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Genealogy

GENEALOGY

GENEALOGY. Genealogy is an auxiliary branch of history that was first recognized as a professional field of study in 1964 with the formation of the Board for Certification of Genealogists (BCG). Celebration of the U. S. centennial heralded the beginning of solid professional genealogical research and the first amateur craze of the 1880s and 1890s. Although the National Genealogical Society (NGS) was formed in 1903, there were no prescribed standards for professional genealogists until the middle of twentieth century. During the period between World War I and World War II, New England genealogists mounted an exhaustive examination of primary sources, which ultimately led to a scientific methodology for the discipline. In 1940 Dr. Arthur Adams and John Insley Coddington moved to redress the lack of standards with the founding of the American Society of Genealogists (ASG). The ASG appointed a Committee on Standards and Ethics that functioned from the early 1940s to the early 1960s. Although several proposals were received from the committee, they were not acted upon until 1963, when Noel Stevenson recommended that an organization headquartered in Washington, D. C., the BCG, be formed for certification purposes. Dr. Jean Stephenson served as the first president and Milton Rubincam served as chair.

The four major institutes within the United States where genealogists can receive professional training are the National Institute on Genealogical Research (1950), the Samford Institute of Genealogy and Historic Research (1964), the Genealogical Institute of Mid-America (1993), and the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy (1996). Although attending one of these institutes is highly recommended for professional genealogists, it is not required for certification purposes.

High standards were imposed not only upon the certification of genealogists but upon their research methodology as well. New genealogical research was put under a strict test of accuracy and documentation and existing genealogies were reexamined, although this new scrutiny did not greatly enhance the regard of scholarly historians for genealogical research. In his 1975 article, "The Fundamentals of Genealogy: A Neglected But Fertile New Field for Professional Historians?" Jay P. Anglin wrote that

inadequate recognition of the contributions of genealogists unfortunately still persists among a large number of professional historians, for old views of the elite professional genealogists as merely antiquarians and of the discipline as exclusive field for silly and rich eccentrics desirous of social status by finding tenuous ancestral linkages with Europe's illustrious figures are hard to destroy.

While genealogists remain isolated from historians, a reciprocal relationship has developed in the 1990s as more university and college history departments offer introductory genealogy courses as part of their curricula.

Obtaining Certification and Doing Research

The first step toward certification is gaining the knowledge and skills imparted by the BCG Genealogical Standards Manual. Within this manual are seventy-four standards that contribute to the level of credibility in genealogy that are referred to as the Genealogical Proof Standard (GPS), which replaced a concept, "preponderance of the evidence," that BCG had once promoted. In 1997 BCG abandoned that terminology for analyzing and weighing evidence because the board's governing trustees felt that it was confusing. Originally borrowed from the legal system, the term failed genealogists because BCG standards require a higher level of proof than do legal codes. Professional genealogists are certified in three different research categories and/or two teaching categories by an examination of work samples in a portfolio sub-mission. The research categories include Certified Genealogical Record Searcher (CGRS), Certified American Lineage Specialist (CALS), Certified American Indian Lineage Specialist (CAILS), and Certified Genealogist (CG). The teaching categories include Certified Genealogical Lecturer (CGL)and Certified Genealogical Instructor (CGI). Each application is independently evaluated by several judges. Renewal applications every five years confirm that skills are up to date.

Methodology applied in genealogical research at the turn of the twenty-first century is much improved and more sophisticated compared to the sometimes careless and inaccurate compilations of yesteryear. However, both professional and amateur genealogists begin their research with present records and documents, eventually arriving at a solution to their research question by employing reverse chronology. Essentially, genealogists investigate known information for clues that will lead them to solving the research problem. Utilizing the GPS, the researcher completes an exhaustive search of the records, documents findings with complete and accurate source citations, analyzes and correlates the findings, resolves any conflicting information, and writes a soundly reasoned conclusion to the query.

Certified genealogists abide by a Code of Ethics and Conduct that mandates high levels of truth and accuracy in their work, collegiality and honor within the discipline, adherence to the BCG's Standards of Conduct, and protection of the privacy and best interests of the client. They are also bound to protect the public, the consumer, and the profession.

Raising Standards

Donald Lines Jacobus was one of the new generation of professional genealogists who raised the status of genealogy from a hobby to a science. In 1922 Jacobus founded America's premier independent genealogical journal, The American Genealogist (TAG). Fondly regarded as the "dean" of genealogy, Jacobus in the 1930s dispelled the myth that America's first settlers were of prime stock with vivid statistics. He found evidence of disability and other defects among early New England settlers, while remarking that the homogeneity of the population likely resulted in birth defects associated with inbreeding. Jacobus is also noted as the founder of scientific genealogy in the United States and the first inductee to the National Genealogy Hall of Fame in 1986.

