Genealogy Definitions and Acronyms

Genealogy, like other disciplines, uses its share of unique terminology, acronyms and shorthand phrases that will be unfamiliar and potentially confusing to beginners. I use them frequently in this website. Since it is not practicable to explain them at each occurence, this is the beginning of a list of common ones that I use and will attempt to add more as I get around to it or the spirit moves me.
TLA
Three-Letter Acronyms. Combination of three letters to mean something else subject to overuse in current society. May also appear as Two-Letter Acronyms. Overuse resulting in a shortage of letters, being expanded to FLA's (Four-Letter Acronyms).

WC
Rootsweb World Connect. Family trees submitted by individual researchers and displayed on the Rootsweb.com Website These are family trees submitted to Rootsweb WorldConnect family tree project.

AWT
Ancestry World Tree. Family trees submitted by individual researchers and displayed on the Ancestry.com Website These were initially submitted to Roots WorldConnect family tree project, were copied by Ancestry.com and are (should be) the same.

LDS
Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, otherwise known as the Mormons. The Church has had an historic interest in genealogy and in preserving relevant records and maintains the world's largest genealogy library in Salt Lake City. They maintain a website with a wealth of genealogical data searchable by name and a catalog of the genealogy library at LDS FamilySearch website. See LDS Family History

FHL
Family History Library. The main library facility operated by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints at Salt Lake City. See LDS Family History

FHC
Family History Centers. Small, local genealogy library facilities operated by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints at Salt Lake City. I believe there are about 3,000 worldwide. See: LDS Family History

FS
LDS "Family Search" Website

AF
Ancestral File. The Ancestral File is a collection of lineage-linked family trees submitted by individuals to the LDS Church and maintained in a common database. I think it began sometime around 1990. Because of its inherent nature and various sources, there are duplicate entries and, in a large number of cases, pervasive errors. New submissions to the Ancestral File have been discontinued, but it is kept in its frozen form online at the LDS FamilySearch Website The Church has reportedly been working on a replacement for a number of years, but no official announcements have been forthcoming.

PRF
Pedigree Resource File. The Pedigree Resource File is (apparently) something of a temporary replacement for the Ancestral File. Individuals submit their lineage-linked family trees in GEDCOM computer format, those trees are collected and then published on CD's which are sold for a very modest fee. Data for all published CD's is indexed on the LDS FamilySearch Website The index will each individual, his/her vital data and parents, but will not list family groups. Individuals can (and have) submit family trees any number of times as they are updated, so there are duplicates on the CD's and in the index.

IGI
International Genealogical Index. The International Genealogical Index (IGI) is effectively an index to primarily birth (christening) and marriage records. The scope of the index is worldwide, but focuses on the United States and the United Kingdom, with strong coverage of Scandanavia and Germany. This index is prepared and maintained by the LDS Church. Initially available only in microfiche, it is now searchable online at the LDS FamilySearch Website

The content of the IGI comes from various sources, including submissions by individual researchers, but most of the index is derived from extractions of original primary documents such as church parish books and civil jurisdiction records. These extractions were prepared under the supervision of the LDS Church. Individual submissions must be regarded only as clues; extractions are more authoritative, although those may contain errors ranging from reading interpretation and transcription to error of the actual underlying document. The IGI record clearly identifies the source, so that information is very important to consider. The IGI is a continuing project and, consequently, does not contain the name of every person ever born but is a very large database and useful source to check. See my Using the IGI with Batch Searchs - Overview

LDS FamilySearch Website

GEDCOM
GEDCOM is an abbreviation for "GEneological Data COMmunications" and is the name given to a standard file format for genealogical information specified by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints ("Mormons") for transmitting or transferring genealogical from one computer system or program to another. A GEDCOM file is a standard text file (ASCII), usually (in MS-DOS) with the extension .GED, which preserves the hierarchtical relationships (i.e. parent-child, aka lineage-linked) in a source genealogy data file. All reputable genealogy programs have the ability to import and export data as GEDCOM files and can export all or selected data, delending on the capabilties of the individual source program. (I believe the current standard level is 5.5, but am not certain.) For more information, just do a Google Search on "Gedcom".

A word of caution: When importing someone else's gedcom file into your genealogy database, either back-up your database or import the gedcom file into a separate, test/temporary database. Examine the results first, before adding to your database, to ensure what you're getting is what you really want.

PAF
Personal Ancestral File. Software provided by the LDS Church for recording family trees. It is available as a totally free download at the Family Search website and is very comparable in features and use to any of the commercial programs. Versions 4 and 5 are available for free download. The primary difference is that Version 4 uses the older database format carried over from Version 3, which was written for DOS. Version 5 can convert version 3/4 databases, but once converted databases are not backward compatible.

SSDI
Social Security Death Index. A computerized list of all deaths reported to the Social Security Administration (SSA). Generally, shows deaths beginning about 1962 although it may not be more complete until the latter 1960's. Also a few earlier deaths may be shown.
GNIS
US Geological Survey Geographic Names Information Service (USGS/GNIS)

is a database of place-names that is maintained by the US Government. It contains virtually all places that exist within the United States and is searchable by various criteria including location (State, county, town, etc.) and geographic type (cemetery, river, populated place, etc.) Note that GNIS uses the term "populated place" as a catch all for various types of places where people live irrespective of legal status such as city, town, village, settlement, bump-in-the-road, etc. In particular, it is especially helpful in geneaological research to find the county where a town is located or locations of cemeteries.

Filson
Filson Historical Society, formerly "The Filson Club" Library and museum of Kentucky history located at Louisville.

HLC
History of Lincoln County Missouri; Goodspeed; 1888.

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