Black’s Law Dictionary; 1st and 2nd Edition on CD

us0211Vital records, land records, legal documents, and many other genealogically critical resources are full of legal terminology. As laws and countries change, so does the verbiage in such records. The older the document the more difficult it may be to interpret all the legal mumbo jumbo. Over the decades, Black’s Law Dictionary has been a great resource for sorting out legalese. The current 9th edition is really reserved for attorneys and legal professionals. However, older versions of the dictionary can help genealogist decipher older records and documents. Called Black’s dictionary because it was originally written and assembled by Henry Campbell Black, the 1891 first edition and the 1910 second edition of Black’s Law Dictionary are available on CD as A Dictionary of Law.

This CD of the first two editions of the dictionary takes the genealogist out of time and puts them in a different place, where the language of the law and its place in society was different than today’s world. This dictionary can help researchers interpret documents from the American colonial period and from a similar time period in England. Terms, words, and phrases from Scottish and Welsh law are included, along with many  Latin and French words of kinship. Words are similar to those that would have appeared in will, land grants, and even agricultural records.

The second edition includes more entries for law reports and case law; plus, additional words including medically related terms. The two editions are in .pdf format (Acrobat). Acrobat reader is available on both MAC and PC, making this book usable on both platforms. Acrobat files are also easily searchable, making finding terms uncovered in research easy to look up and verify. Genealogist searching ancestors living more than 100 years ago will find this CD a vital part of their reference collection.

Black’s Law Dictionary is available from Family Roots Publishing.

Deciphering Gothic Records

Deciphering Gothic Records is a great little flip book designed to help those with German ancestry read and understand older German documents and handwriting. The books contents include information and words common to traditional vital records; including; birth, christenings, marriages, deaths, and burials.

Fay S. Dearden created Deciphering Gothic Records: Useful Hints for Helping You Read “Old German” Script to provide the researcher with common alphabet variations, German words, names, Latin terms, and abbreviations in Gothic records. For example, under “Symbols” a list of of marks are show with their German meaning and English translation. One mark we know, or is at least similar to today’s asterick, means gobren or born. Another looks like two small boxes connected on the under side by an downward arching line means twin boys.

This booklet is printed on cardstock and measures in at 4.25″ x 9″. This little guide is small enough and tough enough to toss in bag or purse and take with you to the library. Spiral bound on the top also makes it easy to read and use while researching.

 

Contents include:

  • Complete alphabet, with both lower and uppercase, letter variations
  • Symbols
  • Common words in German and English, with handwritten examples for:
  • Birth records
  • Marriage records
  • Death records
  • Abbreviations in both Gothic and Latin (English)
  • Latin terms
  • Illness related terms
  • Titles and occupations
  • Common German names

 

Add this great guide as an added bonus to any order at Family Roots Publishing. Deciphering Gothic Records: Useful Hints for Helping You Read “Old German” Script, Item #:FTP3.

MORE What Did They Mean By That?

What Did They Mean By That? A Dictionary of Historical and Genealogical Terms Old and New has long been the most popular historical dictionary carried by Family Roots Publishing. This book provides an understanding, in modern terms, for words used in the past. Many of these words, used historically in everyday conversation, to describe items, jobs, events, and technology of the day, are no longer in use or get used with a different meaning. This book provides the background family historians need to grasp the meaning of letters, documents, and sources from the past. More What Did They Mean By That? A Dictionary of Historical and Genealogical Terms Old and New is, well, more of the same.

More, provide another 193 pages of terms, words, and phrases come and gone in the English language. Many of the terms are derived form foreign words and others from various Native American languages. Other words may have appeared in certain areas, usually loosing out over time to another derivative. For example, schnecke was a popular pastry from Pennsylvania Dutch. Today, we would recognize the more English sounding name of sticky buns or cinnamon rolls.

Like the first What Did They Mean by That? entries are in paragraph style, instead of using a typical dictionary two-column format. In fact, the book feels a bit more like an encyclopedia than it does a standard dictionary. Most entries provide more than just a standard definition. Rather, entries provide an explanations, examples, and observations. This dictionary has other unique features as well, including images. While not on every page, the pictures do provide both an element of interest as well as prove educational. Some of the images are pictures and some are document samples.