Dr. Jean Stephenson was an early proponent and supporter of genealogical education who played a major role in establishing the institutions currently serving the discipline. Although she published several genealogical works, she is remembered for her service to and membership in many organizations and societies, including the ASG, NGS, BCG, the Institute on Genealogical Research, the Samford University Institute of Genealogy and Historical Research, the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution (NSDAR), the American Association for State and Local History, and the Society of American Archivists, among others.

John Insley Coddington's fluency and reading knowledge of several European languages as well as his familiarity with European libraries and archives gave him a distinct edge over other American genealogists. Initially an historian, he found the development of scientific genealogy appealing. Although troubled by the lack of seriousness displayed by genealogists, Coddington—along with Arthur Adams and Meredith Colket—launched an honor society comprised of fifty fellows, the ASG. Chosen on the quality and accuracy of their research, many leading genealogists were members. Upon the death of Jacobus in 1970, Coddington acquired the title "dean" of American genealogists. Known for his advocacy of documentary evidence, he published over two hundred articles in genealogy journals, was an elected a fellow in several genealogy societies, and was a contributing editor to TAG from 1938 until his death in 1991.

James Dent Walker formed an active and viable African American genealogical community when he founded the Afro-American Historical and Genealogical Society in 1977. Employed by the National Archives and Records Administration for thirty years, he served in several positions, but was renowned for his acumen with military and pension records and exhibited an outstanding ability to uncover sources important to African American genealogists. He also aided Alex Haley with the research that became the Pulitzer Prize–winning book, Roots (1976), which spurred African Americans as well as other Americans to search for their ancestors. Walker's contributions are not diminished by the discrediting of Haley's work in the 1990s. Walker is most noted for his ability to uncover the inaccuracy of historical information. While doing research for the NSDAR, which estimated that only five thousand members of minorities (blacks, women, and American Indians)had served in the American Revolution, Walker identified five thousand minorities serving in the New England region alone.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Anglin, Jay P. "The Fundamentals of Genealogy: A Neglected But Fertile New Field for Professional Historians?" Southern Quarterly 13 (1975): 145–150.

Carmack, Sharon DeBartolo. The Genealogy Sourcebook. Chicago: Contemporary Books, 1997.

Doane, Gilbert H., and James B. Bell. Searching For Your Ancestors: The How and Why of Genealogy. 6th ed. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1992.

Latham, William, and Cindy Higgins. How to Find Your Family Roots. Rev. ed. Santa Monica, Calif. : Santa Monica Press, 2000.

Mills, Elizabeth Shown, ed. Professional Genealogy: A Manual for Researchers, Writers, Editors, Lecturers, and Librarians. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 2001.

Stevenson, Noel C. Genealogical Evidence: A Guide to the Standard of Proof Relating to Pedigrees, Ancestry, Heirship, and Family History. Laguna Hills, Calif. : Aegean Park, 1989.

Wright, Raymond S. The Genealogist's Handbook. Chicago: American Library Association, 1995.

RebeccaTolley-Stokes

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Genealogy

Genealogy


Genealogy is traditionally defined as the study of a person's ancestry or the study of one's parental lines going back as far as possible in history. Probably the first recorded "genealogy" is that found in the Book of Numbers in the Bible. During the nineteenth century in the United States, genealogy became associated with membership in particular lineage societies. Only those who could prove they were descended from a particular group of people (e.g., Mayflower passengers, participants in the American Revolution) were eligible for membership in specialized societies.

The first genealogical society with membership open to anyone who wished to search for their ancestry, the New England Genealogical Society in Boston, was formed in 1845 and still exists. The National Genealogical Society, located in Arlington, Virginia, formed in 1903 with a national focus in its library collection, publications, and conferences. The National Archives, in Washington, D.C., and its branch record centers throughout the United States hold the federally generated records for public research. By the late twentieth century, many state and local genealogical societies were established where extensive library collections were made available to anyone who wished to research, sometimes for a small membership fee.

After the first U.S. centennial celebration in 1876, the number of published genealogies (often compiled by sources within a family and not always documented by public records) increased. By 1900, Gilbert Cope in Pennsylvania, Colonel Lemuel Chester and Henry F. Waters from New England, and Donald Lines Jacobus in Connecticut began to set a more professional standard for the study of one's family. The study and publication of family histories increasingly involved the use of original documents, evaluation of evidence such as that used in a court of law, standards for documenting sources, local history, and the areas of sociology, economics, and psychology. No longer was the study of genealogy only associated with exclusive organizations.

