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A glossary of genealogical terms.
Dakota Territory: A territory created in 1861 that included all of present-day North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, and northern Wyoming.
Danish-Swedish War (1657-1660): A war in which Sweden won much of Denmark's and Norway's territory.
Database: A large collection of information, usually stored in a computer.
Date of immigration: The date an immigrant enters a new country.
Daughters of the American Revolution: An historical organization for women in which membership is based upon having an ancestor who served in the American Revolution, 1775 to 1783.
Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) Genealogical Collection: A collection of transcriptions from Bible records, cemetery records, church records, marriages, deaths, obituaries, wills, and so forth. This collection is an ongoing project of the Daughters of the American Revolution.
Dawes Commission to the Five Civilized Tribes: A commission that the United States federal government organized to exchange the lands of the Five Civilized Tribes for pieces of land allotted to individual members of the tribes. The land was in Indian Territory before it became the state of Oklahoma.
Dawes Rolls: Records of land grants given to individual members of the Five Civilized Tribes. The government of the Five Civilized Tribes was dissolved, and the United States government granted parcels of their land to qualified native individuals.
Death certificate: An official government document that records information about a person's death.
Death notice: A public notification detailing the deceased individual’s place of birth (or origin), parents’ names, and children’s names. Death notices are a valuable source of information about people from South Africa.
Death record: A document containing information about an individual’s death, such as the date, place, cause, and so forth.
Deceased Members File, Latter-day Saint: A file of members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who died between 1941 and the present.
Deceased membership records: Membership records of deceased members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints from 1941 to the present.
Décès: The French word for deaths.
Declaration of Intent (Form 2202): The first legal document an alien files when he or she wishes to become a citizen of the United States. Filing this form signifies that the alien intends to become a citizen and will renounce all allegiance to other governments. The Declaration of Intent is sometimes called a declaration of intention or first papers.
Declaration of intention, USA and Canada: The first legal document an alien files when he or she wishes to become a citizen of the United States or Canada. Filing this form signifies that the alien intends to become a citizen and will renounce all allegiance to other governments. In the United States, the declaration of intention is officially called the Declaration of Intent (Form 2202) and sometimes called first papers.
Deed: A legal document that conveys the title to property; also a contract.
Deed book: A compilation (usually handwritten copies) of deeds, patents, and other land records.
Deeds (see also Land), 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 information about deeds.
Defendant: An individual or institution being charged with a crime or being sued by another individual or institution.
Defunciones: A Spanish word for deaths.
Delayed registration of birth: A birth certificate issued some time (usually a year or longer) after a birth occurred. These certificates were frequently given to people who were born before a government began registering births.
Denization: The process of granting full or partial citizenship to an individual not born in that country. For example, in Great Britain a denizen can buy and own land but cannot inherit land or hold public office.
Dénombrements: A French word for censuses. The term aveux et dénombrements refers to a specific type of land record used in Québec, Canada.
Denomination: A group of people, usually a religious group, who are known by the same name.
Denver Superior Court: A court in Colorado that has jurisdiction over appeals from the Denver County Court. The superior court shares jurisdiction over minor civil matters with the district courts.
Department: A division of a government or other large institution.
Departmental archive, France: An archive that collects records for a department of the French government. Departmental archives have collected most French records of genealogical value, including civil registration records, pre-1792 church records, census records, some notarial records, and military conscription records. The French term for these archives is archives départementales.
Departure list: A list of the people leaving a port.
Departure record: A record created when an individual leaves a country.
Dependent: An individual who cannot or will not provide for his or her own support.
Deposition: The testimony of a witness, given in either oral or written form, that was not given in court but is meant to be used in court.
Derivative citizenship, USA: United States citizenship granted to individuals based on military service or family relationships.
Descendancy chart: A chart that lists an individual’s descendants—children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and so on.
Descendancy chart, Ancestral File™: A computer screen in Ancestral File that shows a person's descendants (children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, etc.).
Descriptive roll: A descriptive list of people who have signed up for a branch of the armed services.
Descriptive surname: A surname based on a unique attribute of a person.
