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Proformat News
No: 62
April 2011
April Seminars
None programmed at this time.

May Seminars
6: Tracing your English ancestors 6:30 to 9:30pm
8: Heritage Walk—Glenelg, settlement/resort 1:00 to 3:00pm
9: Finding SA families in newspapers 8:00pm to 10:00pm
15: Heritage Walk—Historic Houghton 1:00 to 3:00pm
22: Heritage Walk—North Adelaide Cathedral precinct 1:00 to 3:00pm
27: Tracing your Scottish ancestors 6:30 to 9:30pm
28: Coming to grips with FamilySearch, WEA Centre Adelaide, 10:00am to 1:00pm
29: Heritage Walk—Port Adelaide heritage precinct 1:00 to 3:00pm
All hosted by the WEA Centre Adelaide

See the seminar program for more details and bookings.

May is history month in SA
History week usually held at the end of each May under the leadership of HistorySA has been expanded to embrace the whole month to coincide with 175 celebrations of formal European settlement in SA. Many organisations are planning activities for the month including the WEA (see May seminars above) and readers can obtain a program of events from HistorySA and many other venues.

Australian Heritage Week

The Commonwealth Government has declared 14 to 20 April as Australian Heritage Week. As part of the celebrations, Graham Jaunay will be leading a heritage walk around Semaphore entitled. Esplanade and shops, on behalf of The Friends of SA Archives. If you are interested in joining in this walk, additional details will be available by sending an email to Adelaide Proformat.

In this issue:
iApril seminars
May seminars
May is history month in SA
Australian Heritage Week

Feature article
Standard abbreviations for the genealogist


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Standard abbreviations for genealogists
The problem with abbreviations is their inconsistency and that can lead to misinterpretation and consequently errors. This can be a major issue for family historians as demonstrated in the example from FamilySearch pictured. The family sent off the entry as Adelaide SA and the LDS (that is an abbreviation for the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints) wrongly interpreted SA as South Africa when in fact at that time it was RSA (it is now ZAF). Regardless a simple check reveals no Adelaide on the African continent.

Abbreviations if to be used should follow some standards and preferably widely used ones. Where in doubt avoid them! For an idea of the confusion and why some authorities publish their in-house standards see: Abbreviations. Here we see an overwhelming list and if all options were used then data would become unintelligible!

Some of the biggest offenders are online family history sites. In FamilySearch we can see a range of abbreviations on the same page being used for the same county. Fortunately in this case none should lead to misinterpretation! I spotted Staf, Staffs, Stafford, Staffordshire and of these, the second but last one is the most confusing, being the name of the town rather than the county! Moreover, an American soldier thinks Staffs represents Simulated Training and Analysis for Fixed Facilities/Sites!

I would insist on two rules when using abbreviations.
   1. Avoid using them in prose where space is not a premium, and,
   2. If you use an abbreviation have an explanation key somewhere in the publication.

Good abbreviations should be intuitive and explain themselves in their context. Readers should not have problems with the following examples:

   C7th document; b. 4 Jul 1856 Brighton SSX; 17cm; Hd of Barossa; bro/o Paul; pre-1840

There are a number of bodies that publish standards and where the following list omits data, the appropriate national authority should be the reference. For example the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) should be the authority for appropriate abbreviations for electoral data.

The following list addresses these matters and family historians are encouraged to consider using such material

Word/s etc
Dates dd Mon yyyy 06 Nov 1896. Ordinals not used A notation like 01/02/03 could mean 1 February 2003 or 2 January 2003 or 2 March 2001; consideration could be given to ISO 8601 – yyyy-mm-dd (all digit format for input purposes but display as expected in AUS)
Although not an issue in AUS, we need to recognise the need to accommodate dates in UK between 1582–1752 when Julian Calendar in vogue – format dd Mon yyyy/y
Always recorded in full. The place noted should be its name at the time of the event.
Country names ISO 3166-3 Always use uppercase Source:
State/Country/Province Australia PO codes Country code not required; always uppercase Source:
Britain Chapman Country code not required; always uppercase Source:
World ISO 316-2 where not unique the 3-letter country code should be prefixed as in USA-IL Source:
Common genealogical event terms birth b.

Always lowercase followed by a period

Add place details thus:
b. 11 Jul 1892 Adelaide SA

Subs marriages m2. etc

baptism c.
marriage m. m1. etc
divorce div.
death d.
burial bu.
cremation crm.
 widow/er wid.
Land terms county Co Uppercase initial letter.

Start with the smallest measure and work up, thus:
Lt 24 Sct 2091 Hd of Adelaide
See also measures
hundred Hd
section Sct
lot Lt
Military terms       Source: Oz at War
Time before noon am avoid use of periods – no spaces between digit and abbrev 2pm or 2:00pm  
after noon pm
century C a prefix as C19
about ca avoid use of periods – no spaces between digit and abbrev ca1910
before pre- no spaces between abbrev and digit pre-1947
after post eg post 1856
Awards Military     Australian Government postnominals
Academic     Adelaide University
Relationships father f hence:father off/o  
mother mo  
brother bro  
sister sis  
grand/great g hence: gf, ggf
uncle unc  
cousin cou hence: 1cou
daughter dau  
-in-law -i-l hence: dau-i-l
step st- hence: st-bro
Measures metric SI system
ISO 31
use the measure appropriate to the time frame Source: SIO 31-1
Writing SI units and symbols
imperial   Source:

Ann abbreviation only works if it is understood by all potential readers. Frankly, I use them sparingly in charts and never in writing.
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