The study of genealogy has greatly expanded beyond an interest in only parental lines to include relatives who descend from all family members— brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles—across many generations of a family. The general genealogical principle in tracing one's family is to begin with the present and work backward, one generation at a time, collecting information from all living relatives and learning about the locations in and conditions under which they lived. Once that part of the search is completed, the research turns to a vast array of original source material, such as vital, census, land, probate, court, war, church, cemetery, social security, and employment records in the public domain and printed sources.

The U.S. bicentennial celebration and Alex Haley's Roots (1976), the saga of an American family with both African slave and Irish immigrant roots, have been credited with the burgeoning interest in family history. Genealogy has become an extremely popular hobby, as well as a growing profession in the United States. Genetic research and computer programs to store, retrieve, and analyze information on multiple generations of a family are both growing aspects of genealogical research.

Standard forms for collecting and documenting the family's history include an ancestral chart tracing paternal lines only, a family group sheet that documents all the details of each nuclear family, and the genogram or family chart diagramming a family's structure and process through multiple generations.

Home-study courses are offered by the National Genealogical Society, which also sponsors an annual conference in various locations around the country. Open to the general public, the conferences provide opportunities for beginning, intermediate, and advanced researchers to learn how to do personal research and use various source materials. College courses on researching genealogy are often offered at the community-college level in larger metropolitan areas. A handful of universities, including Brigham Young University, Vermont College of Norwich University, and New College of the University of Alabama, offer degree-granting programs specializing in family or local history.

By far, the single largest collection of original source material for researching families is that held by the Family History Library (FHL), owned and operated by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (the Mormons) in Salt Lake City. The FHL's collection, open to the general public, includes printed and microfilm material from all parts of the world. Hundreds of branch libraries of the FHL are attached to local stakes of the church and provide access to the holdings of the main FHL collection.

Other publicly and privately owned research facilities with large printed and microfilm holdings exist in every region of the country to assist researchers in locating materials of relevance to their families.

The Association of Professional Genealogists, located in Washington, D.C., is the membership organization for professional researchers. Two organizations grant certification or accreditation to professional researchers in the United States: the FHL and the Board for Certification of Genealogists, located in Falmouth, Virginia.


See also:Kinship


Bibliography

bentley, e. p. (1994). the genealogist's address book, 3rd edition. baltimore: genealogical publishing.

doane, g. h. (1992). searching for your ancestors: thehow and why of genealogy, 6th edition. minneapolis: university of minnesota press.

eakle, a., and cerny, j., eds. (1984). the source: a guidebook of american genealogy. salt lake city: ancestry publishing.

eichholz, a., ed. (1992). ancestry's red book: americanstate, county, and town sources, revised edition. salt lake city: ancestry publishing.

greenwood, v. (1990). the researcher's guide to american genealogy, 2nd edition. baltimore: genealogical publishing.

hey, d. (1996). the oxford companion to local andfamily history. new york: oxford university press.


jacobus, d. l. (1968). genealogy as pastime and profession, 2nd edition. baltimore: genealogical publishing.

kemp, t. k. (1990). international vital records handbook. baltimore: genealogical publishing.

wright, r. s. (1995). the geneologist's handbook: modern methods for researching family history. chicago: american library association.

alice eichholz (1995)bibliography revised byjames j. ponzetti, jr.

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genealogy

genealogy (jē´nēŏl´əjē, –ăl´–, jĕ–), the study of family lineage. Genealogies have existed since ancient times. Family lineage was originally transmitted through oral tradition and later, with the invention of writing, was passed on through written records. The genealogies in the Bible probably originated in oral tradition. Ancient Greeks and Romans traced their ancestry to gods and heroes, and traditional tribes often claim descent from animals. Genealogies flourished in the Middle Ages because the development of feudalism made status and the transference of possessions dependent upon the tracing of family lines. To a lesser degree, this condition continues in some countries, as England, to the present day. Examples of English genealogies are the books of Burke, Collins, and others on the peerage.

In the United States, pedigree per se has not been crucial in determining status or in transferring property, but race formerly served as a great social divider (e.g., blacks were formerly enslaved in the South and were later denied their civil rights and prohibited from marrying whites in many states). In more limited situations, genealogy has had a degree of importance in the United States: Some societies limit membership to descendants of a particular group of ancestors; the Mormons collect genealogical information for religious purposes and have established a large Family History Library; and some families keep careful genealogical records and stage periodic reunions.

Since the 18th cent. genealogy has developed into a subsidiary academic discipline, serving sociology, history, medicine, and law. Libraries often have departments of genealogy, where volumes used in genealogical research are kept (e.g., passenger ship lists, immigration records, family genealogies, etc.); many historical societies also have such libraries. Many genealogical materials, such as those compiled by the Mormons, are now available for research on the World Wide Web.

