A genealogical corpus is a set of individuals linked by relations of kinship and marriage with basic and supplementary information for each individual that has been coded :

 Basic Information :

 Supplementary Information:


Tips for Collecting Kinship Data 
Data are not only a result but also a means of data collection. They should be easily accessible in order to guide your research and to cross-check your informant’s answers. When dealing with archives, this is often fairly simple: you can take a computer with you. But in many fieldwork situations this is not possible. However, noting kinship "by hand" can be extremely fast and efficient, if some basic principles are observed :

 Frequently Asked Questions :





This page contains some references to the Kinsources project website. To know more about Kinsources, click here.


Kinship data can be stored in files of different formats :





A kinship relation can be represented in several different notations. Puck basically uses two of them : the standard and the positional notations.

Standard Notation

The conventional notation of kinship relations uses capital letters for indicating the type of 8 basic kinship relations. These letters are mostly abbreviations of the corresponding English kinship term. They contain information on the gender of Alter and of the direction of the basic kinship relation (ascendance, descent, marriage, as well as siblingship). The following table shows its logic :

These basic kinship relations are composed into more complex ones by the simple juxtaposition of letters according to their position in the kinship chain, starting from ego (as in English, but contrary, for example, to French, where kinship terms have to be composed starting with alter!). The gender of Ego must be indicated by additional signs such as ♂ [male Ego] or ♀ [female Ego] placed before the initial letter. The resulting combination of letters can be read as a direct abbreviation of an English kinship term: MBD (mother’s brother’s daughter, a matrilateral cross-cousin), ZH (sister’s husband, a brother in-law), FWS(father’s wife’s son, a step-brother) are examples of this.
Half-sibling relations are distinguished from full sibling relations by using explicit combination of ascendance and descendance letters instead of sibling letters: for instance, FS (father’s son, paternal half-brother). In addition to genealogical relations, relative age can be indicated by minor letters e (elder) and y (younger) placed before the kinship letter concerned: for instance, FeB (father’s elder brother), MyZ (mother’s younger sister). Standard kinship notation is highly intuitive and easy to read (at least for anglophones). However, it expresses the ethnocentric viewpoint of English kinship terminology and, by using simple abbreviations, tells us little or nothing about the structure of the kinship relation. It is therefore certainly not the best tool for analytical purposes.


Positional Notation

In the positional notation, developed by Laurent Barry (Barry, 2004), a kinship relation is represented by a sequence of letters indicating gender (by abbreviations of the french terms H - homme - for male, and et F - femme - for female) and two diacritical signs :

Relations of ascendance and descent are indicated by simple juxtaposition, where direction changes after every pair of parentheses and every marriage dot. By convention, the starting direction is ascendance.
By replacing gender letters with the variable X, more comprehensive classes of kinship relations can be represented in positional notation. For instance, X(H)X denotes paternal half- siblings, XX(X)F direct aunts, X(F)FH uterine nephews.

Note that the translation of kinship relations from standard notation (without using ♀ and ♂ signs for the gender of ego) into positional notation always implies the variable letter X in the first position.
Positional notation can be used not only to represent abstract kinship relations, but also concrete kinship chains. In this case, gender letters are replaced by identity numbers of the individuals in the respective positions.

The major advantages of positional notation are :

The following table shows some examples of kinship relations translation from positional to standard notation :







Endogenous and exogenous properties are designated by standard codes. In addition to the standardized codes listed above, you are free to enter any other property label you want.

Warning : only use single-word codes - Puck does not allow for empty spaces in property codes.

Note : property codes are fixed and language-independent. They do not change by switching from one language to another.


Main Endogenous Properties

“Endogenous” criteria of classification are calculated by Puck from the genealogical data and are derived automatically from the kinship network itself : sibling group size, number of known ascendants, number of spouses, etc. They need not and should not be explicitly specified, and their codes should not be used to enter properties or to load them from a file.


Main Exogenous Properties

The “Exogenous” classification criteria do not derive from the kinship network itself : dates of birth, death or marriage, profession, residence, religion, etc. Exogenous properties have to be specified explicitly for each individual in the file from which the corpus is loaded or by entering them in the data window. Puck uses the standard gedcom codes for exogenous properties.


 The Classification of Kinship Relations
Among the most basic criteria for classifying kinship relations are the following:

a) According to the arc and edge pattern of lines:

b) According to the gender pattern of vertices :

c) According to symmetry features :


 Kinship Relation Property Codes
Kinship Relation Property Codes are used to cluster kinship relations and matrimonial rings. Overall kinship relation properties are :


 Properties of Consanguine Relations
For kinship relations implying marriages, the code yield the profile of properties of the implied consanguine relations :






BARRY Laurent
2004, "Historique et Spécificités techniques du programme Genos", Ecole « Collecte et traitement des données de terrains », Available online at


BARRY Laurent, & GASPERONI Michaël,
2008, "L’oubli des origines. Amnésie et information généalogiques en histoire et en ethnologie", Annales de démographie historique, 116, 53-104.


CAZES Marie-Hélène, & CAZES Pierre,
1996, "Comment mesurer la profondeur généalogique d’une ascendance?", Population, 51/1, 117-140.


GRANGE Cyril, & HOUSEMAN Michael,
2010, "Objets d’analyse pour l’étude des réseaux de parenté: une application aux familles de la grande bourgeoisie juive parisienne XIXe-XXe siècles", Annales de démographie historique, 116(2), 105-144.


2008, "L’analyse de réseaux de parenté: concepts et outils", Annales de démographie historique, 116, 13-52.


2013, "Virtual Fieldwork. Modeling Observer Bias in Kinship and Alliance Networks", Journal for Artificial Societies and Social Simulation, 17(3), 2. Available online at


HAMBERGER Klaus, HOUSEMAN Michael, DAILLANT Isabelle, WHITE Douglas R., & BARRY Laurent,
2004, "Matrimonial ring structures", Mathématiques et Sciences Humaines. Mathematics and Social Sciences, (168), p.83-120.


2009, "La parenté radiographiée", L’Homme191(3), 107-137.


2014, "Scanning for patterns of relationship: analyzing kinship and marriage networks with Puck 2.0", The History of the Family, publication in progress, see (restricted access).


HAMBERGER Klaus, HOUSEMAN Michael, & WHITE Douglas R.,
2012, "Kinship Network Analysis", In P. Carrington & J. . Scotto (Éd.), The Sage Handbook of Social Network Analysis (p. 533-549). Sage Publications.


WHITE Douglas R., & HOUSEMAN Michael,
1996, "Structures réticulaires de la pratique matrimoniale", L’Homme, 36(139), 59-85.


WHITE Douglas R., & JORION Paul,
1992, "Representing and Analyzing Kinship: A New Approach", Current Anthropology, 33, 454-462.