Every field of study has its own jargon. The people who work in the same field often use abbreviations for words as a shorter way of writing something. Those abbreviations might be unrecognizable to those who aren’t in that line of work. Here is a list of some of the important genealogy abbreviations that you should know.
a.k.a. – stands for “also known as”. It means that a person was known by more than one name. Some of those names could have been a nickname or an alias.
The a.k.a. abbreviation does not necessarily mean that your relative was engaged in illegal activity. Some people changed their names after they immigrated to America. Female relatives may have also been known by their maiden names. The a.k.a. abbreviation is a clue about what names to search that may reveal more about your ancestor.
The letter b – The letter b, and the letter B, are both used in genealogy abbreviations. They do not mean the same thing! A small case b. (with a period after it) is an abbreviation for “born”. You may see this on documents that note the birth date of an ancestor, or on an ancestor’s gravestone. A capitol letter B (with no period after it) is an abbreviation for black. It indicates the race of a person. You may see this abbreviation on census data.
The letter d – A small case letter d. (with a period after it) is an abbreviation for “died”. You might see this abbreviation on documents that note the date an ancestor died, on cemetery records, or scrawled next to your ancestor’s name in an old family bible.
dec’d – This abbreviation stands for “deceased”. You might see this in an ancestor’s obituary. Describing a person as “deceased” or as “the deceased” might seem more polite than using the word “dead”.
div. – This abbreviation stands for “divorced”. If you find this abbreviation next to an ancestor’s name, it could be a clue that there are ancestors that you have yet to discover. Your ancestor was once married to someone. Did those two people have children before they divorced? Suddenly, you have a brand new branch of the family tree to research.
fam. – This abbreviation stands for “family”. The amusing thing about this one is that people who are not genealogists have started using it on social media is if it were a word (and not an abbreviation). This can be seen on Twitter, where people have a limited amount of characters in which to express themselves.
gdn. – This abbreviation stands for “guardian”. A guardian is a person who has been appointed by a court to take care of a minor child, or to take care of an adult who has been declared incompetent and who needs assistance in managing his or her personal affairs.
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