Genealogy Dictionary


Certified American Lineage Specialist – a certification of competency in genealogy.
Canon Law
A law of the church.
capitation tax
A tax on people. Also called a head tax or poll tax.
A term that came into use after the American Civil War when many Northerners went into the former Confederacy seeking personal gain. Many carried a traveling bag made of carpet (widely popular in the 19th century). Some carpetbaggers became politicians, suppliers to the occupation troops, federal officials, etc. Many meddled in local politics and business and were generally considered to be corrupt.
A designated area of land dedicated to burial of the dead. Most cemeteries are associated with a religious organization though some are established and maintained by a government agency (usually at the local level though there are national cemeteries).
cemetery inventory
A transcribed list of every gravestone inscription found within the cemetery. The inventory may be organized by surname, plot, or per the plat map.
A counting of the people. A periodic, official tally of population, possibly with details as to ages, sexes, occupation, etc. The U. S. Constitution requires a census every ten years, which has been taken on the decade every ten years since 1790. Not all census records have survived or survived complete. Related Topic: The U.S. Census.
Census Index
An organized list of names recorded during a particular census. This list is usually alphabetical though may be by an index code, such as Soundex.
Certified Genealogist.
C. of E.
See Church of England. Might also appear at CofE or COFE.
C. of I.
See Church of Ireland. Also written as CofI or COFI.
Personal property, both animate and inanimate. Slaves were considered to be chattels and could be bought, sold, and inherited.
A serious and often deadly infectious disease of the small intestine. Symptoms include diarrhea and vomiting, and the resulting dehydration can cause death.
Church of England
Officially recognized church in England. The government sanctioned religion for several centuries. Many vital records can be found in the official church records and are equivalent to civil records.
Church of Ireland
Officially recognized church in Ireland as recognized by the English government, then in control of the island. Many vital records can be found in the official church records and are equivalent to civil records. This church follows the Church of England.
About – used to indicate an approximate date or period of time. May be abbreviated as “c” or “ca”.
See Circa.
Page or section reference numbers indicating what part of a source relates to a specific fact. Citations are usually written in embedded in the text (enclosed in parenthesis or square brackets), as footnotes at the end of each page, or as endnotes at the end of the chapter or report. Sources referred to by the citations should be listed in a bibliography at the end of the book.
civil parish
A subdivision of the established church in English controlled lands where the church records are also considered civil records. Specifically, Church of England and Church of Ireland. A marriage, for example, was not considered “legal” unless it was performed in the established church. In Ireland there were RC parishes and civil parishes (C. of I.) that overlapped but only the Church of Ireland records were considered civil records.
A group of related families in the Scottish Highlands. A clan consists of a group of families with the same name or several family
coat of arms
A collection of symbolic devices (emblems) in a defined form identifying a person and his direct descendants. Usually consisting of a shield covered with one or more symbols and colors used to indicate something about the person. The symbols used are defined in heraldry.
A supplement to a will.
collateral ancestor
An ancestor that is not in your direct line of ascent, but of the same ancestral family. A collateral ancestor would be a brother or sister of a direct ancestor. Researching collateral ancestors can be helpful as the other individual may be more well known or better documented.
A coal miner or a coal ship. (occupation)
Common Law
A law which exists through tradition rather than the existence of a specific legal document. Many times used to refer to a Common Law Marriage.
Common Law Marriage
A marriage formed when a man and woman live together openly as husband and wife in the community. The marriage may or may not be established by a pronouncement by the couple to live as husband and wife, but the act of living as such is the proof. Some states recognize a specific period of time (i.e., 5 years) that constitutes an undeclared legal marriage. This status could be very important when one of them died, especially when the husband died without a will.
A term used to describe a person or thing that supported or belonged to the Confederate States of America.
Confederate States of America
A loose organization of states that succeeded from the United State of America in 1861 and fought the U.S. Civil War in an attempt to become a separate nation. The CSA included Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia. Maryland might have joined the CSA except for Union inervention.
A blood relationship exists between two people. The degree of consanguinity refers to how closely the two people are related. This may be a factor when close relatives marry. Related Topic: Relationship Chart.
Transfer property or title to property.
A written instrument (document) that transfers title to property from one party to another. The document is usually called a deed.
Grantor or seller.
Correspondence Log
A chronological log of letters, emails, or questions asked of others. In a Correspondence Log you should list the date the request was sent, name and contact info of the recipient, a short sentence about the question, and if & when the response was received. Browsing through the log later allows the researcher to know what questions have not yet received a response (and, may require a follow up). Logs are usually kept in separate journal books or spiral notebooks, one for each purpose.
A geographically oriented political subdivision for local government. Different countries established counties differently. The Republic of Ireland, for example, subdivides directly to county governments. The United States, being larger, subdivides into states and those states subdivide into counties. Counties are usually divided into towns or (in the eastern U.S.) townships.
county clerk
Common name in the U.S. for a local government official responsible for recording deeds, marriage applications, etc. and maintaining court documents.
Today, this word means the children of your aunts or uncles. Modern usage indicates the degree of the relationship through first cousin, second cousin, first cousin once removed, etc. First cousin is a child of an aunt or uncle. Second cousin is the child of a first cousin… a first cousin once removed also happens to be your second cousin. The term cousin includes all of them.
See Confederate States of America.
The life tenure which, by common law, is held by a man over the property of his deceased wife or children with rights of inheritance who were born during the marriage.

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