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Beginning Genealogy Lesson #3
Relationship Terms

DearREADERS,
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 remarry. 

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 generations past!

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.

Old Words Mailing List
http://www.rootsweb.com/~jfuller/gen_mail_general.html#OLD-WORDS 

Happy family tree climbing!
Myrt     :)
DearMYRTLE,
Your friend in genealogy.

 

1995-2005 Pat Richley HOME | Ask | Blog | BookShelf | ContactLessons | Listen | Add to My Yahoo | PodCast media RSS feed | Read | Search | RSS feed
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