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Glossary

 

Accession: 1. The act of transferring legal and physical control of records and papers to the archives or records centre.
  2. The materials which have been transferred to the archives.
   
Acquisition: The act of obtaining records for the archives, through donations, transfers, loans, or purchase.
   
Adoption: The legal act of permanently placing a child with a parent or parents other than the birth parents. Adoption results in the severing of the parental responsibilities and rights of the biological parents and the placing of those responsibilities and rights onto the adoptive parents. After the finalization of an adoption, there is no legal difference between biological and adopted children. Subscribe to adoptive families magazines for the latest legalties of adoption. Registers of adopted children commence in 1927 and their indexes can be seen at St Catherine’s House.
   
Appraisal: The act of determining the worth of records and papers to either the creator or the archives based on primary values, such as their administrative, legal, or financial usefulness, or secondary values, such as their historical, informational, evidential, and research values.
   
Apprenticeship: A traditional method of training a new generation of skilled crafts practitioners.

Apprentices build their careers from apprenticeships. Most of their training is done on the job while working for an employer who helps the apprentices learn their trade.

Ancestry: Ancestors are the descendants of one individual or can mean the inherited properties shared with others of your bloodline.
   
Archives: 1. The non current records of an individual, organization, or institution kept for their continuing value.
  2. The agency or institution responsible for the care of archival materials.
  3. The building or other repository housing archival records. Private papers are sometimes referred to as manuscripts.
   
Archivist: The person responsible for caring for historical materials in the archives, including acquisition, appraisal, accessioning, arrangement, description, conservation, reference services, and public relations activities.
   
Baptism: Religious rite signifying (for Christians) admission to the church, generally accompanied by name-giving (i.e. christening). The two works are very often used interchangeably.
   
Calendar: A chronological listing of individual documents, identifying writer, recipient, date, place, and summary of content. Calendars are rarely produced and are not recommended archival practice.
   
Catalogue: 1. To organize information about records according to a specific classification system, such as subject, author, date, or place.
2. A group of cards, papers, or other media organized according to a specific classification system.
   
Census: A Census is a survey of all people and households in the country. It provides essential information from national to neighbourhood level for government, business, and the community.
   
Civil Registration: The requirement to register a birth, marriage or death came into effect on 1 July 1837 in England and Wales. The Indexes of all registrations since that date are open to inspection by the public at St Catherine’s House, in London.
Court of the Petty Sessions: Meetings of local justices to deal with minor offences.
Court of the Quarter Sessions: A periodic court held in each county and county borough in England and Wales until 1972, when together with the Assize courts they were abolished by the Courts Act 1971 and replaced by a single permanent Crown Court of England and Wales. The Quarter Sessions derive their name from the fact that they were required by a statute of 1388 to be held at least four times a year. These were later settled as Epiphany, Easter, Midsummer and Michaelmas sessions.
   
Curate: Usually the vicar’s or rector’s assistant.
   
Divorce: The dissolution of marriage meaning the ending of a marriage before the death of either spouse.
   
Donation: A permanent gift to the archives from an individual or organization.
Dower: A provision for support during life (particularly for the widowhood period) accorded by law to a wife surviving her husband.
   
Dowry / Endowment: A dowry (also known as trousseau) is a gift of money or valuables given by the bride's family to that of the groom to permit their marriage.
Electoral Register (or Electoral Roll): A listing of all those registered to vote in a particular area. The register facilitates the process of voting, helps to prevent fraud and is used to select people for jury duty.
   
Enumeration: The money, land or estate that the female brought to a relationship on the day of her marriage.
   
Estate Records: Usually vast collections of records which include many property deeds. Very useful for the family historian as many of our ancestors worked as servants or labourers on the estates of the landed gentry or nobility.
   
Executor (male) or executrix (female): A legal term referring to a person named by a maker of a will, or nominated by the testator, to carry out the directions of the will. Typically the executor is the person responsible for offering the will for probate, although it is not absolutely required that he or she do so.
   
Family Tree: A chart used in genealogy to show the family connections between individuals, consisting of the individuals' names (usually accompanied by dates, and often also places and occupations).
   
Felony/felonies: A serious crime which originally meant the offender forfeiting goods if convicted.
   
Finding aid: Any descriptive item, created by the archives or the creating agency, that identifies the scope, contents, and significance of records.
   
Freehold: Outright ownership of property.
   
Genealogy: 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.
   
Gypsies: Known as ‘travellers’, references to the gypsies can occasionally be seen in parish registers especially in burial registers. Gypsies live semi-sedentary lives and tracing gypsy ancestry can be difficult.
   
Hectare: A hectare (symbol ha) is a unit of area, equal to 10,000 square meters, commonly used for measuring land area.
   
I.G.I (International Genealogical Index): A worldwide index of over 200 million names created by the Church of Jesus Christ and Latter Day Saints (Mormons). The British Isles is divided into England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Channel Islands and Isle of Man, and then by county. Most British entries are baptism and marriages from parish registers from the 1530s to the late 19th century.
   
Illegitimacy: A term in common use for the condition of being born of parents who were not validly married to one another; the legal term was bastardy.
   
