Gramps Glossary

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This Glossary gives an overview of terms that appear in Gramps, with a short description, and a link to relevant articles.

For a glossary of genealogical terms, see Genealogy Glossary.
For a list of pages dedicated to terms in this Glossary, see Category:Terminology

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Active Person
(core concept) - The person designated as the momentary center of focus in the open Gramps database. The perspective of this person defines the context for actions and for displaying all the surrounding information. Changing this focus is done by navigating the Active Person selection to another person.
(sec. obj.) - The Gramps concept of an Address is a particular location with an associated time frame. Think of it as a mailing address. It is intended to represent where a person lived and when the person lived there. The Address consists:
  • Date
  • Street Address
  • Locality
  • City
  • County
  • State/Province
  • Postal/Zip code
  • Country
  • Phone
Not to be confused with a Place which has a fixed position (its location). Use this with care. For genealogical research you can also use the residence event coupled with a Place. For mailing (email, postal), add an address to a Person or Repository.
(event role) A term to refer to the role of an assistant.
process of making something English
(sec. obj.) - Attributes are for something permanent, or at least somewhat permanent: eye color, blood type, etc. Usually you would have not more than one of each attribute type for a Person/Family/etc.


(event role) A term to refer to the woman a marriage ceremony who will have the role of wife in the marriage. See also: mother.


(event role) A term describing a role of the person who performs a rite, especially referring to a priest at the Eucharist.
(Citations prim. obj.) - Contains the information that enables you or others to locate your source document. An isolated Citation can be created without first creating separate Source object. But, should the same source be referenced repeatedly in a Tree, a separate Source simplifies the Citation and eliminates redundant information that must be harmonized.
(event role) A term applied to a religious person regardless of religion. For example, a monk or priest. See also: celebrant.
Religious terminology is often subject to dispute, see the Merriam-Webster for an independent definition.
custom Types
This indicates a user defined type, as opposed to types that came pre-defined in Gramps. When none of the pre-defined Types are suitable, add a new custom Type by typewriting directly into the selector combo box. If the value doesn't precisely match any of the existing menu items, a new custom Type will be created when the OK button is clicked.
Any added custom Type will remain available in that expanded menu... unless the Tree is exported & re-imported or via a 3rd party addon Utility like Type Cleanup.
custom Types can be defined for: Event Attributes, Family Attributes, media Attributes, Person Attributes, Event Roles, Event types, Family Relation types, Child Reference Types, Name Origin Types, Names Types, Note Types, Place Types, Repository Types, Source Attributes, source Media Types, URL Types.


(sec. obj.) - Dates in Gramps are much more complex than just a month, day, and year. Dates are always in a particular calendar, can span a time frame, the Date Quality can be approximate, and have support for many other subtleties specific to genealogy data.
  1. acronym: deoxyribonucleic acid
  2. a nucleic acid that carries genetic information.
acronym: Document Type Definition. A document that defines the tagging structure which identifies the individual components of an SGML or XML document.


(Events prim. obj.) - Contains the information related to an event.
A defining moment in a person's life. See events for the use in genealogy, for predefined events in Gramps and suggested naming for common events.
event role
The role a Person plays in an Event. In Gramps, an Event can be linked to as many participants as desired. Each Person may partipate in different roles but more than one Person might play the same role. The Event Role captures this. Some common Roles are pre-defined but the user can add other custom Roles by just typing in an appropriate new Role Type in the Event Reference Editor.
Pre-defined Types of Event Role: Aide, Bride, Celebrant, Clergy, Family, Groom, Informant, Primary, Witness, Unknown, custom
event type
The general denominator to which an event belongs, e.g., a christian, civil, tibetan, ... marriage, are all denoted by the event type marriage. See events in Gramps for an overview.


