Genealogy Lesson #3
As the collection of primary & secondary family history documents
proceeds, you are likely to notice some interesting wording. The phrases we
use currently to describe relationships between people are not necessarily the
definitions used in previous centuries. For instance:
- A husband and wife were thought of as a single entity, so the term
SISTER could mean either sister or sister-in-law.
- IN-LAW could also mean a step child.
- COUSINS could mean anything in a familial relationship OTHER than the
immediate family of parents & children.
- Frequently during the colonial American time
period, NIECES & NEPHEWS were referred to as COUSINS.
- BROTHER & SISTER could denote a religious
association, not a blood relationship.
- SENIOR & JUNIOR didn't always imply father-son relationships, merely
that one was the OLDER of that name in the community or extended family.
- NEPOS is Latin for GRANDSON not nephew.
- MY SON'S NOW WIFE didn't imply a previous marriage. It was used to
protect the estate from being diluted from claims by subsequent wives should this one die and the son
Remember too, that pink USED to be a baby boy's color, and BLUE was for
baby girls - so how we think of things today isn't necessarily the same as in
For Further Reading:
Greenwood, Val. The Researcher's Guide to American Genealogy.
Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing
Company. 1983. It's there for FREE on their main page. You can use Acrobat
Reader to view the pages, and print out those that will help you the most.
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