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The Definition of Genealogy   l   The Origin of Genealogy   Types of Genealogy
The Present State of Genealogy Research   l   Genealogy Terms  l   Reading a Genealogy

1. You must first determine what clan you are from. If you cannot determine your own clan, you must know what area your ancestors originated from, and then you can confirm what clans lived in that area. If you do not know what clan you originated from, you have no choice but to search the records one by one to find your genealogy. The name of a clan often originates from the title, pen name, or honorific title of the progenitor of the clan and the location in which the clan resided. To find the clan in a genealogical record, one must search pedigrees and lines of descent. If one searches a genealogical record, the pedigrees of each clan will be listed, and therefore you can determine what volumes to search for a more detailed record.

2. You also need to know what generation (se (世, 세)) you are in the clan pedigree. Because members of the same se are arranged horizontally, it is easy to find members of the same bloodline. You can determine the se number by the hangnyeolja (行列字, 항렬자), or common syllable used among those of the same se.

3. You must know the hangnyeolja of the se you are looking for and the name recorded in the genealogy. Although the name used at home may have been different, the hangnyeolja is always used when an entry is made in the family register.

Every genealogy has an introduction (序文, 서문). This is usually a written summary of wonderful deeds done by ancestors to promote high thinking and emphasizes the importance and necessity of publishing the genealogy. The name of the genealogy ends with "bo (譜, 보)" (for example, Gyeongobo (庚午譜, 경오보)) and is usually indicative of the year of publication.

The genealogy starts with the Shijo (始祖, 시조, Progenitor) and the bijo (鼻祖, 비조, Founding Father) of a clan and lists descendants according to their dae(代, 대) generation. There are usually about six sections per page, and the ja (字, 자) or ho (號, 호) names will be recorded alongside if the descendant had one. Birth and death dates are also listed. If a person died before the age of twenty, the words yojeol (夭折, 요절) or joyo (早夭, 조요) will be recorded to indicate premature death. Those who died before the age of seventy will be recorded as hyangnyeon (享年, 향년), and those who surpass seventy years of age are recorded as su (壽, 수) to indicate such.

A shiho (諡號, 시호), or posthumous epithet, will be recorded if one is given such, as well as government positions served. Spouses are indicated by bae (配, 배), and her town of origin, father's name, and father's government positions are also recorded. Burial details, including the location of the tomb, the stone guardians placed on the tomb, and whether the husband and wife were buried together are also recorded.

The words chulhu (出后, 출후) and chulgye (出繼, 출계) are recorded to indicate when heirs are adopted from other families, and these adopted sons are referred to as gyeja (繼子, 계자). They are also recorded in the family register as seoeol (庶蘖, 서얼), or legitimized sons.

In the old days, daughters' names were not recorded in the genealogy; instead, they claimed the names and towns of origin of their husbands. Only the names of their children were recorded, but more recently their names, birth dates, husbands' names, and children's names are being recorded in the genealogy.


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