Prepared by Elisabeth Lindsay.
Genealogy is the study of family relationships and usually involves presenting your research results in the form of a family tree. The process involves collecting names (and other vital records) of both living relatives and ancestors from a variety of primary source and secondary source documentation.
People often refer to genealogy as family history, and the two are often interchangeable, although there is some distinction to be made. The practice of family history is more about collecting and sharing information on the lives of family members and often results in the publishing of complete family histories, life stories, biographies, etc. The word if genealogy and the publishing of a formal "genealogy," on the other hand, is about tracing the lineage, generation by generation, of one or more family line, and for some purposes providing proof of lineage. Professional genealogists may also provide a proof argument: a written explanation of the evidence and reasoning used to support a conclusion.