To some people, this is a source of frustration as the difference between the two is clear. For others, there is no difference and their interchangeability is acceptable. With this in mind, we ask whether there is a difference and if it matters.
The simplest way to explain the traditional difference between the two terms is that genealogy is a subset of family history.
Wikipedia defines genealogy as:
The study of families and the tracing of their lineages and history.
Wikipedia then goes on to define family history as:
The systematic narrative and research of past events relating to a specific family, or specific families.
In other words, genealogy has traditionally been a mere component of family history research – more specifically the component concerned with the research and recording of lineage.
Below is a good list of the subsets of family history (including genealogy) as outlined in the above-referenced Wikipedia article:
Now comes the tricky bit.
English is a living language that changes over time in line with colloquial use of words.
As the terms genealogy and family history are used ever more interchangeably it can be argued that there is no real difference between them.
What do you think? Is there a difference? Should we maintain the traditional separation or, if modern language has merged the two, should we accept that the words are interchangeable?
We really want to know what you think about the differences between family history and genealogy. We look forward to reading your opinions in the comments below
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