Saturday, July 2, 2011

Coat of Arms and Family Research

A Great Tool to Unscramble Historical Mysteries
Unfortunately, family historians often fail to familiarize themselves with heraldic records and repositories. However, this is a valuable tool especially for early colonial researchers. Recently I penned Coats of Arms and Family Research for Archives.com, an online genealogy magazine, to give a quick primer on the value of heraldic records as a tool for family research.  Of course, we are not referring to the local shopping center's "kiosk coat of arms" or "souvenirs" but an authentic, timely-registered coat of arms. 

Relevance of Coat of Arms
Legitimate coats of arms are inherently full of genealogical data. By decoding the coat of arms, genealogists versed in the history of the twelfth to seventeenth centuries, can determine ethnic origin, class status, and social history of an ancestor using heraldic records and repositories.  Most often I use heraldic records to distinguish families with common surnames, purge parasites from colonial genealogical trees, or to determine parentage, as well as home place and region.  

In Europe, paternal coat of arms were used for proper identification from 1250 and 1500.  But from 1500 - 1750, on both sides of the ocean, a coat of arms was used as a status symbol, designating rank, landownership, wealth or fame. So, a legitimate coat of arms may assist in connecting an immigrant ancestor to his European origin.   

Where to Begin
Of course the family researcher will want to become familiar with heraldic terms, regulations, customs and designs. A great place to start...
1) Read Coats of Arms and Family Research  published on the Archives.com website.
2)  Research heraldic authority records, registrations and petitions to discover information on an arm-bearing ancestor
Happy Heraldic Hunting
Kathleen Brandt
a3Genealogy@gmail.com

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