Archives and genealogy terms you need to know



Most Irish people will be familiar with the above image from the Irish Financial Regulator. It comes from a TV advertisement, ‘I don’t know what a tracker mortgage is’. It turned out there was a lot of stuff we didn’t know about back then, but for our purposes here I’ll list a few archives and genealogy related terms that are useful to know.


You’ll come across these in everyday life too and sometimes they are used so often and cover so much, it’s hard to actually explain what they are. So, here goes, in no particular order…

Archives – records of enduring value, retained permanently in an archives repository. They can be identified at the beginning of their lives and efforts made to manage them.

Enumeration – the process of counting people, usually for a census

Processing – the terms used by archivists when working on a collection. In most cases, archivists will not allow public access to a collection of manuscripts until it has been ‘processed’, that is, the physical act of arranging and describing (and conserving/preserving)

Full age – the legal age, the age of majority

Mortgage - A long-term loan to finance a property

Deeds – a document that has legal standing and conveys rights, usually property rights/title

Conveyance – a type of deed and the process whereby title is transferred from one party to another

Banns – an announcement of the intention to marry

Issue – descendants, children

Codicil – an additional part of a will

Dowry – property, money or other assets promised on marriage, usually from the parents of the bride

Intestate – a person dying without leaving a will

Obit – obituary

Probate – the legal process to validate a will

Primary sources – evidence compiled or created recording events as they happened or shortly afterwards

Tithe – a tax collected that usually supported the clergy

Vital records – of great importance, birth, marriage, death records

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