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abstract: A brief overview or summary of what a document or Web site contains.

Adjutant General's report: Published account of the actions of military units from a particular state during a war.

adoption: To legally be declared part of a family into which you were not born.

Ahnentafel: A well-known genealogical numbering system. Ahnentafel is a method of numbering that has a mathematical relationship between parents and children. The word itself means ancestor and table in German; also referred to as the Sosa-Stradonitz System of numbering.

albumen print: A type of photograph that was produced on a thin piece of paper coated with albumen and silver nitrate and usually mounted on cardboard; typically taken between 1858 and 1910.

allele: The form a gene takes which drives human characteristics such as eye color.

ambrotype: A type of photograph that was printed on thin glass and usually had a black backing; typically taken between 1858 and 1866.

America Online: A popular commercial Internet service provider.

Americanized: The process of changing one's surname (last name) to make it easier to pronounce or as the result of a misspelling on a record when an immigrant entered the United States.

ancestor: A person from whom you are descended.

ancestor chart: A chart that runs horizontally across a page and identifies a primary person (including that person's name, date and place of birth, date and place of marriage, and date and place of death), his/her parents, and then each of their parents, and so on until the chart runs off the page. Usually called a pedigree chart.

ancestral file: A database created and maintained by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, with millions of names available in Family Group Sheets and Pedigree charts; part of the FamilySearch collection of CD-ROMs, which are accessible at Family History Centers. See also Family History Center and Family History Library.

archive: A physical location where historical documents and records are stored.

autosomal DNA: DNA that consists of 22 chromosomes that are non-sex specific chromosomes found in the cell nucleus.

banns: See marriage banns.

baptismal certificate: A certificate issued by a church at the time of baptism; sometimes used to approximate a birth date in the absence of a birth certificate.

bases: Also called nucleotides. Rungs of the DNA ladder that hold the molecule together. There are four types (adenine, guanine, cytosine, and thymine).

bibliography: A list of books or other materials that were used in research; also a list of books or other materials that are available on a particular topic.

biographical sketch: A brief written account of a person's life.

biography: A detailed written account of a person's life.

birth certificate: A legal record stating when and where a person was born.

blog: An abbreviated name for a Web log, which is an online journal or log of the author's interests and activities.

blogging: The act of recording your thoughts, opinions, news, or research findings in a Web log.

bounty land: Federal land given to a person in exchange for military service or some other civic service.

Brick Wall Syndrome: A situation when you think you have exhausted every possible way of finding an ancestor.

browser: See World Wide Web browser.

Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands: Established in 1865, the bureau had programs to assist ex-slaves after the American Civil War. Also called Freedmans Bureau.

cabinet card: A larger version of the carte-de-visite photograph; typically taken between 1865 and 1906.

Canon Code: A code that explains the bloodline relationship in legal terms by identifying how many degrees of separation (or steps) exist between two people related by blood. Canon law counts only the number of steps from the nearest common ancestor of both relatives.

carte-de-visite: A type of photograph that was a small paper print mounted on a card; collections were usually bound together in photo albums. Typically taken between 1858 and 1891.

CD-ROM: Acronym for Compact Disc-Read Only Memory; used in your computer's compact disc drive. A CD-ROM stores large amounts of information (including multimedia) that can be retrieved by your computer.

cells: Basic building blocks of the human body.

census: The counting of a population undertaken by a government.

census index: A listing of people who are included in particular census records, along with references indicating where you can find the actual census records.

census return: The record/form on which census information is collected. Also called a census schedule.

census schedule: Another term for a census return form.

charter: A formal or informal document that defines the scope of a newsgroup.

chromosome: The container that holds the strands of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA); each chromosome has a different set of instructions and serves a different purpose.

cite: To name the source of some information and provide reference to the original source.

