last name because, for most speakers of English, the family name comes after the given name (or names). However, this is not the case in all cultures.
The Mormons practise baptism for the dead, an ordinance where baptism is performed on living people for and in behalf of those who have died. They believe in this manner they may assist their deceased relatives to progress in the next life, should they accept the ordinance done in their behalf. In the last century, they engaged on a large scale program of copying all available records that would be useful for genealogy, microfilming them and constructing an index, the International Genealogical Index (IGI). The IGI contains all the ancestral records that their followers had compiled. By making so many resources available (for example, copies of their microfilmed parish registers are available worldwide at their Family History Centers at a nominal cost, they have helped contribute to the increasing interest in genealogy over the last couple of decades.
Data sharing between genealogical researchers has grown to be a major use of the Internet. Since most genealogy software programs store information about persons and their relationships in GEDCOM format, they can be shared with other genealogists by e-mail and Internet message boards, added to an online database, or converted into a family web sites using online genealogical tools such as Phpgedview. One phenomenon over the last few years has been that of large genealogy-related databases going on-line, attracting a flash crowd, and having to suspend service within days to make hurried upgrades after collapsing under the unexpected magnitude of traffic load: this happened with the Mormons' genealogy database , and the Commonwealth War Graves Commission's listing of war graves . In January 2002, the much-anticipated British census for 1901  went online. Within minutes it was inaccessible due to the server and network load, and it had to be taken offline. Later in the year, after upgrades had been made, it came back online.
Genealogy has been claimed by some to be one of the most popular hobbies in America, second only to gardening. The hobby received a big boost in popularity in the late 1970s with the premiere of the television adaptation of Alex Haley's fictionalized account of his family line, .
In fiction, it is common to give a character a complicated fictional genealogy to make his or her background more interesting. A picaresque one is the genealogy for Godwulf of Asgard.
Reliability of Sources
Experience shows that genealogical facts can be unreliable. The top five, in order of decreasing reliability, are:
1. Place Names - Normally the most accurate because it is long lasting, and apart from rare occasions is rarely wrong. Things to look out for include variable spellings by partially literate scribes, small places of the same name in neighbouring counties (e.g. the name of the village of Brocton occurs six times in the border area between the English counties of Shropshire and Staffordshire), old county borders (outlying and detached areas belonging to one country with another county, particularly in C17th-C19th England), and incorrect county on census returns. The place where the ancestor recalls growing up my not be the place of birth or where the records are eventually found. Many families have been historically very mobile. A good set of detailed maps (such as the British Ordnance Survey (OS)) and use the OS Old Map website. Old records may contain references to Middle Age villages that have ceased to exist due to disease or famine. In general, there is a good likelihood that the place (parish) of a birth for a girl is the place she marries (unless 'sent abroad' as a servant), and that the place of residence for a man is where he is buried; certainly a neighbouring parish. Useful references: maps (online), census returns, birth, death & marriage records, Domesday Book.
2. Occupations - Can be partly right. Many unskilled ancestors had a variety of jobs depending on the season and local trade requirements. Occasionally skilled trades pass from father to son. Census returns may contain some embellishment from Labourer to Mason, or from journeyman to Master craftsman. Workmen no longer fit for their primary trade often have less glamorous jobs later in life. Look out for old or unfamiliar local occupations that may cause confusion if poorly legible - an ostler (a keeper of horses) and a hostler (an innkeeper) can be confused. For example, someone who has a perplexing description "ironer of rabbit burrows" turns out an ironer (profession) in the Bristol district named Rabbit Burrows. Several trades have regional preferences, for e.g. shoemaker or cordwainer, and many apparently obscure jobs are part of a larger trade community such as watchmaking, framework knitting or gunmaking. References: trade directories, census returns, birth, death & marriage records.
3. Surnames - At least correct if viewed phonetically! Some surnames can be spelled a multitude of way by partially illiterate ancestors or scribes. The further you go back, the more bizarre the variations you encounter. Some names become interchangeable between married and maiden names, and previous husbands names. Some family names are not always obvious (examples include MORDECAI interchangeable with MORT). Confusion can result from using step-parents or adopted parents names, as well as a woman using her lover's name. Common-law marriages were still common in Victorian times in England, even though this type of legally recognised informal marriage was abolished in 1753, so records of a marriage simply may not exist. References: trade directories, census returns, birth, death & marriage records.
