Talk:Genealogy

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What is that ?[edit]

The pursuit of family history and origins tends to be shaped by several motivations, including the desire to carve out a place for one's family in the larger historical picture, a sense of responsibility to preserve the past for future generations, and a sense of self-satisfaction in accurate storytelling.[1

In french the genealogy is better explain, I am family genealogist, i am outraged, what is the auto-satisfaction ??? stupidty write by a man who do not his genealogy et see that to far...

--Zazoult (talk) 11:33, 16 November 2015 (UTC)Zazoult

Cultural perspective[edit]

I would argue that genealogy (knowledge of decent) is perhaps one of those universals that is shared by all cultures. Its forms are ethnocentric, thus what is "traditional" in one culture, is not in another. For example, the early Greeks, nor the French in 1300 would define "traditional genealogy" same as a 21st century English speaking person using a DNA standard to establish their pedigree. Neither is right or wrong, they each have their own form. --Rcollman (talk) 15:05, 28 September 2008 (UTC)

And what are you trying to suggest for improving this article? ThuranX (talk) 03:33, 30 September 2008 (UTC)
How about a simple mention of the different causes for seeking out a genealogical study? For instance, the Mormon interest in genealogy is mentioned in the article, but not the reasons for it (specifically, that the Mormons are heavy into genealogy primarily because of their beliefs in baptism of the dead as Mormons, not necessarily out of interest in one's family history). The problem with this suggestion being that the possible reasons are numberless. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 72.189.71.175 (talk) 12:19, 4 December 2009 (UTC)

The «Historical background» section of this article is embarrassingly ethnocentric. It seems like genealogy outside of USA isn't worth mentioning. leifbk (talk) 05:14, 20 July 2011 (UTC)

It looks like little has been done to respond to the valid points made by Leifbk back in 2011. I would like to work up some ideas for giving the first couple of sections rather more stature and historical depth, and somewhat more of an international context (not to say validity). To open up discussion, the word "Hobbyist" hits me like a slap in the face - nobody writing the article in the British Isles would use this word - it imparts a really derogatory, sneering tone - almost - "a mere hobbyist". What is wrong with "amateur" which sweetens any negative implications with the consoling thought that it derives from "lover"! I cannot see "hobbyist" even listed as a synonym for "amateur". Manninagh1958 (talk) 20:59, 8 November 2015 (UTC)

As nobody has commented, I have removed "Hobbyist" and replaced with "Amateur" Manninagh1958 (talk) 03:13, 29 July 2016 (UTC)

Further thoughts: are we not overlooking the reputed claims of genealogy/family history to primacy in the leisure-time use of the internet. We need to state and assess these claims quite early in the article. Where can we access the stats?Manninagh1958 (talk) 03:55, 9 November 2015 (UTC)
"Until the late 19th century, family histories were almost exclusively of interest to persons who had obtained their wealth or rank by inheritance". This statement appears to exhibit limited cultural perspective. I am aware of the situation in the areas of Gaelic and Brythonic culture in the British Isles. Here there was a strong traditional interest in and knowledge of family history at all levels of society, probably at its strongest in the period when much of society was illiterate. Title to chiefly titles, land or customary tenancies depended on position in a family structure, and these were major and enduring motives to pass on accurate genealogies. Manninagh1958 (talk) 03:33, 29 July 2016 (UTC)
Agreed. Non-literate societies did, and perhaps do, memorize lineages; either certain people were assigned to memorize or everyone did it. The "Family Bible" that contains birth and death dates must be considered a part of genealogy I'd think, and that tradition probably goes almost back to Gutenberg's day. I agree that the sentence about inherited rank and wealth is too narrow. --Hordaland (talk) 09:17, 29 July 2016 (UTC)
As these comments have not sparked any defence, I have deleted this section. Manninagh1958 (talk) 21:10, 18 August 2016 (UTC)

Stop the edit-warring, please.[edit]

Hordaland (talk) 10:09, 27 October 2008 (UTC)ed

(In Ochtober 2008(see history), there was intense reverting re image, among other things. It calmed down, thankfully.) - Hordaland (talk) 22:36, 21 January 2009 (UTC)

Article needs an illustration at the top[edit]

900-158 Ahnentafel Herzog Ludwig.jpg

This long article needs an illustration at the top. I don't care if it's gramps, paf or something else, but there should be an image. Even a four-generation portrait of some family or other would do -- anybody have one to upload? I spent some time yesterday at Commons trying to find a family tree, pedigree chart or something else suitable. (The nicest pedigrees were for Adolf Hitler and dogs.)