Civil Code: A code that explains the bloodline relationship in legal terms by identifying how many degrees of separation (or kinship steps) exist between two people related by blood; civil law counts each step between two relatives as a degree.

civil records: Government documents that contain information on the civic duties of your ancestors, proceedings of municipal governments, or any other records of your ancestors' interaction with the government; often found in local and state archives or courthouses.

civil registration: Primary record of a vital event in life: birth, death, or marriage; for the most part, originals are kept by local governments. Also called vital records in the United States and Canada.

compiled genealogy: An online or print publication of one's genealogical findings. It can be a traditional narrative or a lineage-linked database.

comprehensive genealogical index: A Web site that identifies a large number of other genealogical sites containing information on a number of families, locations, or a variety of other genealogy-related subjects.

conscription: Also called draft; this is the act of enrolling men for compulsory service in the military.

cookies: Pieces of information that are sent to your computer by other computers when you visit certain Web pages. Generally, cookies are used for navigation purposes or by commercial sites that want to rotate banner advertisements for you so you don't get tired of the same old advertisement.

copyright: Copyright is the exclusive right of a creator to reproduce, prepare derivative works, distribute, perform, display, sell, lend, or rent his/her creations.

county clerk: The clerk of the county court that records or maintains records of transactions and events in that county. Sometimes called the county recorder.

cyber society: A genealogical or historical society that exists only on the Internet.

cyberspace: A slang term for the Internet.

daguerreotype: A type of photograph that required a long exposure time and was taken on silver-plated copper; typically taken between 1839 and 1860.

database: A collection of information that is entered, organized, stored, and used on a computer.

death certificate: A legal record stating when and where a person died.

declaration of intent: A sworn statement by a person who intends to become a naturalized citizen of the United States.

deed: A document that records the transfer of ownership of a piece of property or land.

deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA): Part of your molecular structure that determines your characteristics.

descendant: A person who descended from a particular ancestor.

descendant chart: A chart that contains information about an ancestor and spouse (or particular spouses if there was more than one), their children and their spouses, grandchildren and spouses, and so on down the family line; usually formatted vertically on a page like a list.

diary: A book containing one's innermost thoughts and findings in life.

digest mode: An option for receiving postings to some mailing lists in which several messages are batched together and sent to you instead of each message being sent separately.

digital camera: A camera that captures images to computer memory instead of to film, and then downloads the images to your computer.

digitized record: A copy or image of a record that has been made using electronic means.

directory: A collection of information about individuals who live in a particular place.

divorce decree: Decision and document that legally ends a marriage.

download: Getting a file (information or a program) to your computer from another computer.

draft: Also called conscription; this is the act of enrolling men for compulsory service in the military.

electronic mail: Messages sent from one person to another electronically over the Internet. Also called e-mail.

e-mail: Short for electronic mail.

emigrant: A person who leaves or moves away from one country to settle in another country.

emoticons: Graphics created by combinations of keys on the keyboard to express an emotion within a message.

enumeration district: The area assigned to a particular enumerator of the census.

enumerator: A person who collected details on individuals during a census. estate: The assets and liabilities of a person who dies.

family association: An organized group of individuals who are researching the same family.

family association site: A Web site that's designed and posted by an organization devoted to researching a particular family.

Family Group Sheet: A summary of a particular family, including biographical information about a husband, wife, and their children.

family history: The written account of a family's existence over time.

Family History Center: Local branches of the Family History Library.

Family History Library: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints' main library in Salt Lake City, Utah. The Family History Library has the world's largest collection of genealogical holdings, including print sources and microfilmed records, as well as records and other information shared by genealogical researchers worldwide.

Family History Library Catalog: A listing of records (books, films, microfiche, CDs, cassette tapes, videos, and microfilms) available at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah; part of the FamilySearch collection of CD-ROMs, which are accessible at Family History Centers.

Family Outline report: A list of the descendants of a particular ancestor.

Family Tree Maker: A popular genealogical database.

family reunion: A gathering of people who share ancestors.

FAQ: Acronym for Frequently Asked Questions.

FHC: Acronym for Family History Center.

FHL: Acronym for Family History Library.

flame: A verbal (written) attack online.

forum: A subject-specific area where members post messages and files.

fraternal order: A service club or organization of persons.

Freedman's Bureau: Abbreviated name for the Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands.

Freedman's Savings and Trust Company: Established in 1865, this was a bank for ex-slaves.

freeware: Software that you usually obtain and use for free by downloading it off the Internet.

Frequently Asked Questions: A Web page or message posted to a mailing list or newsgroup that explains answers to the most-asked questions to the particular Web site, mailing list, or newsgroup. Usually serves as a starting point for people new to a site or resource.

gazetteer: Geographical dictionary that provides information about places.

GEDCOM: Acronym for GEnealogical Data COMmunication.

gene: A section of a chromosome that contains specific sequences of information that determine a particular inheritable characteristic of a human.

genealogical database: Software in which you enter, store, and use information about ancestors, descendants, and others relevant to your genealogy.