With that all said, perhaps the best overview of this book is the one the book gives itself on the back cover:

“The family historian must seek out the records of the merchants, courts, legislators, and churches, as well as the everyday expressions of the common men and women, all the while striving to remain aware that just as we have created words like television, computer, microwave oven, automobile, space station, gigabyte, and airplane, and set aside words as ticking and icebox, stadle, and squabpie, our ancestors had to do the same. They made up the likes of telegraph, railroad, and telescope, and assimilated German words like hex, sauerkraut, fresh, hoodlum, and kindergarten; Spanish words such as barbeque, chocolate, and tornado; French sounds like bayou, levee, depot, and chowder; and Indian words such as hickory, pecan, hominy, moccasin, and raccoon. Though they invented the likes of popcorn, sweet potato, eggplant, bullfrog, and backwoodsman, they left behind them terms no longer needed in their daily lives. Gone were the likes of moxa (Indian moss burned on an area of the body, thought to cure gout), hautboy (oboe), gruntling (young hog), muchwhat (nearly), revelrout (a ruckus), and, from most regions of the U.S., the long “a” sounds of old England (fahst for fast, dahnce for dance, and hoff, meaning half.) The words found here are seen at every turn of research; in court documents (especially inventories of estates, court entries, and lawsuits), church records, books, newspapers, letters, and songs.”

More What Did They Mean By That? A Dictionary of Historical and Genealogical Terms Old and New is available from Family Roots Publishing; Item #: HBD3571, Price: $21.50.

Black’s Law Dictionary

Vital records, land records, legal documents, and many other genealogically critical resources are full of legal terminology. As laws and countries change, so does the verbiage in such records. The older the document the more difficult it may be to interpret all the legal mumbo jumbo. Over the decades, Black’s Law Dictionary has been a great resource for sorting out legalese. The current 9th edition is really reserved for attorneys and legal professionals. However, older versions of the dictionary can really serve to help genealogist decipher older records. Called Black’s dictionary because it was originally written and assembled by Henry Campbell Black, the 1891 first edition and the 1910 second edition of A Dictionary of Law are available on CD.

This CD of the first two editions of the dictionary takes the genealogist out of time and put them in a different place, where the language of the law and its place in society was different than today’s world. This dictionary can help researchers interpret documents from the American colonial period and from a similar time period in England. Terms, words, and phrases from Scottish and Welsh law are included, along with many  Latin and French words of kinship. Words are similar to those that would have appeared in will, land grants, even agricultural records.

The second edition includes more entries for law reports and case law; plus, additional words including medically related terms. The two editions are in .pdf format (Acrobat). Acrobat reader is available on both MAC and PC, making this book usable on both platforms. Acrobat files are also easily searchable, making finding terms uncovered in research easy to look up and verify. Genealogist searching ancestors living more than 100 years ago will find this CD a vital part of their reference collection.

Black’s Law Dictionary is available from Family Roots Publishing; Item #: US0211, Price: $29.35.

What Did They Do? Ancestral Terminology

A dictionary, a glossary, a desk reference, I am not sure any of these perfectly describe What Did They Do? Ancestral Terminology. However, Dr. Penelope Christensen, the author, calls the book a dictionary, so I guess that is good enough for this review. In her words, the book is “a dictionary of names of occupations, nicknames, officials, personal attributes & relationships for family historians.” Terms and phrases are predominately of English origin from between 50 and 300 years ago. English, in this case, being British. There are also some North American and Australian terms provided in cases where foreign and British usage differs and may cause added confusion. The essence of the book is to provide a modern translations to older terminology.

Simply put, language changes. More so, idioms, slang, common phrases, popular words, provincial and colloquial speech change with time. Identifying and understanding the meaning of outdated references can be comical. However, when trying to conduct research comedy may lighten the mood for the moment, but getting to the meaning of words is critical to ultimate success. Here is a little test of your knowledge, from the book. Do you know the meaning of the following:

  • Broderer
  • Brogger
  • Conductress
  • Goff
  • Kirver
  • Puisne
  • Traynor

I wouldn’t dream of leaving you hanging, so here are the answers:

