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Glossary of terms

What's the difference between restoration, preservation and conservation? Why does the word 'cataloguing' mean different things to different people? The staff at the LMA will tell you all about the words and phrases they encounter on a daily basis.

Reader Services


Catalogue of documents, which gives a summary of the information contained in them.


This is an electronic catalogue used at LMA. It is an effective way to browse the records on a subject of your choice. It will give you clear directions to the detailed paper catalogues in the Reference Room.


Each document has its own unique reference number. To find this you need to consult Archive catalogues or lists. These will tell you more about a document. There is sometimes a brief description, covering dates and other information relevant to that item.

Collection Time

The time when order slips are collected from the public rooms by the Service Assistants. Using the information on the slip, the document will be locatedin the strongrooms and produced for the reader within a designated time.

Family Tree/Pedigree

Diagram showing connections and relationships in a family. Symbols are used to represent the relationships within the family such as births, marriages and deaths. The diagrams often look like a tree hence the term Family Tree.

Finding Aid

Finding Aids help you identify the documents you need. They may be in the form of a printed catalogue or index or a computer database such as CATALIST. They will contain a range of information from basic details to full calendars.

Genealogy/Family History

The study of tracing descendants to create a Family History or Family Tree from the evidence of primary sources.


This is a cheap means of reproducing information which would normally be very costly to reproduce. Microfiche are usually about the size of a photograph and look like photographic negatives.


Many of the documents, especially parish registers, at LMA have been copied onto microfilm to preserve the originals. Microfilms consist of a spool of film which is read using a microfilm reader. The film is threaded onto the microfilm reader and viewed on the screen.

Primary Sources

These are original source materials, usually in document form such as parish registers, electoral registers or workhouse records.

Reading Room

This is where the archives are produced when ordered. It is a quiet room for research and examination of original sources. Pencil only must be used in the Reading Room.

Reference Room

The main research room at LMA. This is where you will find the Archive lists, CATALIST, the microfilms and microfilm readers and other printed resources for family history and other research. Staff are on hand to advise.

Secondary Sources

Books or commentaries written about events in history. They are based on primary sources, which the writer has used to piece together the events and to interpret them.