Genealogical Data Communication: The standard file format for exporting and importing information between genealogical databases; intended to make data translatable between different genealogical software programs so you can share your family information easily. Also called GEDCOM.

genealogically focused search engine: A program that indexes the full text of Web sites that are of interest and value to genealogists, and allows you to search the index for particular keywords.

GENDEX: An index of online genealogical databases that comply with the GEDCOM converted to HTML indexing format.

genealogical society: An organized group that attempts to preserve documents and history for the area in which the society is located; often a genealogical society has a second purpose, which is to help its members research their ancestors.

genealogy: The study of ancestors, descendants, and family origins.

genome: Complete set of instructions for how a cell will operate.

geographic-specific Web site: A Web site that has information pertaining to a particular locality (town, county, state, country, or other area).

geographical information systems (GIS): Software that allows you to create maps based upon layers of information.

glass-plate negative: A type of photograph made from light-sensitive silver bromide immersed in gelatin; typically taken between 1848 and 1930.

global positioning service (GPS): A satellite system that receives and sends signals to a receiver enabling the person controlling the receiver to determine his/her exact geographical coordinates.

haplogroup: A grouping of several similar haplotypes.

haplotype: Set of results of markers for a particular individual.

Helm Online Family Tree Research Cycle: A five-phase research model that explains the ongoing process of genealogical research.

Henry System: A widely used and accepted genealogical numbering system, it assigns a particular sequence of numbers to the children of a family's progenitor and to subsequent generations.

hierarchy: In terms of a newsgroup, a hierarchy is the major grouping to which a newsgroup belongs; for example, soc.genealogy.computing belongs to the soc hierarchy.

historical society: An organized group that attempts to preserve documents and history for the area in which the society is located.

home page: The entry point for a World Wide Web site.

HTML: Acronym for HyperText Markup Language.

HyperText Markup Language: The programming language of the World Wide Web. HTML is a code that's translated into graphical pages by software called a World Wide Web browser.

IGI: Acronym for International Genealogical Index.

immigrant: A person who moves into or settles in a country.

immigration record: A record of the entry of a person into a specific country where he or she was not native-born or naturalized.

index: A list of some sort. An index can be a list of Web sites, types of records, and so on.

interface: An online form or page.

interlibrary loan: A system in which one library loans a book or other material to another library for a person to borrow or use.

International Genealogical Index: A list of births and marriages of deceased individuals reflected in records collected by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The International Genealogical Index (also called IGI) is part of the FamilySearch collection of CD-ROMs, accessible at Family History Centers.

Internet: A system of computer networks joined together by high-speed data lines called backbones.

Internet service provider: A company or other organization that provides people with access to the Internet through a direct connection or dial-up connection. Also called ISP.

intestate: The estate status of a person who died without leaving a valid will. ISP: Acronym for Internet service provider. junk DNA: A non-coding region of a DNA strand.

kinship report: A list of family members and how they relate directly to one particular individual in your database; usually kinship reports include the Civil Code and Canon Code for the relationship to the individual.

land grant: Permission to purchase land or a gift of land in exchange for military service or other civic service.

land patent: A document that conveyed the title of a piece of land to a new owner after that person met required conditions to own the land.

land record: A document recording the sale or exchange of land; most land records are maintained at a local level where the property is located.

lineage-linked database: A database that is organized by the relationships between people about whom information is stored in the tables.

listowner: A person who oversees a mailing list.

listserv: A software program for managing electronic mailing lists.

locus: The specific location of a marker on a chromosome. Plural is loci.

lurking: Reading messages that others post to a mailing list or newsgroup without posting any messages of your own.

maiden name: The surname with which a woman is born; sometimes reflected as née on records and documents.

mail mode: The method for mailing lists in which each message is sent to you separately as it's posted.

mailing list: An e-mail exchange forum that consists of a group of people who share common interests; e-mail messages posted to the list come directly to your e-mail in full-format (mail mode) or digest mode; the list consists of the names of everyone who joins the group. When you want to send a message to the group, you post it to a single e-mail address that subsequently delivers the message to everyone on the list.

manumission papers: Documents granting slaves their freedom.

marker: A sequence of DNA at a specific location on a chromosome.

marriage banns: A proclamation made in front of a church congregation expressing one's intent to marry.

marriage bond: A financial contract guaranteeing that a marriage was going to take place; usually posted by the groom and another person (often the father or brother of the bride).

marriage certificate: A legal document certifying the union of two individuals.