4. First Names - One of the most confusing aspects of research for a wide range of reasons. Nicknames are very common - Beth, Lizzie or Betty is common for Elizabeth, which can be confused with Eliza. Patty has been used as a diminutive form for Martha. There is Amy used for Alice, Nancy/Ann, and Polly for a number of girls names including Mary Ann and Elizabeth. While the girls names are the most confusing, boys names can also interchange: Jack, John & Jonathan, Joseph & Josiah, Edward & Edwin, etc. The use of middle names is more common than you may think - very often names appear back to front on a wide range of documents. The same name can also be given to several children, often the result of an earlier child dying young, however this is not always the case! You may conclude that there is both a John senior and John junior alive at the same time. It is also common to confuse relatives (father and son, nephew & uncle, etc.) and family groups - you will find a period in time where everyone seems to be a child of a couple named William & Mary or Samuel & Ann, with several couples of the name living in the district you're researching, all with children named with the most popular names of the times! The sex of some names is not always clear - examples include Treasure (male) or a Frances (actually male - "Francis") marrying Eli (actually female - "Elly").
5. Dates - the general rule is to never trust a date! Accurate dates of birth may be given for modern registrations and in a few church records at baptism. Family bibles may be a help, but can be written from memory long after the event - beware of the same ink and handwriting for all entries; a sure sign the dates were written at the same time and therefore will be less reliable. Women will commonly reduce their age on marriage, and perhaps those under "full age" may increase their age upon marriage or joining the armed forces. Censusreturns are notoriously unreliable, particularly when looking for a date for a husband's death - if the woman is at home while the husband is away, she could be given as Head of household or assumed a widow. The 1841 census in the UK is rounded to the nearest five years. Dates around birth may be confused between birth and baptism. Some families wait 3-5 years before baptising children, and adult baptisms are not uncommon. Both birth and marriage dates can be adjusted to cover for pre-wedding pregnancies. It is very common for the first child to be born before or within a few months of a marriage and perhaps baptised in the mother's name, later adopting the father's name after marriage. The father's name can be used even if no marriage has occurred. In 1752 the 25th March became 1st January, so two dates and years may appear around this time. The 24th of March 1751/52 occurred before the 1st of January 1751/52.
Source | Copyright
Webmasters: Add your website here:
Readers: Edit |
Family tree shareware which features multi-page tree printouts.
Genealogy program that reads PAF files in directly. Features available include multimedia capabilities, advanced search and filtering.
Prints family group sheets and pedigree charts. Search for individuals and families, names, and locations.
Cumberland Family Software
Windows shareware program centered around creating family books, with an emphasis on event-based genealogy.
An event-based computer system that enables recording and retrieval of information in the life of a person.
BASIC program to maintain a family tree. Uses the worldwide standard GEDCOM file format to store information. (RISC Operating System only).
Family History System
A set of programs for creating and maintaining files of family information and for printing charts and reports.
Windows-based genealogy program geared to users with large databases. Extensive reporting features.
Windows-based genealogy software by FAMware.
Windows-based genealogy software with graphical user interface and drag-and-drop functionality.
Family Tree House
Genealogy software accessible by the internet only which will create an online family tree.
Family Tree Maker
Popular family tree software which creates charts and trees in a variety of formats.
Microsoft Access database program for documenting family history and generating a family tree web site.
Fzip Family Tree
Windows shareware genealogy program with charting and reporting features.
Macintosh shareware for editing and viewing genealogy files. Features customizable user interface.
Shareware genealogy software for Macintosh to store family data, print family trees and pedigree charts, and create web pages from database.
The Genealogy Timeline
Genealogical and Historical Timeline software. Merges historical information with family data.
Microsoft Access based genealogy program to record details about family members, and link them together in relationships.
Freeware with a Web interface which can be used off-line or as a Web service.
Software for editing and printing large genealogy trees and genograms. Ability to distribute output on the Internet with photos.
Open source genealogy program for Linux written in Python. Graphical user interface.
Windows-based genealogy program with multi-file, multi-window navigation.
Java-based version of LifeLines, an open source genealogy program that runs on UNIX, Linux and Windows. Includes new user interface.
