This section defines the terms used in this STEMMA data-model description. Some of these, such as attribute, element, and document, also have XML semantics. The usage here has tried to be compatible with those semantics even though they are technically independent. Also see the supplemental glossary for Dates and Calendars.



Abstract Entity

An entity (q.v.) with an Abstract=’1’ attribute. Such entities are designed to be used as base entities for inheritance (q.v.) and must not contain any Key references.


Address (or Postal Address)

A sequence of terms that direct traditional mail (e.g. letters, packages, etc) to a particular recipient. Contrast with place and location (qq.v.).



The representation of a unique physical non-human animal, including their properties, parentage, event history, and biographical narrative.



Text annotation is the addition of meta-data (related textual or other information) to a body of text. See also Mark-up (q.v.)



An item of data or meta-data associated with an element (q.v.). Effectively a name-value pair. This definition is in keeping with the XML interpretation, although technically distinct.



A STEMMA document (q.v.) and any local attachments (e.g. images) that it references, bundled together for transmission as a whole.



A mechanism by which dates are reckoned in a given culture. For instance, Gregorian, Julian, etc.



A written or printed identification of a source of information. See citation mode, citation style, and layered citation (qq.v.). In STEMMA, a Citation entity (q.v.) is a generalised description of a source (q.v.), the location of a source, or the location of information (q.v.) within a source.


Citation Element

A specific datum, or iterated list of data (as with page numbers), that are required to generate a citation (q.v.). Also see citation template.


Citation Mode

The written or printed mechanism employed to achieve a citation (q.v.). For instance, a source label, a reference note, or a bibliographic entry.


Citation Reference

In STEMMA, a reference to a Citation entity (q.v.) with parameters that identify the associated source, source location, or item of information in that source.


Citation Style

The style of a written or printed citation, including the order of the parameters, punctuation, and use of italics etc. Examples in the humanities include CMOS, Harvard referencing, MLA. Evidence Explained (EE) is the most common for genealogy.


Citation Template

A specification for how citation elements (q.v.) should be processed in order to generate a formatted citation (q.v.).



See inference (q.v.).



A relational connection between two Events that orders them and places limits on their dates, even when those dates may not be fully determined.


Controlled Vocabulary

A fixed set of predefined termed used for the description or classification of data. See Controlled vocabulary. Contrast with partially controlled vocabulary (q.v.).



The confidence in the information from a source as being unbiased and unembellished. Contrast with Quality, Reliability, and Surety (qq.v.).



A named, self-contained sub-section of a STEMMA document (q.v.).


Date Entity, Date Value

A computer-readable date as reckoned according to a given calendar (q.v.). A date value is a specific date encoded in a text string, whereas the date entity also represents granularity (q.v.), imprecision (q.v.), and synchronised dates.


Date String

A date as originally written, including transcribed version thereof. A date value (q.v.) or date entity (q.v.) formatted for readability by a user.


Deep Semantics

The nature of a datum (e.g. a date reference, or a person reference) including a conclusion identifying the target (e.g. the actual date, or the actual person). Contrast with shallow semantics (q.v.).


Definite Source

Identification of a specific source (q.v.) that was accessed or consulted during research. Contrast with indefinite source (q.v.). Analogous to the definite article in grammar.


Discursive Notes

Commentary or notes that digress from the main subject. Usually presented using footnotes or endnotes.



A complete STEMMA file, or its representation in memory or in a communications network. This definition is in keeping with the XML interpretation, although technically distinct.


Drill Down

Originally a BI process where selecting a summarised datum or a hierarchical field — usually with a click in a GUI tool — revealed the underlying data from which it was derived. The term was used routinely during the early 1990s when a new breed of data-driven OLAP product began to emerge. Used here to describe the process of “opening” a conclusion to see the supporting evidence (including any proof argument), the raw information that was used as evidence, and eventually to the underlying source.



A logical part of a STEMMA document (q.v.). A Document is effectively a tree of nested elements. This definition is in keeping with the XML interpretation, although technically distinct.



See footnote (q.v.).



A data-model representation of a micro-history (q.v.) item. These are top-level elements in a dataset (q.v.) and usually have a Key by which they can be referenced. See Person, Animal, Place, Group, Event, Citation, Resource, Source, and Matrix (qq.v.). See also abstract entity (q.v.).



In everyday life, an event is something that happened at a particular place and time, or over a span of time. The Event entity (q.v.), though, represents a date, or range of dates, for which source information exists. It effectively provides a where-and-when context for the referenced subjects. See simple Event, protracted Event, and hierarchical Event (qq.v.).



Information (q.v.) that either supports or contradicts a statement or claim.


Family History

A type of micro-history (q.v.) concerned with people’s lives within a family context. See genealogy (q.v.).



Paragraph of text appearing at the end of a page (footnote) or chapter, volume, or whole text (endnote). General mechanism for adding commentary, notes, or source references linked to a location in the main text.



In its literal sense, the study of biological lineage. In its more generic usage, any type of research involving families. See family history (q.v.).



The date unit or concept that a date-value is representing, e.g. a day, a month, a decade, or a century. This is similar to a ‘period’ in the GEDCOM model. Contrast with imprecision (q.v.).



A STEMMA entity (q.v.) representing an organised real-world entity, such as a regiment, organisation, or school/class.  Individual subject entities (q.v.) — currently only Persons and Animals — may be associated with a Group over given spans of time. It may, therefore, be used to model different interpretations of a family unit.