marriage license: A document granting permission to marry from a civil or ecclesiastical authority.

maternal: Relating to the mother's side of the family.

microfiche: A clear sheet that contains tiny images of documents, records, books, and so on; you must read it with a microfiche reader or other magnifying equipment.

microfilm: A roll of clear film that contains tiny images of documents, records, books, and so forth; you must read it with a microfilm reader.

military index: A list of those killed in the Korean and Vietnam Wars; part of the FamilySearch collection of CD-ROMs, which are accessible at Family History Centers.

mitochondrian: The power plant of a cell; sits outside the nucleus and contains its own genome.

modem: A piece of equipment that allows your computer to talk to other computers through a telephone or cable line; modems can be internal (inside your computer) or external (plugged into one of your computer's serial ports or card).

moderator: A person who determines whether a post to a newsgroup or mailing list is appropriate, and if so, posts it.

mortgage: Legal agreement to repay money borrowed with real property as collateral.

muster record: A type of military pay record reflecting who was present with a military unit at a particular time and place.

mutation: A difference in the number of repeats within a marker.

naturalization: The official process of becoming a citizen or subject of a particular country in a manner other than birth in that country.

naturalization record: The legal document proving one is a naturalized citizen.

netiquette: Simple guidelines for communicating effectively and politely on the Internet.

networking site: A Web site intended to help people find other people with the same interests, talents, backgrounds, and locations.

newbie: A person who is new to the Internet.

newsgroup: A place to post messages of a particular focus so groups of people at large can read them online; messages are posted to a news server which, in turn, copies the messages to other news servers.

nucleotides: Also called bases. Rungs of the DNA ladder that hold the molecule together. There are four types (adenine, guanine, cytosine, and thymine).

nucleus: The center of a cell which contains the deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA).

obituary: An account of one's death that usually appears in a newspaper or other type of media.

one-name study: A page on the World Wide Web that focuses on research involving one particular surname regardless of the geographic location in which it appears.

online: Gaining access to and using the Internet or something that is available through the Internet.

online database: A collection of tables containing data that is accessible through the Internet.

orphan: An infant or child whose parents are both deceased. In some earlier times and places, a child was considered an orphan if his/her father had died but the mother was still living.

passenger list: Listing of the names of passengers who traveled from one country to another on a particular ship.

paternal: Relating to the father's side of the family.

pedigree chart: A chart that runs horizontally across a page, identifying a primary person (including that person's name, date and place of birth, date and place of marriage, and date and place of death), his/her parents, and then each of their parents, and so on until the chart runs off the page. Sometimes called an ancestor chart.

pension record: A type of military record reflecting the amount of a pension that the government paid to an individual who served in the military; pension records also showed the amount of pension paid to the widow or orphan(s) of such an individual.

personal genealogical site: Another name for a personal Web page that contains information relating to a person's or family's ancestry.

personal Web page: A page on the World Wide Web that was designed and posted by an individual or family. It may also be called a personal genealogical site.

petition for land: An application that your ancestor may have filed for a land grant.

plat map: A map of lots within a tract of land, usually showing the owners' names. Also spelled "platte map."

platinum print: A type of photograph with a matte surface that appeared to be embedded in the paper. Images were often highlighted with artistic chalk, giving the photo a hand-drawn quality; typically taken between 1880 and 1930.

primary source: A document, oral account, photograph, or any other item that was created at the time a certain event occurred; information for the record was supplied by a witness to the event.

probate: Settlement of one's estate after death.

probate records: Types of court records that deal with the settling of an estate upon one's death. Probate records include contested wills and will readings; often the file contains testimonies and the ruling.

professional researcher: A person who will research your genealogy — particular family lines — or obtain copies of documents for you for a fee.

progenitor: The farthest-back ancestor you know about in a particular family line.

query: A research question that you post to a particular Web site, mailing list, or newsgroup so that other researchers can help you solve your genealogical research problems/challenges.

research groups: A group of people who coordinate their research and share resources to achieve success.

robot: A program that travels throughout the Internet and collects information about sites and resources that it comes across. Also called a spider.

RootsMagic: A popular genealogical database.

Roots Surname List: A list of surnames, their associated dates, and locations accompanied by the contact information for persons researching those surnames that is maintained by Also called RSL.