Family tree test1.jpg
Costados de Anselmo Braamcamp Freire.jpg
Gens Caecilia Metella family tree.png

But something like these might be good. The one is even colorful. - Hordaland (talk) 10:09, 27 October 2008 (UTC)

Very colorful adding "Costados de Anselmo Braamcamp Freire" to the article gioto (talk) 06:49, 20 January 2009 (UTC) (try again meant "900-158 Ahnentafel Herzog Ludwig")
Very nice. One should notiNFce that it illustrates a family tree using a real tree in a confusing way: Herzog Ludwig has his "roots" up in the tree with the newer branches and leaves. Is such usage common? I guess such a tree would be more suitable for depicting descendants than ancestors. Lklundin (talk) 09:21, 20 January 2009 (UTC)
Yes, I think such usage is common, at least in the USA and (parts of) Europe. I agree it's not logical, with the oldest roots at the top, but it is common usage. - Hordaland (talk) 20:53, 21 January 2009 (UTC)
It is a great image to use for this page . This type of picture was common in it's usage in time gone by. We tend to use a much plainer but easier to ready type now. --219.90.182.75 (talk) 03:52, 28 February 2009 (UTC)
This type of tree may be coming back, some simplified. FamilySearch.org/tree [1] allows storing graphics and pictures. [2] is also very interesting for sharing and collaborating. Charles Edwin Shipp (talk) 15:21, 28 April 2014 (UTC)

 Done -- The color picture (upper-right here, and in the article) looks great. It shows at first glance the nature of family histories and genealogy. Upon further reflection, it gives the reader deeper meaning on the gravity of ancestry! It's great--THANKS ,!, .!.  :-) -- Charles Edwin Shipp (talk) 15:20, 6 November 2015 (UTC)

Family History Databases[edit]

This link is worth considering as an External link, It contains some unique searchable family history databases (plus is Advert free) FamilyTreeOz.com --219.90.182.75 (talk) 21:36, 27 February 2009 (UTC)

Very interesting indexes .... certainly adds another dimension to finding something a little different about your family history. Based on the links already on this page this one would add similar value--203.122.245.176 (talk) 22:16, 2 March 2009 (UTC)

What else is new? -- Charles Edwin Shipp (talk) 17:46, 28 April 2014 (UTC)

Discussion re external Links[edit]

I thought the discussion page was to discuss inclusion of relevant content. Not sure why ThuranX removed comment from this discussion without bothering to elaborate within the discussion page (they makred it as spam, yet failed to discuss why). --219.90.182.75 (talk) 03:48, 28 February 2009 (UTC)

Patronymics[edit]

Am I missing something here? My recent edit was reverted. The name Marga Olafsdottir is cited as an example of a patronymic name. This is surely however a matronym not a patronymic name, meaning that Marga is Olaf's daughter. Unsigned comment by user:Dahliarose, 15:29 (UTC), 8 April 2009

It's a patronym because Olaf is Marga's father - Marga Helgasdottir would be a matronym, since the name would be taken from her mother, Helga. Shimgray | talk | 15:35, 8 April 2009 (UTC)
Shimgray is correct here. The prefixes patro and matro refer to the gender of the parent, not of the child.
Otherwise, Dahliarose, please remember to sign talk page comments by writing ~ 4 times in a row or by clicking on the icon "Your signature with timestamp" above. - Hordaland (talk) 15:57, 8 April 2009 (UTC)

Genealogy wiki project(s)[edit]

I'm a newbie at this and have a question that may well have been covered in the archives. Are there any wiki-based genealogy projects, and where are they? I'm not talking about discussion forums, but the collaborative creation of one big international online family tree, using wiki software. I know it would be frought with lots of dangers and pitfalls, but think of the potential. Problems and pitfalls exist to be overcome. Just look at this project. Who would have dreamed it could come this far? If this gets off-topic, just come to my talk page. -- Brangifer (talk) 19:34, 30 August 2009 (UTC)

This is off topic, but a number are already linked at the bottom of hte article. ThuranX (talk) 21:54, 30 August 2009 (UTC)
It's not as off-topic as you might think. The reason I requested that off-topic matters be taken to my talk page was because it might get into personal advice, and that would indeed be off-topic. I took another look through those links and did find one (Rodovid) that attempts to do what I was asking about. I'm hoping there are more, and maybe they can be linked. Can anyone provide more information? -- Brangifer (talk) 05:57, 31 August 2009 (UTC)

One of the better wiki genealogy sites is WeRelate.org. It's based on MediaWiki software, is a nonprofit, and takes an approach that is similar to Wikipedia. -R. S. Shaw (talk) 07:16, 5 August 2012 (UTC)

Research tools[edit]

A great deal of research has been done by genealogists, librarians, historians and social scientists on some of the topics--such as the where records are located, how to use them, different kinds of errors in old records, and the definitions over time of different occupations. I added the books and articles to the reading list and linked inline to the sections as appropriate. I've added back to the Genealogy article valuable resouces for our readers. As a former employee of a major genealogical library (the Newberry), I have seen firsthand the frustrations of people who are unfamiliar with books or articles that would solve many of their problems. This is especially important for dealing with genealogical resources in other countries. The titles furthermore demonstrate the wide range of genealogy today, especially as it links to social science.Rjensen (talk) 08:27, 3 January 2010 (UTC)