Hierarchical Event

A protracted Event (q.v.) which is the parent of one or more other Events. This mechanism allows the finer structure of a protracted Event to be described.



The uncertainty or range of possibilities for a date specification. This is a different concept to the date unit being referenced. This is similar to a ‘range’ in the GEDCOM model. Contrast with granularity (q.v.).


Indefinite Source

A generic identification of a source (q.v.) that may be available from many different places, and for which provenance and analytical notes are irrelevant. Common in scientific journals. Contrast with definite source (q.v.). Analogous to the indefinite article in grammar.



A reasoned judgment or decision based on evidence (q.v.) derived from information (q.v.) obtained from sources (q.v.). The judgement includes both the reasoning and any associated conclusion.



Semantic data obtained from a source (q.v.).



A mechanism that allows an entity (q.v.) to share parts of the definition of a parent entity.  In STEMMA, this currently occurs for Events, Citations, and Resources (qq.v.).


Layered Citation

A form of citation used to describe the different derivative states of a consulted source through to its original form; usually separated by semicolons. May also include analytical notes.



A fixed geographical point or area, usually referenced by its coordinates. Contrast with place and address (qq.v.).



The scheme by which text annotation (q.v.) is represented or encoded.


Matrix Entity

Entity representing the profiled (q.v.) information from multiple sources (q.v.).



History on a smaller scale than world history. Often researching smaller units such as local places, families, ordinary people, surnames, and the fine-grained events that interrelate them.



A container for a set of names or other identifiers. Each namespace typically has an identifier of its own unless it is the default one.



The name-value pairs employed by a Citation or Resource reference to identify specific information or data.



A mechanism where parameter values are applied to an entity in order to modify its context. This is supported for Citations and Resources (qq.v.). Parameters may be inherited from a base entity, specified in the body of an entity, or specified in a reference to that entity. All of these schemes work together.


Partially Controlled Vocabulary

A set of core predefined terms for the description or categorisation of data that allows for extensions. Extensions are usually defined within alternative namespaces. Contrast with controlled vocabulary (q.v.).



The representation of a unique physical person, including their properties, parentage, event history, and biographical narrative.


Persona (pl. Personae)

A description of some person from one specific information source, and with no interpretation. See Genealogical Persona Non Grata.



A named point or area deemed to have significance to humans. Contrast with location and address (qq.v.).


Place Hierarchy

A description of a place (q.v.) in which each component of the reference is linked to a parent place with a broader context, e.g. house to street, to town, to county, to state, to country. See A Place for Everything.


Place Hierarchy Path

An ordered list of place (q.v.) names from a Place hierarchy (q.v.) that uniquely identifies the place. For instance, “15, Manning Grove, Nottingham, Nottinghamshire, England”. NB: the order and separator characters are both culturally dependent. See A Place for Everything.



(noun) The representation of a subject, object, statement, or concept from a source (q.v.) — such as a prototype subject (q.v.), event, date, or general words/phrase and its relationship to other profiles. (verb) To profile a source is to create these profile items for it.



A named datum representing extracted and summarised information from a source and associated with a Person, Animal, Place, Group, or Event (qq.v.). They are slightly more than simple name-value pairs since selected data-types may include a unit of measurement, an entity reference, or a list of associated values.


Protracted Event

An Event (q.v.) that has both a start and an end date.


Prototype Subject

Correlated references to some subject (person, animal, place, group) derived from one or more sources. Contrast with Subject Entity and Subject Reference (qq.v).



The confidence in a source as an accurate version of an original. Contrast with Credibility, Reliability, and Surety (qq.v.).


Reference Note

Source reference note. Source citation or commentary provided via a footnote or endnote (qq.v.).



The confidence in the information from a source as being first-hand or less direct. Contrast with Credibility, Quality, and Surety (qq.v.).



Entity (q.v.) describing digital and/or physical artefacts, including images and transcriptions.


Shallow Semantics

The nature of a datum (e.g. a date reference, or a person reference) without any conclusion being offered that identifies the target (e.g. the actual date, or the actual person). Contrast with deep semantics (q.v.).


Simple Event

An Event (q.v.) that has a single date.



Origin of information, such as an artefact, book, newspaper, person, census, photograph, Web site, etc. See definite and indefinite source (qq.v.).


Source Entity

Entity representing the profiled (q.v.) information from a given source (q.v.).


Source Format

A definitive plain-text machine-readable version of data that can be used for multiple purposes (e.g. backups, exchange between different products) or from which derivatives can be generated (e.g. loading into an indexed database product, or conversion to alternative formats). The term is analogous to source code in a programming context, which is a definitive representation that can be compiled for different machines, and in any locale.


Structured Narrative

Rich-text that uses semantic mark-up to link references to persons, animals, places, groups, and events, to their respective STEMMA entity (q.v.) representations, or to simply mark them for analysis purposes.


Subject Entity

Description of a subject mentioned in historical sources, e.g. Person, Animal, Place, Group (qq.v.), built up from aggregated evidence from multiple sources. Contrast with Subject References and Prototype Subjects (qq.v).


Subject Reference

Reference to some subject (person, animal, place, group) from a given source (q.v.). Contrast with Subject Entity and Prototype Subject (qq.v).



A numeric estimation of the confidence in a piece of evidence or a conclusion. For instance, a source may have contained original errors, and conclusions may include conjecture and speculation. Contrast with Credibility, Quality, and Reliability (qq.v.).



The allowable values for a given genealogical datum, such as event-type, person-property, place-type. See Controlled- and Partially Controlled Vocabulary (qq.v.).