RSL: Acronym for Roots Surname List.

scanner: A device that captures digital images of photographs and documents into your computer.

search engine: A program that searches either a large index of information generated by robots or a particular Web site.

secondary source: A document, oral account, or any other record that was created after an event took place or for which information was supplied by someone who was not an eyewitness to the event.

server: A computer that makes information available for access by other computers.

service record: A type of military record that chronicles the military career of an individual.

shareware: Software that you can try before you pay to license and use it permanently; usually you download shareware off the Internet.

short tandem repeat polymorphisms (STR): Segments of repeating bases in DNA.

shotgun approach: A bad idea; the process of sending mass e-mails to anyone you find with your surname through one of the online white pages sites.

single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP): Differences on a chromosome.

site: One or more World Wide Web pages; also called a Web site.

snail mail: Mail delivered by hand — such as U.S. Mail.

Social Security Death Index: An index of those persons for whom Social Security death claims were filed with the United States government. Although there are a few records in the index that pre-date 1962, most date from 1962 to the present.

Sosa-Stradonitz System: See ahnentafel.

sound card: An internal computer device that enables you to hear the audio features of software or audio files that you download off the Internet.

Soundex: A system of indexing the U.S. federal census that groups names that sound alike but are spelled differently; the Soundex code for a name includes a letter followed by three numbers.

source: Any person or material (book, document, record, periodical, and so on) that provides information for your research.

spam: Unsolicited junk e-mail that tries to sell you something or offers a service.

spider: A program that travels throughout the Internet and collects information about sites and resources it comes across. Also called a robot.

spreadsheet: A worksheet that allows you to arrange data and track in a particular format.

stereographic card: A type of photograph that was paired and rendered a three-dimensional effect when used with a viewer; developed in the 1850s.

subclade: Subgroup of a haplogroup.

subscription database: An online database that is accessible if you subscribe to it.

surname: A last name or family name.

surname marketing plan: Checklist of places and people to contact to effectively inform the right individuals about information that you have to contribute to the genealogy community.

survey: Detailed drawing and legal description of the boundaries of a land parcel.

tax record: A record of any tax paid, including property, inheritance, and church taxes; most taxes were collected at the local level, but some of the records have now been turned over to government archives.

tertiary source: A source of information that is not considered primary nor secondary.

thread: A group of messages with a common subject on a newsgroup.

tintype: A type of photograph that was made on a metal sheet; the image was often coated with a varnish. Typically taken between 1858 and 1910.

tiny tafel: A compact way to show the relationships within a family database. Tiny tafel provides a Soundex code for a surname and the dates and locations where that surname may be found according to the database.

toggling: The process of flipping back and forth between open programs on your computer by using the Alt and Tab keys in Windows or the Application Switcher in Macintosh.

tract book: A book describing the lots within a township or other geographic area.

transcribed record: A copy of the content of a record that has been duplicated word for word.

Uniform Resource Locator: A standard online address provided for resources on the World Wide Web; also called URL.

URL: Acronym for Uniform Resource Locator.

USGenWeb Project: Online project that provides a central resource for genealogical information (records and reference materials) pertaining to counties within states in the United States.

U.S. Colored Troops database: An online database of information on more than 230,000 soldiers of African descent who served in the U.S. Colored Troops; part of the Civil War Soldiers and Sailors System sponsored by the National Park Service.

video-capture board: A device that enables your computer to grab images from your video camera or VCR.

vital record: Primary record of a vital event in life — birth, death, or marriage; for the most part, local governments keep the originals. Often called civil registrations outside the United States.

warrant: A certificate to receive land when your ancestor's petition for a land grant was approved.

Webmaster: A person responsible for creating and maintaining a particular Web site.

Web log: An online journal or log of one's interests and activities.

Web server: A computer that is connected to the Internet that serves up Web pages when you request them using your computer's Web browser.

Web site: One or more World Wide Web pages created by an individual or organization; also called a site.

will: A legal document that explains how a person wishes his/her estate to be settled or distributed upon death.

witness: One who attests that he/she saw an event.

word processor: Software that allows you to write and edit text.

World Wide Web: A system for viewing and using multimedia documents on the Internet; Web documents are created in HyperText Markup Language (HTML) and are read by World Wide Web browser programs.

World Wide Web browser: Software that enables you to view HTML documents on the Internet.

World Wide Web page: A multimedia document that is created in HTML and is viewable on the Internet with the use of a World Wide Web browser.

XML: A specialized computer code, similar to HTML, that uses tags to describe information. The broader purpose of XML is not only to display information, but also to describe the information.

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