One editor seems unfamiliar with the citation system and keeps wanting to revert. A standard practice in Wikipedea is to use the footnotes to refer to the full citation in the "Further reading". Thus Steckel (1991) refers to Steckel, Richard H. "The Quality of Census Data for Historical Inquiry: A Research Agenda," Social Science History, Vol. 15, No. 4 (Winter, 1991), pp. 579-599 in the Further Reading--and indeed there the article is hot linked to the first page of the actual journal article, which is in JSTOR. This method is approved in Wikipedia:Citing sources. I'll put the cites in the footnotes to show how important they are. Rjensen (talk) 07:58, 6 January 2010 (UTC)
This is a sloppy, if common, practice. Further Readings can, may, and do change, with relatively little regard to the rest of the article. Citations generally only change when the content changes. As such, I see no good reason to not provide a full and proper citation, which is more durable than the Further Readings lists. Finally, I find your repeated use of the Argument From Authority/Special Knowledge to be disingenuous and weak.
I gave clear reasons for NOT turning this article back into a gigantic list, which is a problem it had before. Long ago, this article had long lists; it was decided to pare back to the essentials. It seems to have strayed back again, and I am simply trying to keep it from returning to the wilderness. I suggest, seriously, that instead, you turn your attention to the Wikibook project for this subject, which is far more oriented to the 'how-to' article you want to create.ThuranX (talk) 04:49, 7 January 2010 (UTC)
The problem solved by using the best resources available is more and better klnowledge and giving users an access point to scholarly journals have in-depth coverage of critical points, such as the reliability of data in censuses and birth registers, and the resources available in libraries and archives. The "wilderness" is a place without good sources. As for the argument from authority, that is somewhat better than the argument from ignorance and blanking. Rjensen (talk) 05:01, 7 January 2010 (UTC)
OK, that first long string of words isn't even a sentence. I'll assume you think you're solving a problem only you have identified. You're not. You're turning the page into a directory and list, rather than keeping it to links of significant and broad appeal to the English wiki's audience. We do not need to include links and guides for each and every nationality-based culture, every nationality, and so on. Cyndi's List is sufficient for most, we had a link to government resources, one for black American culture, and a couple of basic how-to/ wide appeal free records/data sites. That's sufficient. To try to include every single heritage will devolve the page into a mess. I've offered you an alternative solution, but rather than listen, you seem intent on getting your way, which is not productive. ThuranX (talk) 06:18, 7 January 2010 (UTC)
Thuranx wants to reduce the article to terms he understands and exclude valuable new material he is unaware of. He refers to himself as "we" which seems to be the appeal to authority he hates. He admitted before he knew nothing about the scholarly literature and even challenges whether the cited articles actually existed--an argument from ignorance. He ASSUMES over and over again he already knows what will be useful to users, missing the point that Wikipedia is a collaborative effort in which different editors bring to light different approaches. The fact is that genealogy is a big field with enormous amounts of interest, so that efforts to reduce it to what limited knowledge one editor has violates the spirit and the letter of Wikipedia. Most of the citations I added addressed unsupported arguments--no citations at all--which was a glaring weakness that has now been corrected. Rjensen (talk) 06:57, 7 January 2010 (UTC)

There is a major problem with the citations in this article. References should be fully cited the first time they appear (in the footnote), so that there is not unnecessary duplication of footnotes and bibliography. Wikipedia is not JSTOR or any academic journal. I'll work on fixing it. ~~ —Preceding unsigned comment added by 64.252.28.113 (talk) 03:26, 17 February 2010 (UTC)

Bibliographies are especially important for many users and are part of standard Wikipedia policy. They tell what the major resources are for further reading, while the footnotes nail down specific points and are not necessarily useful for general readers. The Wiki philosophy is that more help is better, rather than less for the users. This article gets 20,000 hits a month; there are many kinds of users from librarians and archivists to dedicated researchers to casual lookers on who wonder how to get started. They all can benefit. Furthermore policy decisions are not made by fly-in erasers who have not contributed in any sway to this article or to related articles. Rjensen (talk) 17:14, 21 February 2010 (UTC)
Simply amazing, Richard. Historians aren't supposed to leap to conclusions in the absence of evidence, or base conclusions solely on their personal biases and prejudices. Yet here you do so in a very public way. Your bias against anonymous editors and the consequent erroneous conclusions you have drawn as a result has been amply demonstrated. As an anonymous editor, I have contributed substantially to this article and to hundreds of others over the course of several years. But you don't really want to know about that. You'd rather make self-righteous proclamations about WP policies that you made up. There is, in fact, no WP policy that says that bibliographies should duplicate footnotes. 64.148.6.239 (talk) 16:26, 22 February 2010 (UTC)
well I'm biased against ignorance and blanking of useful information. Anonymous people have anonymous ideas of little credibility--but Wikipedia needs need positive, useful, authentic material based on reliable sources. Bibliographies are used to identify the best general resources for our readers to explore the topic, and that is not the function of footnotes (which is to nail down a specific point with a reliable source). Rjensen (talk) 18:04, 22 February 2010 (UTC)
This is Wikipedia, not the Richard Jensen Vanity Press. Show me where it says that in the WP:MOS, in particular where it says that sources should be duplicated in footnotes and bibliographies. 64.148.6.239 (talk) 21:02, 22 February 2010 (UTC)
someone who is new to Wikipedia should look at many different articles and see how we do things here, rather than make silly DEMANDS!! that don't help anyone. For example, see how it is done at Genealogical Society of Utah. The MOS at WP:FOOT explicitly recommends duplicating footnotes in the bibliography: "Consider maintaining a separate bibliography/references section that gives full publication details for frequently cited sources" Rjensen (talk) 21:14, 22 February 2010 (UTC)