Intestacy: A person who dies without leaving a will is said to have died ‘intestate’. Before the present century many people died without making a will and their goods were divided between their children or taken by the surviving partner. If no property was owned, no legal process was involved.
   
Index: 1. To list names, subjects, or other information alphabetically.
  2. A finding aid in paper, card, or other form which contains alphabetically organized information about holdings in the archives, based on subject, author, chronological, or geographical categories.
 
   
Item: The smallest unit of archival material, such as the individual letter, report, photograph, or reel of film.
   
Larceny: Theft of goods. Grand Larceny was the theft of goods over the value of 12 pence, Petty Larceny was the theft of goods less than 12 pence.
   
Leasehold: The leasing of a property from the owner, even though this may be a lease for a lifetime or for longer periods like 99 or 999 years
   
Lord Lieutenant: An officer appointed by the crown for each county. His duties included maintaining a trained and ready militia, and looking after the county's official records. These duties are now largely ceremonial.
   
Manuscripts: Unpublished handwritten or typed documents in archives. Manuscripts are usually defined as the personal papers of individuals or private groups as opposed to the records of a business, government, or other institution.
   
Map: A representation of all or part of the surface of the earth (or other planet or body) identifying its geographical, political, or physical features.
   
Marriage Banns: Commonly known simply as "the banns", (from an Old English word meaning "to summon") are the public announcement in a parish church that a marriage is going to take place between two specified persons.
   
Monumental Inscriptions: An inscription, typically carved in stone, on a grave marker or memorial plaque. The purpose of monumental inscriptions is to serve as memorials to the dead. Those on gravestones are normally placed there by members of the deceased’s family.
   
Nonconformist: A term used after the Act of Uniformity 1662 to refer to an English subject belonging to a non-Christian church or any non-Anglican church. It may also refer more narrowly to such a person who also advocated religious liberty. The term is also applied retrospectively to earlier English Protestants (such as Puritans and Presbyterians) and later Congregationalists, Baptists, Methodists, Quakers, Unitarians, and members of the Salvation Army.
   
Parish: A parish is a type of administrative subdivision. Originally the parish was the area within the responsibility of a parson, to whom tithes and other ecclesiastical dues were paid.
Parish Records: A parish register is a book, normally kept in a parish church, in which details of baptisms, marriages and burials are recorded.
   
Patronymics: A patronymic, or patronym, is a component of a personal name based on the name of one's father.
   
Personal property: In the common law systems personal property may also be called chattels. It is distinguished from real property, or real estate.
   
Poor Law: The system for the provision of social security in operation in the United Kingdom from the 16th century until the establishment of the Welfare State in the 20th century. It was made up of several Acts of Parliament and subsequent amendments which offering help and shelter to the poor in society.
   
Probate: The legal process of settling the estate of a deceased person; specifically, distributing the decedent's property. In England and Wales, Ireland (N. and Eire) and Commonwealth countries, probate is obtained by executors of a will while Letters of Administration are granted where there are no executors.
   
Oral history: The aural record or written transcript of a planned and recorded oral interview.
   
Records centre: A facility separated either physically or administratively from the archives, used to store and provide reference service for semi-active and inactive records of the creating agency pending the ultimate disposition of the material.
   
Records management: The act of controlling the creation, use, and disposition of records created by an office or agency. Records management helps to improve efficiency in the office, ensure the regular transfer of valuable records to a records centre, and control the regular disposal of records no longer worth keeping.
   
Repository: A place where archival materials are housed.
   
Series: Records or groups of records arranged in accordance with a particular filing system or maintained as a unit because of their relationship to one another. Series may be organized by original order, subject, function, or type of material.
   
Sound recording: Aural information stored on discs, magnetic tape, cylinders, or other media.
   
Source, Primary: A document or other source of information that was created at or near the time being studied, often by the people being studied. In this sense primary does not mean superior (it refers to creation by the primary players.)
   
Source, Secondary: Secondary sources interpret and investigate primary source material. They provide discussion and commentary of the original, first hand primary source. Secondary sources are usually written well after the event or research has occurred.
   
St Catherine’s House Index: The records of civil registration of post-1837 births, marriages and deaths in England and Wales that are held by the General Register Office (St Catherine's House) are not available to the public, though individual certificates can be purchased. What is available, including on microfiche or microfilm is a set of indexes to these records.
   
Transfer: The administrative and physical movement of records from one agency or place to another, usually from the creating body to the archives.
   
Vestry: This was the governing body of the parish. There were two main kinds being the Select Vestries (or Close Vestries) and Open Vestries. The former were not elected by parishioners but perpetuated by the co-option of new members. The Latter were virtually general meetings of all the parishioners; they often proved unsatisfactory and were replaced in some cases by an elected Parish Committee.
   
Widow(er): A person who has lost their husband (or wife) following a death.
   
Workhouse: A publicly maintained facility for the support and housing of dependent or needy persons. In Victorian times, poverty was seen as a dishononouring, guilty state, justifying a rather uncharitable treatment, known from the Dickensian portrayal of a dehumanized regime resembling a Reformatory (children could also be kept there, with their family or alone), or rather penal labour, as the poor could be put to hard, manual labour and were subject to physical punishment.


 

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