Key Genealogy Abbreviations and Acronyms

By Family Tree Editors

Like any pursuit, genealogy has its share of acronyms and abbreviations for prominent organizations, go-to resources, and often-used terms. You’ll find some of them scrawled on records, while others are terms you may see at conferences or on message boards.

Need help with the alphabet soup? This guide to common genealogy abbreviations and acronyms will help you decipher all those terms. We’ve included special pronunciations where necessary.

Get Your Free Genealogy Forms

"*" indicates required fields

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Record Abbreviations



abr.: abridged, abridgement

abs. or abst.: abstract

acc.: according to; account; accompanied/accompanied by


adm. or admin.: administrator, administration

aka: also known as

als.: alias

anc.: ancestor

appx.: appendix


B (uppercase): Black, indicating race

b. (lowercase): born

bp. or bpt.: baptized; birthplace

bu. or bur.: buried


c. or cir.: circa

cem.: cemetery

CH: courthouse

ch.: children; church; chaplain

chr.: christened (baptized)

conf.: confirmed

CW: Civil War


d.: died

decd. or dec’d: deceased

div.: divorced


ED: enumeration district, a geographical division defined for a US census


FR: family register


gdn. or grdn.: guardian


inf.: infantry

inhab.: inhabitant, inhabited


jud.: judicial

junr.: junior


lic.: license

liv.: living


m. or md.: married

mil.: military

mo.: month


na.: naturalized

n.d.: no date; not dead

nm: never married


obit.: obituary

OS: “Old Style” calendar


p.o.a.: power of attorney

pr.: proved; probated

p.r.: parish register


RC: Roman Catholic

reg.: register

res.: residence; research

ret.: retired


s.: son

s. & h.: son and heir

s/o: son of

srnm.: surname


T. or twp.: township


unk.: unknown

unm.: unmarried

Genealogy Industry Abbreviations and Acronyms


AAGG: African-American Genealogy Group

AAHGS: Afro-American Historical and Genealogical Society

ACPL: Allen County Public Library in Fort Wayne, Ind.

AGBI: American Genealogical-Biographical Index

AAD: Access to Archival Databases (part of NARA’s website)

AG: Accredited Genealogist, a professional credential conferred by ICAPGen

AIC: American Institute for Conservation

APG: Association of Professional Genealogists

ARC (defunct): Archival Research Catalog, now the National Archives Catalog (part of NARA’s website)

atDNA: autosomal DNA, the type of DNA that is frequently used in genetic genealogy testing


BCG: Board for Certification of Genealogists


CG: Certified Genealogist, a professional credential conferred by the BCG

CGL: Certified Genealogical Lecturer, a professional credential conferred by the BCG

CMSR: Compiled Military Service Record

CWSS: Civil War Soldiers & Sailors System


DARDaughters of the American Revolution (also NSDAR: National Society, Daughters of the American Revolution)


FEEFHS (“feef-us”): Foundation for East European Family History Societies

FGS (defunct): Federation of Genealogical Societies (merged with NGS in 2020)

FHC: Family History Center, a branch of the Family History Library

FHL: Family History Library in Salt Lake City

FHLC (mostly defunct): FHL Catalog, now the FamilySearch Catalog

FOIA: Freedom of Information Act

FTMFamily Tree Maker genealogy software


GAR: Grand Army of the Republic, a network of organizations for Civil War Union veterans

GEDCOM (“jed-com”): Genealogical Data Communication, the computer file format for family tree data (.ged is the extension for these files)

GLO: Bureau of Land Management General Land Office

GPS: Genealogical Proof Standard, a set of best practices published by BCG


HQO: HeritageQuest Online genealogy databases, offered through many libraries


IAJGS: International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies

ICAPGen: (“eye-cap-jen”) International Commission for the Accreditation of Professional Genealogists

IGI: The International Genealogical Index, curated by the FHL between 1973 and 2008 and now a collection on FamilySearch

ISOGGInternational Society of Genetic Genealogy


LOC: U.S. Library of Congress


MRCA: most recent common ancestor between two people, often DNA matches

mtDNA: mitochondrial DNA (a type of DNA that is used in genetic genealogy testing to research female-line ancestors)


NARA (“nar-uh”): National Archives and Records Administration

NEHGS (sometimes called “hiss-jen”): New England Historic Genealogical Society, also known as American Ancestors

NGS: National Genealogical Society


OR: The Civil War reference The War of the Rebellion: A compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies


PAF (“paff”; defunct): Personal Ancestral File genealogy software, retired in 2013

PALAM (“pal-am”): Palatines to America

PERSI (“per-zee”): Periodical Source Index to family history articles in US and Canadian magazines and journals


RMRootsMagic genealogy software


SAR (“sahr”): Sons of the American Revolution

SCGS: Southern California Genealogical Society

SGGEE (sometimes pronounced “squeegee”): Society for German Genealogy in Eastern Europe

SUVCW: Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War


TMG (defunct): The Master Genealogist genealogy software, discontinued in 2014


WDYTYA?: The genealogy television series “Who Do You Think You Are?” (can refer to NBC’s/TLC’s US version or BBC’s British version)

WRHS: Western Reserve Historical Society in Cleveland


Y-DNA: Y-chromosomal DNA (a type of DNA used in genetic genealogy testing to research male-line ancestors)

Versions of this article appeared in the November 2003 Trace Your Family History and The Family Tree Pocket Reference, 2nd edition (Family Tree Books).

Last updated: September 2022.

By entering your email, you will automatically be signed up to receive Family Tree’s free email newsletters, plus updates and special offers from Family Tree and carefully selected partners. is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to and affiliated websites.