Merger proposal[edit]

The following discussion is closed. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section. A summary of the conclusions reached follows.
The result of this discussion was Merge (Family history -> Genealogy)

I propose that Family history be merged into this article. There are inconsistent and unsourced attempts on both pages to differentiate the two. The opening sentences of both articles in effect say that Family history is part of Genealogy, and that is how Family history is categorised in WP - Category:Family history is in Category:Genealogy, not the other way round. But the Family history article then makes an unsourced statement that Family history is the "overarching" term. The Genealogy article discusses things which the Family history article describes as Family history, and the Family history article discusses things which the Genealogy article describes as Genealogy. The whole thing is a mess. Although there might be an argument that the two things are distinct, there is so much overlap and disagreement as to the boundaries that the only practical way forward seems to be to merge the two articles (and probably the categories too).--Mhockey (talk) 10:39, 2 July 2011 (UTC)

Agree - yes too much overlap Gioto (talk)

Agree - good arguments Lklundin (talk) 06:42, 30 July 2011 (UTC)

Agree - Family history is a subset of genealogy, with an emphasis on the researcher's own ancestors. leifbk (talk) 11:45, 30 July 2011 (UTC)

Agree - Not all genealogists are involved in family history, but all family historians are involved in genealogy Vrc84 (talk) 23:16, 5 September 2011 (UTC)

Mildly Disagree - A student whose teacher gives the class an assignment to search their family history would not find either article if they were merged. Both articles contain useful information and many articles at WP duplicate information. Would anyone consider deleting the duplicate information and providing links where needed? It might help someone find an ancestor. Respectfully, Tiyang (talk) 08:37, 13 September 2011 (UTC) Agree - both subjects are the same and involve the same people so they should be merged 22 Nov 2011 — Preceding unsigned comment added by 83.49.184.115 (talk) 17:45, 22 November 2011 (UTC)

Agree - I have been researching my genealogy or family history for over thirty years, teach beginner family history classes, and assist people who ask for help with their research. Prior to 1985, you would not have even heard the term family history but would have only heard the term genealogy. About that time, the term "family history" was introduced and has become predominant. Personally, I would pick one term but keep the other with a link to click on to be taken to the other one. If you want the oldest term to keep, it would be genealogy. If you want the common term that is being used today, it would be family history. Basically you aren't talking oranges and apples but McIntosh and Fuji! lol What should be included I believe are some basic instructions or sites to go to if you are interested in starting to research your genealogy or family history, whichever term you want to use. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Familytreeclimber (talkcontribs) 21:11, 1 October 2012 (UTC)

Strongly Disagree - I think the Family History article in particular is a mess but they both serve their purpose. Genealogy itself is a branch of Family History so if anything the merging should be the other way round. I think more effort should be spent on the Family History article, but I strongly disagree with merging it to the Genealogy article. Tamsier (talk) 21:11, 17 September 2011 (UTC)

Would you like to please provide some citation for the non-obvious claim that 'Genealogy itself is a branch of Family History' ? Thanks. Lklundin (talk) 20:55, 18 September 2011 (UTC)

Agree Until someone adds some substance to the family article, that isn't covered in this article, I think it could easily and painlessly be redirected here. BTW, I think that this discussion should probably be taking place on the family article, since it concerns that article's future. No one has even left a note on its talkpage! That's not fair to the editors who have it on their watchlists. I've just left a note there now.--Brianann MacAmhlaidh (talk) 05:28, 19 September 2011 (UTC)

Disagree - The term "family history" is used in the medical field when discussing a family history of breast cancer or heart disease. When I search through Google on the term "family history" nearly 80% of the hits on the first two pages are to medical sites. The other hits are to the blog of one particular genealogist. I think that these terms should not be merged. I think that a note might be made that genealogy is often spelled as geneology and that the term family history is often used as a friendlier way to discuss genealogy. Ignarp (talk) 16:20, 15 November 2011 (UTC)

This medical meaning of "family history" is not mentioned at all in the current "family history" article. How can the medical use of the term form an argument against (or for) the proposal to merge the genealogical use of "family history" into the genealogy article? Lklundin (talk) 09:49, 16 November 2011 (UTC)
  • Agree -- the topics are similar enough that the distinguishing characteristics can be merged. Bring Family History into Genealogy. --CPAScott (talk) 20:46, 21 November 2011 (UTC)

Agree -- they are generally considered synonymous. The only disagreements here have not been well supported. So: why is this taking so long? — Preceding unsigned comment added by 70.181.47.197 (talk) 18:08, 3 January 2012 (UTC)