  • Broderer: Embroiderer
  • Brogger: Raw wool merchant; Person disposing of stolen property or fence (I guessed thief, so I give myself a point here)
  • Conductress: Female shop assistant (I would have guessed early phrase for flight attendant)
  • Goff: Smith
  • Kirver: The picksman who prepared coal seam for hewing
  • Puisne: Judge of superior court, inferior in rank to chief judge
  • Traynor: Trapper

I’ll admit, I specifically chose some words I was not familiar with. Other I knew, but there is plenty here to learn. The volume has over 9,750 terms, many having multiple meanings, like “brogger.” Dr. Christensen points out that as wide spread as she has tried to make this book, there is no way to cover every possible term. Expansive volumes exist, covering very detailed and precise language variations for local dialects, local trades, and spelling variations. But, does anyone really want to purchase, store, and carry around Wright’s six-volumed English Dialect Dictionary? And that would be just a start.

Instead, Christensen has provided a reasonably sized, yet surprisingly thorough, coverage of the critical names and occupations one may expect to find in their family history research.

Ancestral Terminology  is book 8 in The Heritage Book Series. This series represents a collection of professional genealogical guides published in Canada. However, this does not diminish the value of the techniques taught in the book for the U.S. market. If you speak and research in the English language, then this book was written for you.

Table of Contents

What Did They Do?

Introduction

Content

Sources

  • Style – Terms
  • Description
  • Terminology Starting with A
  • Terminology Starting with B
  • Terminology Starting with C
  • Terminology Starting with D
  • Terminology Starting with E
  • Terminology Starting with F
  • Terminology Starting with G
  • Terminology Starting with H
  • Terminology Starting with J
  • Terminology Starting with K
  • Terminology Starting with L
  • Terminology Starting with M
  • Terminology Starting with N
  • Terminology Starting with O
  • Terminology Starting with P
  • Terminology Starting with Q
  • Terminology Starting with R
  • Terminology Starting with S
  • Terminology Starting with T
  • Terminology Starting with U
  • Terminology Starting with V
  • Terminology Starting with W
  • Terminology Starting with X
  • Terminology Starting with Y
  • Terminology Starting with Z

References

 

Order What Did They Do? Ancestral Terminology from Family Roots Publishing; Item #: HB08, Price: $24.50.

Reading Non-English Records

Tracing one’s history in their own native language offers plenty of challenges. Changes in writing styles and in handwriting, problems with damage and discoloration, both added to transcription and indexing errors can make record finding and reading difficult at times. However, at some point most researchers find themselves with an even greater challenge: finding and deciphering records in another language. Once a genealogist traces his/her ancestral roots to another country, language barriers add to overall complexity in research. Following the Paper Trail: A Multilingual Translation Guide by Jonathan D. Shea and William F. Hoffman was written to help researchers with this very problem.

Following the Paper Trail not only acknowledges the need for language assistance, but recognizes that many researches will need help in more than one additional language. This book looks at many languages, dividing them into linguistic families. Similarities within a single family make it easier to identify words and commonalities in other associated languages. For example, the Latin or “Romance” language include French, Latin, Italian, Portuguese, Romanian, and Spanish, which together make up one section of the book.

Each language appears in the book with their alphabet in both printed and cursive forms. Sample documents are provided with an analysis, including translation to English, of their components. Selected vocabulary terms round out each language. All the documents are representative of the typical records genealogist seek or that their immigrant ancestors may have had in their possession. The authors refer to this volume as “an introduction to the translation of such documents.”

As such an introduction, this book makes an excellent resources for those just starting out with their immigrant ancestors research, or as a volume for regular reference.

 

Table of Contents

About the Authors

Introduction

The Germanic Languages

German

  • The German Alphabet
  • The German Language
  • German Pronunciation
  • Document #1: A Family Record
  • Document #2: A Birth and Baptismal Certificate
  • Document #3: A German-Ukrainian Military Passport
  • Document #4: A Death Certificate
  • Document #5: A Contract for Passage on a Ship
  • German-English Word List
  • Personal Names

Swedish

  • The Swedish Alphabet
  • Swedish and the Other Scandinavian Languages
  • Document #1: A “Moving Certificate” (Exit Permit)
  • Document #2: A Report Card
  • Document #3: A Swedish Passport
  • Document #4: An Emigration Contract
  • Document #5: A Swedish-American Baptismal Certificate
  • Document #6: A Confirmation Certificate
  • Document #7: A Marriage Certificate
  • Selected Vocabulary Terms
  • Selected First Names