  1. Gramps-family.png
    Family (Family prim. obj.) - Contains the information specific to relationships between people. This typically contains one or two parents and zero or more children.
    The Family relationship is a core concept in Gramps. It depicts the basic relations between people. Commonly this will contain a father, a mother and some children, however, it can also contain only parts of this (e.g., two brothers, a mother and child). People can be part of several families (adoption, remarried, ...)
  2. Family (event role) An event can be coupled to a family, denoting that the entire family was involved in the event. Typically the Marriage event will be coupled to a family with event role family
A filter in a database hides (filters out) records, displaying only those records that match a specified criteria. In Gramps, the criteria can be simple or complex, with multiple levels. The basic Search is a simple filter that compares only a single attribute of a record. The Filter Gramplet compares several attributes simultaneously. The Custom Filter allows highly complex Rules-based compares with layers of intersection options for those rules. (Additional Rules are are available as addons.) Each increased capability slows performance of the interface.


  1. acronym: Genealogy Data Communication
  2. a format for exchanging genealogical data. The open specification for the GEDCOM format was developed by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) as an aid to genealogical research. The last standard release was version 5.5 in 1996 with a 5.5.1 draft update presented for comment in 1999. As an Open Standard, there are extensive and constantly changing incompatibilities between implementations and data loss when transferring GEDCOM formatted data between competing software tools is common.
Gramps is an open-source genealogy program, a free software project and community.
The reverse engineered GRAMPS (Genealogical Research and Analysis Management Programming System) acronym is being phased out in favor of Gramps as the official name of the software. All upper-case software names have become unfashionable.
a Gramplet is a plug-in or addon widget that extends the functionality of Gramps by providing a dynamic view and interface to the Family Tree data. 3rd party Gramplets, reports, quick views, and tools are managed with the Plug-in Manager.
See the Gramplets for Python Developers for independent development information.
(event role) A term to refer to the man at a marriage who will be referred to as husband after the marriage. See also: father.


Gramps Go-Home48x48 win.png
Home Person
(core concept) - The persistently designated Home Person is the foundational Person in the Tree (the currently open Gramps database). This Person is the central target of genealogical research and family references extend from this center. Ideally, every person, event and source in the Tree will (however directly or indirectly) relate back to the Home Person.
By default, the database reports describe everything else in contextual relation to this person. The Status Bar, the Quick View called "Relation to Home Person", and the Gramplet called "Deep Connections" all describe different aspects of the relationship of the Active Person to the Home Person.
You (or your client) are customarily designated (set) as the Home Person. And this Home designation serves as a persistent point of reference for the rest of the the Tree in Reports generally and for the Active Person in detail. But a different Home Person might be temporarily set when generating reports or when researching a complex biography or obituary.
Fascinating tidbits often lure Gramps researchers into wandering off-course. When the Active Person has become lost, the bearings can be instantly regained by navigating the Active Person selection back to the Home Person.
Navigate to Home Person - keyboard shortcut Alt+Home or press the toolbar Gramps Go-Home48x48 win.pngHome button.
The custom filter rule for finding the Home Person is in a People category filter under the General filters and is named 'Default person.'


(event role) A term to refer to the Role of Person who reports an Event.





(origin Name attrib.) - personal name based on the name of one's mother
(Media prim. obj.) - Contains the information related to a media object. This includes images, documents, or any other type of related files.


Name Origin
An optional attribute (characteristic) identifying how a name was derived for a Person. Pre-defined items of the origin selection menu include: inherited, patrilineal, matrilineal, given, taken, patronymic, matronymic, feudal, pseudonym, occupation.
Available as a standard attribute of Names in Gramps.
(Notes prim. obj.) - Contains the information related to a note. Records in the Note Category contain free-form text with basic formatting and linking features. That text is created and modified using the Notes Editor.



