In order to organize family information, the family historian needs to learn a few basic terms. This is the second in the series of articles on genealogical definitions.
A family group sheet is a collection of specific facts centered around one family. Major event details such as birth, marriage, military, occupation, residences, death, and burial are given in chronological order. Write a source for every event or fact! The source information is called a citation. Facts without citations are mythology. More on citations will be explained in another article.
Using the family group sheet for Mathew A ARMSTRONG, several basic genealogical terms will be explained. The information is for one family, Mathew A. Armstrong as father, Ellenor [do not correct spelling] as his wife, Nathan N. and Oliver as his children. Other children of this marriage and events will be added to this family chart. If either spouse has more than one family, a separate sheet is compiled for each family. When a child marries, a new family sheet is formed to correspond to the new family.
Citation, documentation – written detailed facts regarding a document, artifact or record
The basic format for genealogical citations is the Chicago Manual of Style. In the family group sheet for Matthew Armstrong, the small superscript numbers refer to citations.
Collateral – descendent from the same common ancestor, not from each other
In this family group sheet example, Nathan and Oliver as brothers are collateral from the same parents, Mathew A. and Ellenor Armstrong. Brothers and sisters of either Mathew or Ellenor are collateral relatives to Mathew and Nathan. In today’s terms, they are aunts and uncles.
Consanguinity – relation by blood of all persons descending from the same common ancestor
In the example, Laura Eleanor is related by blood to Mathew through Nathan. Mary Jane Baker is not related by blood, she is related by her marriage to Nathan. In today’s terms, Mary Jane is a daughter-in-law.
Time line – placing events in order of occurrence by use of documentation and verification of facts
The genealogist needs to place the family group sheet events in a chronological order. This will reveal any discrepancies.
In the Mathew A. Armstrong family group sheet, two different death dates are listed for Nathan. The year 1894 has the citation of a transcribed cemetery book and grave marker photograph. The year 1895 is from an obituary in the Tonica [Illinois] News dated 8 March 1895. The newspaper reads, “Died Feb.27, 1895, at the home of his daughter, Mrs. Kilmer, near Marseilles, N. N. Armstrong, at an advanced age in life.” The obituary is most likely the correct date as it was written closer to the event date.
Suggested websites for genealogical definitions:
Dictionary of Genealogy and Archaic Terms on FamilySearch.org
As questions about these concepts arise during a project, please contact Selma Blackmon for answers.