Disagree. :The fact that many people think they are synonymous is of course quite true. But genealogy has a much narrower defintion, a very long history, and is applicable to non-human populations. Family history is in essence 20th century innovation of much broader scope. Nowadays, genealogy is more or less a specialist, albeit core area within family history. I propose a narrowly defined genealogy article and a broadly defined fh article. Genealogy is about biological descent, fh is about biography based around biological descent. Genuki has no trouble in defining the distinction: http://www.genuki.org.uk/gs/ --Pfold (talk) 22:21, 3 January 2012 (UTC)

I don't think many genealogists/family historians would recognise the distinction made by Genuki. Even Genuki says that they used to be synonymous (when do they think it changed?). Surely genealogists are interested in more than biological descent - brothers, brothers-in-law, aunts, adopted children, but if we believed Genuki, family historians would be interested but genealogists would not be. Other sources use "family history" in the sense that Genuki seems to reserve for "genealogy", e.g. findmypast, ancestry.com, genesreunited.co.uk. The terms are used interchangeably to mean the same thing. --Mhockey (talk) 23:54, 4 January 2012 (UTC)

Agree Genealogy is Family History. Family History is Genealogy.JDMcGreg (talk) —Preceding undated comment added 02:35, 30 July 2012 (UTC)

Support To most people and most sources the two are synonymous but, if Family History is a subset of Genealogy, this difference can be described within the Genealogy article. The Genealogy article currently slips back and forth into describing Family History. Whichever way the consensus goes, there is a lot of clean-up required to prune the uncited sections. Sionk (talk) 06:06, 4 August 2012 (UTC)

Agree The terms should be used as synonyms to avoid confusion. The argument to differentiate them seems to trace its origin to different usage in American and British English. In America, local organizations whose members are dedicated to the topic are termed "genealogical societies" while in England "family history societies" serve the same function. Murphynw (talk) 02:32, 25 May 2013 (UTC)

Agree One might be a subsection of the other, but all would be best served by one clear well written article. --RebekahThorn (talk) 11:30, 25 June 2013 (UTC)

Agree Regardless of semantics, there is too much overlap in the content of the articles and not enough attention paid to both. There is consensus, so I am not sure why it hasn't happened already. Helen (talk) 14:14, 25 June 2013 (UTC)

Merge or Not to Merge - That is the question?[edit]

I've looked at both Genealogy and Family History @ en.wiki what a mess! I am a Genealogist. I thought I was coming to this page to see what all the controversy was to about? Family History and Genealogy both have to do with each other. People arguing over rice and beans. Genealogy/Family History is a big topic. But someone coming to either article would be dumfounded as I am. People come to Wikipedia to want to find out about a topic. Someone who wanted to learn how to do family research would come to both articles and they would be as confused as I am. I say merge the two and, do it respectfully as one is not without the other! Cmurdock1955 (talk) 03:29, 7 August 2012 (UTC)

I suggest the issue is not to merge/not merge but clean up both[edit]

FWIW, I say keep both separate.

They are two differing approaches to the same thing, but I would keep both.

They also both need some major work.

Wikiscott2 (talk) 16:25, 30 August 2012 (UTC)

Comment[edit]

  • Merge

Genealogy as defined by the Concise Oxford Dictionary, 10th edition, by Oxford University Press: genealogy /dZi;nI"al@dZi, dZEn-/
· n. (pl. genealogies)
1 a line of descent traced continuously from an ancestor.
2 the study of lines of descent.
– DERIVATIVES genealogical /%dZi;nI@"lQdZIk(@)l, %dZEn-/ adj. genealogically adv. genealogist n. genealogize (also genealogise) v.
– ORIGIN ME: via OFr. and late L. from Gk genealogia, from genea ‘race, generation’ + -logia (see -logy).

You will not find the term 'Family History' in the same dictionary. Why? Because its use in genealogy is an American generated term used about a 100 years ago. Genealogy is the formal term, family history is the story behind the genealogy. Years ago The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints began using the term Family History for their version of genealogy. They created Family History Centers to focus the work beyond just the facts and figures. Becuase of the wide spread use of the term over the last 25 plus years, they are now renaming many of their FHCs to FamilySearch Centers.

LDS sources cite that genealogy is the focus, but the stories behind the facts is the Family History. It has to do with the Bible verse regarding the Spirit of Elijah turning the hearts of the fathers to the sons and vice versa. I am getting a bit long on tooth here, but hopefully the point is noted. Jrcrin001 (talk) 07:04, 11 December 2012 (UTC)

Agree - It's been over a year and the consensus is to merge the article. I've grabbed what little bits I thought had some value, but didn't have enough time to sort through it and properly remove duplication. Please review the old article and bring over anything else that is needed and help clean up redundant information. Morphh (talk) 14:50, 25 June 2013 (UTC)


The above discussion is closed. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section.