The Romance Languages

French

  • The French Alphabet
  • Document #1: A Civil Birth Certificate
  • Document #2: A Baptismal Certificate
  • Document #3: A French Passport
  • Document #4: A Steamship Ticket
  • Document #5: A Death Certificate
  • Selected Vocabulary Terms
  • French Personal Names

Italian

  • The Italian Alphabet
  • Document #1: A Steamship Ticket
  • Document #2: A Civil Family Registration Booklet
  • Document #3: Parish Family Registration Documents
  • Document #4: Civil Family Registration Documents
  • Document #5: An Italian Passport, Booklet Form
  • Document #6: A Long-Form Birth Certificate
  • Document #7: A Short-Form Birth Certificate
  • Selected Vocabulary Terms
  • Italian Personal Names

Latin

  • The Latin Alphabet
  • The Use of Latin in Genealogical Records
  • Document #1: A Slovenian Birth Certificate (Latin-Italian)
  • Document #2: A Polish Baptismal Certificate
  • Document #3: A Slovak Baptismal Certificate
  • Document #4: A Ukrainian Baptismal Certificate
  • Selected Vocabulary Terms
  • Selected Personal Names

Portuguese

  • The Portuguese Alphabet
  • Document #1: An Identity Card from the Azores
  • Document #2: A Birth Certificate from the Azores
  • Selected Vocabulary Terms
  • Selected Portuguese First Names

Romanian

  • The Romanian Alphabet
  • Document #1: A Romanian Birth Certificate
  • Document #2: A Romanian Passport
  • Selected Vocabulary Terms

Spanish

  • The Spanish Alphabet
  • Document #1: A Civil Birth Certificate
  • Document #2: An Identity Card
  • Document #3: A Consular Records
  • Selected Vocabulary Terms
  • Selected Personal Names

The Slavic Languages

Czech

  • The Czech Alphabet
  • Czechs, Bohemians, Moravians, Slovaks, and Their Languages
  • Document #1: A Czech Birth and Baptismal Certificate
  • Document #2: A Parish Family Registration Document
  • Document #3: A Slovak Passport
  • Selected Vocabulary Terms
  • Selected Personal Names

Polish

  • The Polish Alphabet
  • The Polish Language
  • The Format of Long-Form Documents
  • Template for Birth Records
  • Template for Death Records
  • Template for Marriage Records
  • Document #1: A Long-Form Polish Birth Certificate
  • Document #2: A Short-Form Polish Birth Certificate
  • Document #3: A Jewish Birth Certificate (Polish-Hebrew)
  • Document #4: A Polish/German Birth and Baptismal Certificate
  • Document #5: A Passport Application
  • Document #6: A Republic of Poland Passport
  • Document #7: A Polish/German Passport from the Austrian Sector
  • Document #8: A German/Polish/Ukrainian Employment Booklet
  • Selected Vocabulary Terms
  • Selected Personal Names

Russian

  • The Russian Alphabet
  • The Russian Language
  • Document #1: A Russian Orthodox Birth Certificate
  • Document #2: Long-Form Roman Catholic Birth Record
  • Document #3: A Short-Form Certificate
  • Document #4: A Jewish Birth Certificate
  • Document #5: An Islamic Birth Record
  • Document #6: A Russian Booklet-Type Passport
  • Document #7: A Single-Sheet Russian Passport
  • Document #8: A Ship Ticket
  • Selected Vocabulary Terms
  • Selected Personal Names

Other Languages

Hungarian (Magyar)

  • The Hungarian Alphabet
  • The Hungarian Language
  • Document #1: A Hungarian Birth Certificate
  • Document #2: A Hungarian Passport
  • Selected Vocabulary Terms
  • Personal Names

Lithuanian

  • The Lithuanian Alphabet
  • The Lithuanian Language
  • Document #1: Lithuanian Baptismal Certificate I
  • Document #2: Lithuanian Baptismal Certificate II
  • Document #3: A Lithuanian Passport
  • Additional Useful Terms

Appendix A: Bibliography

Appendix B: A List of Genealogical Organizations

 

Following the Paper Trail: A Multilingual Translation Guide is available from Family Roots Publishing for $28.42; Item #: AV346.