Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Genealogy Gems Podcast Episode 117 FLOURISHES

Lisa Louise Cooke invited Ol' Myrt here to speak to my understanding of the use of the word "flourish" in answer to an email from one of Lisa's Genealogy Gems Podcast listeners. We recorded the session a few weeks back, and our interview episode is now live.

Lisa  is the producer and host of the very popular Genealogy Gems Podcast, an audio and video genealogy show available in iTunes. In addition, Lisa hosts the monthly Family Tree Magazine Podcast and videocasts for Family History Expos. She is a national genealogy speaker, and author of the book Genealogy Gems: Ultimate Research Strategies as well as the Genealogy Gems News Blog.

So about half-way through the episode, Lisa introduces the word "flourish" and brings Ol' Myrt on the show. We also discuss the use of the words "circa", "about" and "say" when figuring out how to best communicate with the non-genealogists in our families.  I'd never heard of the term "fl", nor had I run across it in old lineage books such as Burke's Peerage.
The term is based in Latin that a rare few researchers studied in high school or college.
Certainly, "flourish" would make an appropriate new entry in Eastman's Online Encyclopedia of Genealogy.

Likewise I found no entry for "fl" in the FamilySearch Wiki, which could also benefit from the addition. See:
I find it interesting that in our genre, some of the well-respected resources don't cite "fl" = flourish as a typical phrase for genealogists to encounter in their research.

However, when discussing the term with two highly regarded genealogy quarterly editors and a major genealogy library director, Ol' Myrt here learned "flourish" is used in history writings and in library cataloging. Listen to the Genealogy Gems Podcast #117 here, to find out more.

Should the average genealogists begin to use it? I think not, and here's why:
  • The idea of communicating is to use terms that are generally known, so as to succinctly express an idea to another.
  • Ancient (older than 50 years) records don't routinely use the "fl" term.
  • Since "circa" is a better-known term, though specific to a range of years for any life event and not inclusive as "fl" appears to mean. Circa is more readily recognized by the average genealogy researcher.
To Ol' Myrt the term "fl" for flourish simply means not enough research has been done to clearly distinguish the ancestor from others who lived in the same area at the same time. Even if we didn't know the birth date, we would refer to the ancestor as "Christopher Gist who bought property on the Pautuxent River in 1679" (followed by a footnote stating the sources that lead to that conclusion.) This sort of phraseology, and the use of the term "probably" and "appears to be the same" are phrases we see in scholarly journals in our genre such as NGS Quarterly, and the New England Historical Genealogical Society Quarterly.

Flourish means the time period in an adult's life where he was most productive, perhaps as a writer or member of the state assembly, and does not reflect his birth and death dates.

That being said, my own definitions are possibly skewed because I don't do research in Great Britain, where the rules for scholarly genealogical publications may be different. But, the word lists I've cited don't seem to support a general recognition of "fl" as a genealogy term.

Lisa also asks Ol' Myrt about Genea-Quilters 1812 Preserve the Pensions Quilt. Our Genea-Quilters Group on FB has just agreed to support the Federation of Genealogical Society's 1812 Preserve the Pensions by doing a quilt. We're very excited about this project, and find it a wonderful way to support this wonderful digitization project. The records will always be free.

Link to Genea-Quilters Group on FB:
Link to the 1812 Preserve the Pensions Project at the FGS:

Link to the 1812 Pensions already scanned:

Thanks, Lisa for inviting me on your show. 

Happy family tree climbing!
Myrt     :)
Your friend in genealogy.

1 comment:

  1. There's some information on this use of the term at:

    This also describes the abbreviation "fl".

    Tony Proctor