See D. L. Jacobus, Genealogy as Pastime and Profession (2d ed. 1968); T. Bestermann, Family History (1971); V. D. Greenwood, The Researcher's Guide to American Genealogy (1974); G. H. Doane and J. B. Bell, Searching for Your Ancestors (6th ed. 1992).

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genealogy

genealogy, the study of ancestry and family descent, is an indispensable handmaiden of history. Its development reflects a gradual process of democratization as interest moved down the social scale. In post-Roman Britain, it was important for monarchs to claim impressive credentials, however unlikely. Bede insisted that Hengist and Horsa were descended from Woden: Nennius traced Britain back to Aeneas through Brutus. Neither claim was closely argued. In the Middle Ages, genealogy was related to heraldry and of concern largely to the monarchy and nobility, to whom the tracing of the succession, estates, and titles was of great importance. As the status of the gentry improved, their own interest in genealogy kindled. Richard III established the College of Arms in 1484 and from the 15th cent. to 1688 the heralds conducted visitations to confirm or deny claims. The 17th cent. produced in Camden, Dugdale, Ashmole, and Cotton distinguished genealogists and antiquarians. Authors of county histories devoted much space to pedigrees of families, since this would induce the gentry to subscribe to their volumes. Status, rank, and patronage opportunities had rarely been of greater importance and even remote family connections could be of real use. Genealogical investigation was also a powerful motive behind the foundation of many 19th-cent. local history societies, with their libraries and card indexes. The Society of Genealogists was founded in 1911. In the later 20th cent. there was a remarkable growth of interest in tracing family history among ordinary people, using record offices and reference libraries, and assisted by many books and manuals on the subject. As society grew increasingly incoherent and urban life became ever more impersonal, the desire to relate to the past and rediscover one's ancestry grew stronger. See also heraldry.

J. A. Cannon

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genealogy

ge·ne·al·o·gy / ˌjēnēˈäləjē; -ˈal-/ • n. (pl. -gies) a line of descent traced continuously from an ancestor: combing through the birth records and genealogies. ∎  the study and tracing of lines of descent or development. ∎  a plant's or animal's line of evolutionary development from earlier forms. DERIVATIVES: ge·ne·al·o·gist / -jist/ n. ge·ne·al·o·gize / -ˌjīz/ v.

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genealogy

genealogy An important tool in kinship theory and a vital part of the political organization of kinship-based societies. A genealogy is the means of tracing real or fictive kinship links across and between generations.

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genealogy

genealogy XIII. — (O)F. généalogie — late L. geneālogia — Gr. geneālogíā, f. geneā́ race, generation; see -LOGY.
So genealogical XVI, genealogist XVII.

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genealogy

genealogy a line of descent traced continuously from an ancestor. The word is recorded from Middle English and comes via Old French and late Latin from Greek genealogia, from genea ‘race, generation’.

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genealogy

genealogy •haji • algae • Angie •argy-bargy, Panaji •edgy, sedgy, solfeggi, veggie, wedgie •cagey, stagy •mangy, rangy •Fiji, gee-gee, squeegee •Murrumbidgee, ridgy, squidgy •dingy, fringy, mingy, stingy, whingy •cabbagy • prodigy • effigy • villagey •porridgy • strategy • cottagey •dodgy, podgy, splodgy, stodgy •pedagogy •Georgie, orgy •ogee • Fuji •bhaji, budgie, pudgy, sludgy, smudgy •bulgy •bungee, grungy, gungy, scungy, spongy •allergy, analogy, genealogy, hypallage, metallurgy, mineralogy, tetralogy •elegy •antilogy, trilogy •aetiology (US etiology), amphibology, anthology, anthropology, apology, archaeology (US archeology), astrology, biology, campanology, cardiology, chronology, climatology, cosmology, craniology, criminology, dermatology, ecology, embryology, entomology, epidemiology, etymology, geology, gynaecology (US gynecology), haematology (US hematology), hagiology, horology, hydrology, iconology, ideology, immunology, iridology, kidology, meteorology, methodology, musicology, mythology, necrology, neurology, numerology, oncology, ontology, ophthalmology, ornithology, parasitology, pathology, pharmacology, phraseology, phrenology, physiology, psychology, radiology, reflexology, scatology, Scientology, seismology, semiology, sociology, symbology, tautology, technology, terminology, theology, topology, toxicology, urology, zoology • eulogy • energy • synergy • apogee • liturgy • lethargy •burgee, clergy •zymurgy • dramaturgy

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