Proposed Distinction between Genealogy and Family History[edit]

I am not a professional genealogist (yet) but have given a few talks at genealogy meetings. Because the topic of my presentations touched on the difference between "genealogy" and "family history", I often start out asking the audience (other genealogists/family historians) what they think the difference is between the two. The answer I get, and which I believe, is that genealogy is the study of how family members are descended from and related to each other as shown by factual information (cited sources) while family history is the set of stories involving the family members that make them seem more interesting or show why they did some of the things they did. One could think of genealogy as the "science" behind the family and family history as the "art" of that family. Or one could say genealogy is the framework defining the family while family history is the meat on that structure.

Genealogy and family history are separate undertakings, in my opinion, but go hand in hand. You can interview relatives and pick up the family lore, ask about family traditions, or why your family moved from point A to point B, but unless you are sure of the relationship of the people, your stories and further information gathering could soon be applied to the wrong family (although there is nothing wrong in including neighbors and friends in your stories). Alternately, one might be more interested in extending a tree as far back or as wide as possible, but eventually they could find a newspaper article or old letter that mentions a family member and describes the "adventures" the person went through.

I welcome your comments and whether or not others see the distinction as I do. From there we could probably edit both wiki articles easier if we have some agreement. --Chris_edits (talk) 22:48, 11 April 2013

The discussion is rumbling on above. But any definition needs to be based on authoritative published sources. Actually, I've taken another look at my copy of Tracing Your Ancestors by D. M. Field (1982). It was a widely available book in the UK when I started my family history seriously, pre-internet. The "Introduction" begins by defining the differences between the two:

Genealogy, or the study of pedigrees, is not quite the same thing as family history. The genealogist is strictly concerned with establishing family relationships and descent, and 'history', in the fullest sense, is largely incidental. The family historian is concerned with much more than establishing that Great-Grandfather Field was a coal merchant who was born in Huddersfield in 1852, married there in 1878 and died in Sheffield in 1916. He wants to find out as much as possible about his subject. After establishing the basic genealogical facts, he will probably go on to study books on the coal retailing business and life in Voctorian Huddersfield. Family history can and does make an important contribution to history in general...
Of course, genealogy is also history; in fact it is arguably the oldest form of history we have... In many societies, power and property depended on inheritance, and thus it was important to remember who your grandfather was, who his father was, and so on. Indeed it is still one of the raison d'etre of genealogy.

— D. M. Field, Tracing Your Ancestors, "Introduction", p. 4
So family history is a fleshing-out of genealogy (basic ancestral facts), in his view. Sionk (talk) 07:56, 12 April 2013 (UTC)


So is the problem that we don't have an acknowledged authority to reference? I have looked for one, but am not sure I (we) would ever find one as I also admit I use the terms interchangeably as do many of the genealogists I know. But when asked what the difference is, they describe something similar to what we're talking about.

Let's think about this analogy for a second: What does "Let's go get some food" mean? What does "Let's go out for drinks" mean? Ignoring the social implications some may read into these, does eating food mean you won't have drinks with your meal or going to a bar mean you won't have snacks with the drink? No, they are similar and overlap each other but will you find an authoritative reference to distinguish between "food" and "drink"? The context in which "food" and "drink" are used help determine what is meant, I think, but if you are asked to distinguish between them, you can. --Chris_edits (talk) 11:13, 12 April 2013 (PST)

Yes, if you had to distinguish between genealogy and family history, it would probably be on the lines you or D.M. Field suggest, although even that suggested distinction is open to question. Some (including the Concise Oxford Dictionary, cited above) might say genealogy is just about pedigree, i.e. who was the child of whom, and everything else, occupations, residence, place of death etc, is "family history". Or if finding out an ancestor's occupation is "genealogy", what about where he worked, which companies he worked for etc etc? To raise these questions is to show the uselessness of the distinction. People who are interested in genealogy are interested in family history and vice versa. They may also be interested in social history (the coal retailing business, or life in Victorian Huddersfield, in your example), but it would be a stretch to call that "family history". What you have to look at is how reliable sources actually use the terms (not how they try to define them), and I think you will find, as the evidence already cited indicates, that they use them interchangeably. Behind this attempted distinction is probably a feeling that "genealogy" sounds old-fashioned, like "heraldry", whereas "family history" sounds more modern, not just facts and figures, more conducive to TV programmes. But the reality is that they are old and new terms for pretty much the same thing.--Mhockey (talk) 21:04, 12 April 2013 (UTC)
I think that editors and WP readers instinctively know the similarity and difference: (genealogy/history). Having them together appeals to me (reasons above). -- Charles Edwin Shipp (talk) 03:39, 31 July 2014 (UTC)

Some References[edit]

The term genealogy and its derivatives are used in different ways. In its literal sense, genealogy is about biological lineage (e.g. family trees, pedigree charts). Family history is really a form of microhistory concerned with people's lives. The difference is extremely important from the point of view of having an appropriate data model supporting computer storage of the associated data. Unfortunately, the term genealogy is also used in a generic sense for any type of research involving families.

The Society of Genealogists publishes a distinction between the two concepts at: http://www.sog.org.uk/education/gandfh.shtml.

The difference between Family History and Genealogy was also answered on StackExchange at: http://genealogy.stackexchange.com/q/1424/108.

