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Key Genealogy Abbreviations to Help Unlock Your Past

If you’re working on your family history, it helps to have a list of genealogy abbreviations close at hand. You’ll see a variety of abbreviations used in important documents like birth certificates, death records, and wills. This list will clear up the confusion and help you unlock your family’s past.

Woman doing geneology using family treeWoman doing geneology using family tree

Common Genealogy Abbreviations

The following general abbreviations are some of the most common. You’ll see these genealogy abbreviations in public records, online, and on headstones. 

  • a. or abt. - about

  • ad. - adopted

  • A.F. - ancestral file

  • aft. - after

  • b. - born

  • bef. - before

  • bet. - between

  • bp - baptized

  • bur. - buried

  • c. or ca. - circa

  • cem. - cemetery

  • ch. - child or children

  • chr. - christened

  • co. - county

  • d. - died

  • da. - daughter

  • div. - divorced

  • DOB - date of birth

  • DOD - date of death

  • est. - estimated

  • f. - female

  • fa. - father

  • fam. - family

  • g. - great, as in “great grandmother”

  • g.d. - granddaughter

  • g.f. - grandfather

  • g.m. - grandmother

  • g.s. - grandson

  • h. or hus. - husband

  • ill. - illegitimate

  • li. or liv. - living

  • m - married

  • m. - male

  • mat. - maternal

  • mo. - mother

  • na. - naturalized

  • obit. - obituary

  • prob. - probably

  • s - son

  • unk. - unknown

  • w. - wife

  • y. or yr. - year

Latin Abbreviations in Genealogy

Genealogy uses many Latin words, and there are abbreviations to stand for these terms, such as d.s.p. You’ll find that many of them are legal terms, but some also relate to live events and relationships. Here are some common examples:

  • A.D. - anno domini, literally "in the year of the Lord," also known as as the common era

  • d.s.p. - decessit sine prole, died without children

  • d.s.p.m. - decessit sine prole mascula, died without a male child

  • etc. - et cetera, and others

  • ibid. - ibidem, the same

  • nat. - natus, born

  • nupt. - nupti fuerunt, were married

  • ob. - obit, died

  • R.I.P. - requiescat in pace, rest in peace

  • sin. - sine, without

  • s.p. - sine prole, without children

  • s.p.l. - sine prole legitima, without legitimate offspring

  • s.p.m. - sine prole mascula, without male offspring

  • v.a. - vixit annos, years lived

  • viz. - videlicet, namely

Name Abbreviations in Genealogy

Because genealogy relies on making notes, it’s common to see abbreviations for names. These are a few common name abbreviations you may encounter:

  • Geo - George

  • Hy - Henry

  • Jas - James

  • Jos - Josef

  • Jr. - Junior

  • Sr. - Senior

  • Wm - William

Abbreviations for Genealogy Groups and Organizations

From government organizations and libraries to private groups and historical records collections, there are a number of common acronyms referring to institutions and organizations:

  • AOP - American Order of Pioneers

  • APG - Association of Professional Genealogists

  • ASG - American Society of Genealogists

  • BIA - Bureau of Indian Affairs

  • BLM - Bureau of Land Management

  • CDA - Colonial Dames of America

  • DAR - Daughters of the American Revolution

  • FF - First Families

  • FHL - Family History Library

  • NARA - National Records and Archives Administration

  • NGS - National Genealogical Society

A Better Understanding of Your Family History

As you study genealogy, you’ll encounter more than a few acronyms, but you’ll also run into fascinating historical facts and genealogical connections to famous people like Leo Tolstoy and others. Understanding the acronyms and abbreviations gives you a better understanding of your own family history. 

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