(origin Name attrib.) - personal name based on the name of one's father.
(People prim. obj.) - Contains the information specific to an individual person in the People category.
(Places prim. obj.) - The Gramps concept of a Place is a particular location independent of time. Over time, the same Place may have different address information due to changing borders and political situation. For example, Leningrad and St. Petersburg represent the same place, but with different names. Places in Gramps are stored in a hierarchy. A Place consists of:
  • Descriptive Title
  • Name
  • Type (such as country, state, county ...)
  • Longitude/Latitude
  • Code (such as a country code or postal code)
  • A list of alternative names for the place
  • A list of regions which enclose the place
Portable Operating System Interface: a family of OS standards specified by the IEEE Computer Society for maintaining compatibility with variants of Unix (such as Linux) and other operating systems. Although the MacOS is "POSIX-certified", the term is used in this manual to generically refer to just the "Mostly POSIX-compliant" Linux and BSD distributions with verified Gramps downloads and which use the POSIX-style environment.
primary object
Primary objects are the top level objects. They contain a hierarchy of secondary objects, and can be referenced by other primary or secondary objects. In the Gramps database, primary objects and the secondary objects that they contain are stored as separate records. Each primary object type is stored in a separate table. See Using database API, Primary Objects (see also secondary object)
The primary objects are:
Citations Citation, Events Event, Family Family, Media Media, Notes Note, People Person, Places Place, Repositories Repository, Sources (v3.4.x) Source, 16x16-gramps-tag.png Tag.
Private tag
The Private option tags information that should be redacted when sharing data or printing reports. Records are shown with: a locked padlock when private; and, an unlocked padlock when public. Clicking the padlock icon toggles between public & private. This manual override supplements the automated Probably Alive and custom Filter features.



the basic a system of linking relationships between objects in Gramps. When when an object is added in the Editor for record, a Reference (link) is created in the object that was added.
References tab
a system of linking between objects in Gramps. When objects of Gramps are linked, the References tab lists the objects to link toward it.
(Repositories prim. obj.) - Contains the information related to a physical or virtual structure where genealogical and family history sources are stored. Once a Repository is added to a Gramps Tree, it can used to organize Sources.
function performed or part played by a person (or other Gramps object) in a particular situation. When objects of Gramps are linked, a Reference is created where the Role disambiguates the relative nature of the reference. see event role
linguistic representation of a word in the Roman (Latin) alphabet


secondary object
Secondary objects are contained within other objects, and cannot be referenced directly. They can contain other secondary objects. Examples include: Name, Date and Address. See Using database API, Secondary Objects (see also primary object)
(Sources (v3.4.x) prim. obj.) - A person (family, friend, another researcher), thing (book, magazine newspaper, census), or place (courthouse, church, library, genealogical/historical society) from which information comes, arises, or is obtained. After adding a Source to a Gramps Tree, the Source can be referenced in Citations and organized with Repositories.


(16x16-gramps-tag.png prim. obj.) - A label that can be attached to a Citations Citation, Events Event, Family Family, Media Media, Notes Note, People Person, Places Place, Repositories Repository or Sources (v3.4.x) Source for the purpose of easy identification and filtering.
A keyword or phrase used to group the collection to produce a report.


(event role) A placeholder for when the role of a participant in an Event has not yet been defined. Gramps sets an appropriate default Role as each new Event type is created. But when a new participant is associated with an existing Event via Share or drag'n'drop, the Role isn't as predictable. In such a case, an Unknown placeholder is inserted. Any Unknown Event Role type causes a variety of reporting problems and should be manually replaced as soon as is practical.


(graphical user interface terminology) - a View is a Gramps-specific name for the Window layouts presenting information in a structured and predictable manner. Layouts are in table, outline or graphical formats; depending on the preferred way to represent how the data elements relate to on another.
Gramps divides and organizes the information about each Primary Object into a series of Categories, each with their own View. Each of the Category Views displays a smaller, more digestible portion of the total information that comprises a Genealogical Tree. View data may be further subdivided with tabbed pages of layouts.


(event role) The term that applies to the people asked to be present at an event so as to be able to testify to its having taken place


acronym: Extensible Markup Language



Wiki manual

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