A very compact quote from Dr Nick Barratt on the subject:

"We use genealogy and family history as though they are one and the same thing, but of course they are not. Genealogy is a purer search for historical connectivity between generations - building a family tree or pedigree, if you like - whereas family history is a broader piece of research into their lives and activities"

This is from Your Family History magazine, March 2013, Issue 38, Page 74. TonyP (talk) 12:23, 12 May 2013 (UTC)

Nick Barrett makes the argument for merging the articles: "We use genealogy and family history as though they are one and the same thing". As has been pointed out several times above, they are used interchangeably. The distinction that Barrett then draws does not really stand up to examination. What do people put in their family tree or pedigree? Place of birth, date and place of marriage, occupation, possibly place of residence or info about emigration? That sounds to me like research into lives and activities. So genealogists study family history, and family historians study genealogy. The argument for merging the two articles is that people in practice use the terms interchangeably, and even if they can agree on the difference between them, they do not find the distinction useful.--Mhockey (talk) 17:52, 12 May 2013 (UTC)
That's a very selectively edited quote - he concludes to say "...of course they are not". Maybe you'd like to find some sources which actually say they are the same thing? Sionk (talk) 18:55, 12 May 2013 (UTC)
I agree with the previous response - a very selective quote, given that Dr Barratt was making the converse case. As I said, there are contexts where the 'genealogy' term is used in a generic-research way, but there are also contexts where the difference is marked. You mention vital events in a family tree. The majority record BMD dates and places which is different to recording everything about the history of those events, including the lead-up, who else was there, images, videos, ephemera. What about military service records, tax records, newspaper references? These are part of a study of history rather than just lineage. TonyP (talk) 08:17, 13 May 2013 (UTC)
In order to substantiate the claim of a given genealogical connection it may very well be necessary to rely on information that the opponents of the merger deem to be part of 'Family history'. Lklundin (talk) 09:03, 13 May 2013 (UTC)
The "selectivity" is to ignore the point - which does not seem to be disputed - that the terms are used interchangeably. You can argue for ever about differences in "meaning" between the two terms. What we are discussing is whether it is useful to have separate articles on "genealogy" and "family history". No-one is disputing that you can distinguish the two. The point is that in practice most people don't.
And yes, military service records, tax records, newspaper references are very much part of genealogy - which is part of history. They may not be "just lineage", but genealogy is much broader than lineage.
If you believed Nick Barratt, you would say that when you look at a census record, when you read the "relationship" column, you are studying "genealogy", but when you read the address or the occupation column, you are studying "family history". That may or may not be true, but what is the point of the distinction?
What you can say is that "family history" is now the preferred term for what was in the past described as "genealogy". For example, "family history" rather than "genealogy" is the term used on findmypast, ancestry.com and genesreunited to describe the building of family trees.
What you can also say is that the two articles are a mess, because there is so much overlap and no-one can agree on precisely where the distinction lies. If you try to fix the two separate articles, it would not be long before "genealogy" is introduced into "family history", and "family history" is introduced into "genealogy", and we would have the debate all over again. By all means, include a discussion on the two terms, making the point that there are differing views on where one stops and the other starts. But let's do it in a single article.--Mhockey (talk) 09:14, 13 May 2013 (UTC)
Whatever the decision regarding one or two articles, I'm OK as long as we accept that parts of the industry do distinguish the concepts - and have to for appropriate representation and visualisation. One request: Family History is a type of microhistory and should make reference to Microhistory. That article even mentions "family", and also "place" which then covers One-Place Studies. One-Name and One-Place Studies also tend to get lumped into this general field but need a clear definition too. TonyP (talk) 10:20, 13 May 2013 (UTC)
Further to my note about one-name studies and one-place studies, which I now see under https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/One-name_study and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/One-place_study, I'd still like to emphasise that there are several disciplines that might be more-properly classed as micro-history but often get lumped under Genealogy. At the moment, I see little in the way of synergy between them. Genealogy and Family-History appear to have been merged, but One-name Studies and One-Place Studies are still distinct. Just to add another log on the fire, I came across the Association of Personal Historians recently (APH, http://www.personalhistorians.org/). Their FAQ distinguishes themselves from genealogy, and they may even distinguish themselves from Family-History, and yet they are still a form of micro-history. They therefore share many of the same research methods, and requirements for computer storage and organisation. Is there a way we can bring these respective pages together without further merges (e.g. links under a higher-level heading)? TonyP (talk) 13:34, 17 July 2013 (UTC)
I'd be fine with including something in the overview section or a separate terminology section (if justified) that includes the distinctions some sources may make. We just need to be aware of WP:UNDUE. We can also discuss how to include the topic of microhistory and if merging, WP:SUMMARY, or just a sentence with a Wikilink would be best. I don't think by merging articles we're saying there is no difference between such terms, just that there is not enough difference to justify multiple articles covering essentially the same topic, particularly when most use the terms interchangeably. Morphh (talk) 04:43, 10 August 2013 (UTC)
I added a paragraph on the terminology in the Overview section. Morphh (talk) 20:01, 27 August 2013 (UTC)

