H genealogical glossary terms

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Hærens Arkiv, Denmark
  • The Danish military archives. This is the division of the Danish national archives that keeps records of the army and navy, including regimental records, levy rolls, sea rolls, and so forth.
Halifax Gazette, Canada
  • The first newspaper published in Canada, beginning in 1752.
Halifax, Canada
  • The capital city of Nova Scotia, Canada. The British founded Halifax in 1749 as a military base, and it became a major British naval base during the American Revolutionary War. Halifax has a large harbor that stays open in the winter when most other Canadian ports must close due to ice.
Hamburg Passenger Lists, Germany
  • An indexed list of the names of people who emigrated through the port of Hamburg, Germany. Nearly a third of the people who emigrated from central and eastern Europe left through Hamburg.
Handlingar, Sweden
  • Swedish army pension records. Also called meritband.
Handwriting, FamilySearch Catalog™
  • A subject heading used in the FamilySearch Catalog to categorize sources containing information about how to read various types of handwriting.
Hannibal Feud (1644-1645)
  • A military action in which Denmark and Norway lost Jämtland and Härjedalen to Sweden.
  • A Swedish word for district.
Hard disk
  • A device used for storing computer information. Also called disk.
Hartford Treaty
  • A treaty between New York and Massachusetts. The treaty, signed in 1786, gave Massachusetts the title to land in western New York, west of the Preemption Line (a line running north and south between Seneca and Keuka Lakes). New York maintained the right to govern the land.
  • A German word for home owner.
Hazel Hansrote Collection
  • A handwritten collection of genealogies and research extracts that is useful for finding information about families from Maryland, Virginia, and Pennsylvania who settled in the West Augusta District in southwestern Pennsylvania and bordering areas of Virginia.
Head tax
  • A tax of a fixed amount required of all persons in a group regardless of their personal assets. The person subject to such taxation is tithable (qualified to be taxed). This tax is also called a poll tax.
Head-of-household index
  • An index to the heads of households listed in a census.
Headright grant, US
  • Public land given to the head of a household or to an individual who paid another person's passage to America. Headright grants were given to early colonists of America and to early citizens of Texas.
Hearth tax, Britain
  • A tax paid on each hearth (fireplace) in a building. In England and Wales this tax was collected twice a year from 1662 to 1689. It was collected until 1690 in Scotland. The tax was not levied against paupers, charitable institutions, and industrial hearths (other than bakers' ovens and blacksmiths' forges). In Ireland, the tax was collected from 1662-1669.
Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society
  • An organization organized to help Jewish immigrants.
  • An individual who is entitled to receive all or a portion of a deceased individual’s estate.
Heir and Devisee Commissions, Canada
  • A commission that was established twice in Ontario, Canada, to resolve land disputes in cases where Ontario land may have been transferred improperly. The first commission operated from 1797 to 1804. The second operated from 1805 to 1911. The records of this commission may be dated earlier or later than the commission's official existence.
  • A German word for marriages. It is found in records of southern Denmark.


  • The German word, translated as marriage supplements, for a file created in connection with a civil marriage application. The file may include information about the couple's births, their parents' deaths, permission documents, and the groom's release from the military.
  • The German word for marriage register, a bound book containing marriage information recorded by civil officials or clergy.
  • The German word for marriage certificate.
Hembygdsföreningar, Sweden
  • Swedish genealogical and historical societies.
Herald, Britain
  • A representative of the British Crown who records grants to use a coat of arms.
Heraldry, FamilySearch Catalog™
  • A subject heading used in the FamilySearch Catalog to categorize records related to the designing, use, regulation, and recording of coats of arms and other related emblems.
Heraldry, general
  • The designing, use, regulation, and recording of coats of arms and other related emblems.
Hereditary society
  • An organization in which membership is based on descent from an individual who served during a particular military conflict; participated in a certain patriotic cause; immigrated from a particular country; was a founder or pioneer of a state; had royal, noble, or baronial lineage; had a particular occupation; or lived during a particular time period. Also called a lineage society.
Heritage Centre, Ireland
  • An organization in Ireland that indexes records of genealogical value. Some centers are open to the public, but their indexes are not available for public inspection. The staff will search the indexes for interested researchers. Also called genealogical centre.
Heritor, Scotland
  • A landowner in a Scottish parish. Until 1845 the heritors of a parish were charged with caring for the poor and maintaining the church, the minister's house, and the school.
Herred, Denmark
  • A Danish civil district, an area covered by a court. The district court is called a herredsting. Also called birke.
Herredsting, Denmark
  • A Danish court with jurisdiction over a herred (district). After 1738 these courts maintained an alphabetical register of debtors and creditors. They also kept a register of the land involved in the cases.
  • A German title of nobility, equivalent to a British duke.
Hessian, Germany
  • A German mercenary who fought for the British during the American Revolutionary War. Hessians may have come from any part of Germany. Some deserted or were sold to Americans as laborers. Many remained in the United States after the war or went to Canada.
Hicksite Quakers, USA
  • A group of the Society of Friends which broke off in 1827 to follow the teachings of Elias Hicks of Long Island, New York. Hicks was an abolitionist and one of the first to preach progressive revelation, which allowed the continuing revision of doctrinal beliefs. Hicks's followers called themselves the Liberal branch of the Society, but other Quakers called them Hicksites. After 70 years of separation, Hicksites began to reconcile with other Quakers.
  • A member of the untitled Spanish nobility. The term hidalgo means son of status. It is the equivalent of the Portuguese fidalgo. Originally, hidalgos were leaders who had been especially valiant during early days of Spain's effort to remove the Moors from Iberia. Many of the early hidalgos came from the northern Spanish provinces of Guipúzcoa and Vizcaya. In later generations, hidalgos had to prove their noble lineage back to their great-grandparents. The status of hidalgo did not necessarily mean the person was rich. Many were shopkeepers or laborers, but they were entitled to social and legal rights granted to the nobility, such as freedom from a commoner's tax and military conscription. Hidalgos could also belong to military orders.
High court of chancery, Virginia
  • A court in Virginia that heard appeals of equity (chancery) cases from the county courts until 1802. The high court of chancery was replaced by the superior courts of chancery, which existed from 1802 until 1831.