The Master Genealogist
Family history project manager for DOS and Windows from Wholly Genes Software.
My Family Tree
Windows-based multimedia genealogy software to create family trees.
Personal Ancestral File
Popular genealogy program created by the Latter-day Saints and distributed for free.
Full-featured Macintosh-based genealogy software.
Ultimate Family Tree
Support for discontinued Ultimate Family Tree software.
WinFamily Genealogy Software
Windows-based shareware with capability to generate HTML output.
Generates genograms and ecomaps from text input. Allows travel in time with family and community.
Suffolk System of Recording Family History
Use a word-processor to record and display up to 15 generations on one page of A4 paper. Much easier to track a line of descent than the "traditional" method.
Web-based software tool for the visual recording and display of genealogical information.
Windows shareware program to organize family history and print a variety of charts and reports.
GenSmarts - Genealogy Search/Research Software
Generates and tracks research to-do lists, links to online records, prints worksheets, and helps plan research trips.
Software intended for building family trees, processing information about relatives and events in their lives.
Kachelmann Genogram-painting Shareware
Kachelmann creates diagrams in a fix matrix of cells. Icons or text may be placed into the cells. Output may be saved as jpg or html. A Java jre 1.4 is needed.
Coordination for GeneaPro software development. GeneaPro is open source, cross platform, genealogy software based on the GenTech data model.
Desai Technologies Family Tree Drillet
Lets you create pictorial family trees that can be shared like a document.
Provides QL Genealogist for the Sinclair QL range of computers, and Genealogy for Windows.
L&E Software, LLC
Software for genealogy data management.
Records family history, prints charts and family books, and generates complete web sites.
Italian software for genealogy.
A commercial application to help keep track of your family tree. Originally written by the late Graham Crowe, it is now being maintained by Paul Vigay and sold by APDL. (RISC Operating System only).
Create and edit family trees. Free, animated, intuitive and easy-to-use family tree software.
The Springhill Heritage Group
A CD-ROM and book featuring Joseph Moss's diary of vital statistics for the Springhill, Nova Scotia area from 1918 to 1976.
Viewer and editor for genealogic data written in Java.
Genealogy Enhancement Tools
Tools developed for creating digital genealogy photo albums with the ability to add voice sound to each photo.
Genealogy Program For Windows. Pedigree and descendant Charts (text or Box). Photo Album Included.
Family Tree Easy
Software which allows you to record your family geaneology and illustrate your family tree as a diagram.
phpmyfamily - Genealogical website builder
An interactive, dynamic genealogical website builder utilizing php/mySQL. Opensource software.
Supplies various genealogy software titles.
J&L Software's Genealogy Reference
The J&L Software's Geneology Reference is an easy to use way to organize your genealogy research data.
Written by Alex Waugh, this shareware program allows you to keep track of family trees in a graphical format. (RISC Operating System only).
Family Tree Legends
Intelligently links ancestors with SmartMatching and utilizes Real-Time Internet Backup and Publishing.
Web-based genealogy software programming.
Offers genealogy software which works out relationships, displays photos, stores notes and data sources, and also saves charts as web pages and text files.
Java application for storing, browsing and plotting genealogical information. Reads FTML, Gedcom and CSV file formats. Plots both trees and timelines.
Pfat Daddy's Web Site
Home of Origin's software for recording your family tree.
Windows program to document genealogical research. Creates hyperlinked Adobe PDF files from GEDCOMs, text files, images, and other user input.
Full-featured Windows genealogy program by FormalSoft. Includes family history reports, multimedia support, research tools, and is capable of generating web sites from data.
Spansoft - Kith and Kin Genealogy Software
SQL-based program for software package for storing, interrogating and documenting family trees.
Genealogy software for Palm OS handheld computers. Features include importing from or exporting to a GED file, sorting, filtering, Soundex support, ancestor trees, and descendant trees.
Family Historian User Group Portal
Web portal for users of Family Historian software.
Genealogy themed web browser that automatically finds genealogy links, resources, directories, searchable databases and other genealogy related websites.
Leaf's of the Family Tree
Database software which shows family tree relationships by century, focusing upon any one family member.
Legacy Family Tree
Popular full-featured family history software available for free by download.
Open source genealogy program that runs on UNIX, Linux and Windows.