FamilySearch collections[edit]

Some recent removal of content from the FamilySearch collections siting WP:UNDUE made me consider if the section itself is POV, or preferential to a particular organization. I don't know if the LDS has done more for records then other large Genealogy services, but we're certainly giving elevating them in this generic article above anyone - is it UNDUE? Perhaps something more neutral would be a section on "Digital collections" and try to include other organizations that have contributed to expanding online digital records. The section then goes on to promote FamilySearch, which certainly seems bias. Morphh (talk) 12:48, 1 November 2013 (UTC)

The records built up by the Church of the Latter Day Saints (and their International Genealogical Indexes) have been extremely important to family history research for many decades. However, some additional sources poving this would be beneficial, because anyone not familiar with the subject would wonder why they had their own section here. I'm unsure whether the section should be headed differently because, as far as I'm aware, FamilySearch is the name of the website that the church uses to put its records online (rather than the organisation behind it). Sionk (talk) 18:17, 1 November 2013 (UTC)
I authored most of this content and think you have a good point. It could be moved to the FamilySearch page. Murphynw (talk) 16:02, 31 March 2014 (UTC)

So how did it end up? More content here seems good to me. Some minor notes about this thread could include: (1) 'siting' has to do with fixing location, as opposed to 'citing' documentation; (2) and the name of the LDS Church is, "The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints" (noting CAPS and lower-case.) Just so you know. -- Charles Edwin Shipp (talk) 04:31, 1 September 2014 (UTC) -- PS: "At this point, what does it matter?"  :-)  :-)

External Links: What is Appropriate Here?[edit]

How should external links be decided for this page? There is not a single link at this moment that would not be better off in the List of genealogy portals, List of general genealogy databases, or List of national archives. I suggest the "External Links" section be entirely replaced with a "See Also" section to the aforementioned three articles, or that their contents be merged in. There is no reason for overlap, or the arbitrary picking of one link versus another. — 24.9.78.128 (talk) 19:37, 19 November 2013 (UTC)

Utility company records[edit]

Mention all public utility company records could be useful not only for house histories, but for that of their occupants too. Jidanni (talk) 22:39, 6 December 2013 (UTC)

Before adding this to the article herein, is it clear how a person finds the info on occupants and house histories? If it is not obvious, it may need to be included in any editing, or at least referenced. -- Charles Edwin Shipp (talk) 17:51, 28 April 2014 (UTC)
On my LDS mission in Indiana (pioneer days) I used the POLK CITY DIRECTORY (in a town of 7,000) and it had such information. Also, the link you give is still valid and has a sublink germain to your point about home occupants: http://genealogy.about.com/od/basics/a/house_history.htm Is this what you mean? -- Charles Edwin Shipp (talk) 15:15, 6 November 2015 (UTC)

Citations needed[edit]

There are four sentences marked [citation needed]. They are dated Nov. 2008 to Apr. 2012. If unverifiable, these "facts" should be deleted. IMO. --Hordaland (talk) 06:18, 3 February 2016 (UTC)

Wow, I just made 10 changes to a single section of just two paragraphs, a lot is poorly written and has no references. --Richard Arthur Norton (1958- ) (talk) 16:35, 19 September 2016 (UTC)
Well, yes, but the first paragraph in the section "Indexing ancestral Information" now ends with an incomplete sentence. This diff, I think: diff. Want to take another look? --Hordaland (talk) 18:17, 20 September 2016 (UTC)
Fixed it, sorry. The reference was in the middle of the sentence, which made it harder to edit. --Richard Arthur Norton (1958- ) (talk) 13:58, 22 September 2016 (UTC)
That whole section used the word "photostat" which is 1920s technology as a synonym for "scanning". --Richard Arthur Norton (1958- ) (talk) 14:01, 22 September 2016 (UTC)

None reasonability[edit]

Genealogical name tracing is not a valid tool, and has not been a valid tool since the 1600's, when large sections of the middle east, north africa and spanish islamic sections migrated through spain to the America's.

Any name that is of Spanish origin, could very well be Hebrew, Lebanese or for that matter Iranian or Saudi descend, all and every migrant then, promoting themselves more catholic then even a catholic, the penalization for not doing so, usually being labelled ' heretic ' (for catholicism), or downright burning if torquemada took you for having some gold on you.

That same counts for World War II, where large sections of jews, gypsies and other ethnic groups in europe took up localized names or where ' adopted ' within existing families.

As usual, after the War, the nth generation Roman Catholic Arab descendents where first in line to nomer themselves saint beyound saint, for not having done much of anything, at any time, but staying alive.

Happily, those all have somewhat of the same morphisms, very similar to the United States Dod Southern stocky build.

/ — Preceding unsigned comment added by 186.91.72.229 (talk) 15:41, 31 May 2017 (UTC)
What is the heading supposed to mean? What does "the United States Dod Southern stocky build" mean?
Much of this may be true. Most of it cannot be added to the article, without good sources. --Hordaland (talk) 14:03, 1 June 2017 (UTC)

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