High Court of Delegates, England

  • The High Court of Delegates is the name of a court established by law during the reign of Henry VIII. No permanent judges were appointed, but in every case of appeal a special commission usually appointed three judges to hear the case. It heard  final appeals from the Court of Arches until 1832. It was formerly the great court of appeal in all ecclesiastical cases.
High court of errors and appeals, Delaware
  • A court in Delaware that heard appeals from the superior courts. These courts existed from 1794 to 1898.
High Court of Justiciary, Scotland
  • A Scottish court that hears criminal cases.
Highlands of Scotland
  • A rugged, barren area of land that covers two-thirds of northern Scotland. Most people who live in the Highlands reside on the coastal plains.
Highway map
  • A map that shows the established roads in an area.
  • The Spanish term for mortgages.
Historical atlas
  • A collection of maps showing the growth and development of a nation or state. The collection might include information such as boundaries, migration routes, settlement patterns, military campaigns, or American Indian reservations.
Historical background
  • Information about the historical events that occurred during a specific time. This information can give clues about what types of records might contain information about one's ancestors.
Historical Department
  • The department of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints that acquires, organizes, preserves, and oversees the use of records, papers, publications, photographs, artifacts, and other materials of enduring value that evidence the founding and development of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Historical Geography, FamilySearch Catalog™
  • A subject heading used in the FamilySearch Catalog to categorize sources that summarize how place-names and jurisdictions have changed over time.
Historical geography, general
  • The study of how place-names, boundaries, and jurisdictions have changed over time.
Historical information
  • Information about the events that occurred during a specific period of time.
Historical map
  • A map that shows political or other boundaries as they existed at a particular time.
Historical Records Survey
  • A project sponsored by the Works Project Administration (WPA) to create a list of records available in county and church archives.
Historical society
  • An organization in which membership is based on interest in a particular historical event or the history of a particular country or region.
History of Changes List
  • A list available in Ancestral File™ that shows the name and address of each person who changed information about a person or family in Ancestral File.
History, FamilySearch Catalog™
  • A subject heading used in the FamilySearch Catalog to categorize sources of historical information.
History, general
  • An account of the events that occurred during a specific time or in a specific place.
History, PERiodical Source Index
  • A record type used in the Locality and Research Methodologies sections of the PERiodical Source Index (PERSI) to identify articles that contain local and other histories.
Hiwassee District
  • Land ceded by the Cherokee Native Americans to the United States government within the area between the Little Tennessee and Hiwassee Rivers.
Hojas de servicio, Latin America
  • A type of military record used in Latin America, translated in English as service sheets. These are lists of military men, usually officers rather than common men. Service sheets include the name of the military man and his birth date, birthplace, parents' names, ranks held, and assignments. Common men are usually listed in the enlistments (filiacones).
Hojas de servicio, Spain
  • A Spanish term for military records. Also used in the Philippines.
Holding file
  • A type of file used in the Military Index, Social Security Death Index, and compact disc version of the International Genealogical Index®. The holding file is a temporary file in which users save the records they want to copy onto a floppy disk. When the user is finished using the file, he or she simply copies the holding file onto the disk.
Holland Land Company
  • A land speculation company headquartered in Holland that purchased large tracts of land in western New York. The company divided the tracts into small lots and sold the lots to settlers.
Holland Land Purchase
  • A tract of land containing present-day Niagara, Erie, Chautauqua, and Cattaraugus Counties and the western parts of Allegany, Wyoming, Genesee, and Orleans Counties. This land was originally part of the land given to Massachusetts as part of the Hartford Treaty of 1786. Massachusetts eventually sold this land to the Holland Land Company.
Holland Society of New York Church Record Collection
  • A collection of church records from the German Reformed, French Reformed, Lutheran, and Episcopal Churches in New York.
Holocaust, World War II
  • A term referring to the persecution and destruction of Jewish people in Europe during World War II.
Holy Office of the Inquisition (1570-1834)
  • A religious institution established by Pope Sixtus IV at the request of King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Spain. The Inquisition was used to enforce political and religious unity through the punishment of heresy. Witchcraft, sorcery, and alchemy were also punished. Those who did not conform to the Catholic Church, such as Protestants and Jews, suffered greatly at this time. The Inquisition was notorious for publicly punishing subjects who refused to confess or who confessed after first denying guilt. Interrogation and torture were commonly used to force confessions from suspects. The Inquisition spread into Spain's colonies in the late 1500s and early 1600s. After several attempts to suppress the Inquisition in the early 1800s, it was finally ended in 1834.
Home Guard
  • Local militia units organized during the Civil War that usually served only within a particular state but sometimes had to serve federal duty.
  • Government-owned land given to an individual who lived on the land and improved it for a specific period of time. In the United States this period of time was five years. In Canada it was three years. Also called homestead grant or homestead land.
Homestead Act of 1862
  • A law passed by the United States Congress that gave free land to settlers who lived on and improved the land for five years or who purchased it within six months of filing a claim for it.
Homestead application files, Canada
  • The collection of applications filled out by Canadians who wanted a homestead.
Homestead case file
  • The collection of records relating to a person's homestead. Also called homestead entry file.
Homestead entry file
  • The collection of records relating to a person's homestead. Also called homestead case file.
Homestead grant
  • Federal land given to an individual who lived on the land and improved it for a specific period of time. In the United States it was five years. In Canada it was three years. Also called homestead or homestead land.
Homestead land
  • Federal land given to an individual who lived on the land and improved it for a specific period of time. In the United States it was five years. In Canada it was three years. Also called homestead or homestead grant.
Homestead record file, Canada
  • A file of records that the Canadian government kept about everyone who applied for a homestead. These records include the description of the land filed for, the date of filing, and correspondence about the property. There may also be copies of naturalization records or other kinds of immigration information. Names of other family members are sometimes included.
  • An individual attempting to acquire the ownership of a piece of federal land by living on it and making improvements to it for a specific period of time. In the United States it was five years. In Canada it was three years.
Hospital applications
  • Records about patients admitted to a hospital.
Hotel register
  • A list of the people staying in a hotel.
House book, Germany
  • A book that lists the owners of houses in a city, the owner's occupation, years of residence, and sometimes occupants or other residents. Biographical sketches and genealogies are also sometimes included. The German word for house book is Hausbuch.
House of Assembly, Canada
  • A governing body in Ontario that met from 1792 to 1840. It was replaced by the Legislative Assembly.
Householders Index
  • A shortened name for the Index of Surnames of Householders in Griffith’s Primary Valuation and the Tithe Applotment Books. This source is a surname index to people who paid taxes to the Church of Ireland or the government of Ireland between 1820 and 1864. It can help identify where an individual was living in Ireland. Also called the Ireland Householders Index.
Householders Index, Ireland
  • A shortened name for the Index of Surnames of Householders in Griffith's Primary Valuation and the Tithe Applotment Books. Also called Ireland Householders List.
Hudson's Bay Company, Canada
  • A fur trading company chartered by the English government in 1670 to compete with French fur traders in North America. Competition from French fur traders and the North West Company forced the Hudson's Bay Company to explore farther inland, establishing trading posts and transportation routes. In 1821 the Hudson's Bay Company bought the North West Company. Until 1870 this company controlled almost four-fifths of Canada. The company still operates today and is the world's largest fur trading company. It also owns a chain of department stores and runs a wholesale operation.
  • A member of the Reformed Church in France during the 1500s and 1600s. Many Huguenots emigrated to England, the Netherlands, Prussia, and the United States to avoid persecution. Also called French Huguenots.                

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Husförhörslängder, Sweden
  • A Swedish word for clerical survey records. These were rolls kept in Sweden that list all members of a parish, their places of residence, and their knowledge of catechism. The Evangelical Lutheran Church passed a law in 1686 requiring ministers to keep these records. Some records exist for as early as 1700, but most start much later. From about 1820, surveys are available for most parishes.
Hustings court, Virginia
  • A court in Virginia with citywide jurisdiction that heard minor civil and criminal cases and equity, probate, and orphan matters. Independent cities, such as Richmond, had hustings courts. In 1850, the hustings courts were replaced by the corporation courts.