Detroit District Manifest Records of Aliens Arriving from Foreign Contiguous Territory, Canada: A Canadian border crossing list that lists everyone who crossed the Canadian border through Detroit, Michigan, and other Michigan ports from 1906 to 1954.
Detroit Society for Genealogical Research: A genealogical society organized in Detroit, Michigan.
Deutsches Geschlechterbuch, Germany: A German lineage book, which is a major collection of published genealogies of middle-class German families.
Diacritic: A mark over a letter that changes the sound and sometimes the alphabetical order of a word.
Diary: An individual’s daily or frequent account of his or her life. Also called a journal.
Dictionary: A reference tool that lists words and their meanings and often other information about them such as pronunciation and etymology. Some dictionaries cover one language, providing a definition for each word. Other dictionaries cover two languages, providing translations of words between the two languages.
Dictionnaire généalogique des familles canadiennes, Canada: A seven-volume genealogical dictionary by Cyprien Tanguay that gives information about a large number of French-Canadian families in the Province of Québec. It contains marriage, christening, and burial information from the late 1500s to about 1800. The text is in French.
Dictionnaire généalogique des familles du Québec, Canada: A genealogical dictionary by René Jetté that attempts to list the entire population of Québec before 1730. The text is in French.
Dielman-Hayward File, Maryland: A collection of 250,000 obituary and marriage notices and other biographical items printed in Maryland newspapers from the late 1700s to the present. This collection is at the Maryland Historical Society in Baltimore, Maryland.
Digest: A compilation or collection containing the most pertinent information from several records or other sources.
Diocesan court, Church of England: The highest court in a diocese of the Church of England. These courts also had superior jurisdiction over lesser courts in probate matters. Diocesan courts are also called episcopal, commissary, bishop's, exchequer, and consistory courts.
Diocese, England: An ecclesiastical division that often consisted of one or more counties in England plus the many parishes within its jurisdiction.
Dirección General de Administración Civil, Philippines: A government office in the Philippines that maintained vital records. The English translation of the term is Bureau of Civil Administration.
Direct emigration: A type of emigration that occurs when a person leaves his or her country and travels directly to the destination country.
Direct index: An index to land records that is organized by the name of the individual selling land.
Direct line: A person's direct ancestors (parents, grandparents, great-grandparents, and so forth) and descendants (children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, etc.) Any siblings, aunts, uncles, cousins, and so forth are not part of the direct line. Also called a pedigree line.
Director General and Council of New Netherland: The highest court and governing body in New Netherland, which later became the state of New York. This court operated from 1638 to 1664.
Directories, Family History Library Catalog™: A subject heading used in the Family History Library Catalog to categorize directories (alphabetical lists of individuals).
Directories, 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 information about directories.
Directory, general: A list of individuals and information about them, such as name, address, and telephone number. Directories usually focus on a specific group of people, such as all people living in a city or all members of an organization.
Disciples of Christ: A Protestant religion formed in Kentucky in 1809 by Thomas Campbell, Alexander Campbell, and Barton W. Stone. Its full name is the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). The church practices baptism by immersion, but most congregations will accept people as members if they were baptized into another church.
Disk: A storage device used for computer information. The term disk generally refers to a floppy disk, but it can refer to a hard disk or compact disc.
Diskette: A removable storage device used for computer information. Also called a floppy disk or disk.
Distribution: The process of dispensing property during probate.
Distribution and settlement: A probate record that lists the beneficiaries of an estate and the property each receives.
District archive, Scotland: An archive that collects records from a district in Scotland.
District census, District of Columbia: A census taken of the District of Columbia during various years, beginning in 1803.
District county court, South Dakota: A court in South Dakota with countywide jurisdiction over minor civil, criminal, and probate cases.
District court of Oklahoma: A court in Oklahoma with jurisdiction over civil and criminal cases, including probates. Each court used to serve one or more counties, but they now serve only one county. Also called county courts.
District court, Canada: A court established in Ontario, Canada, in 1794 to handle civil cases that did not involve the titles to land. In 1850 the name of these courts changed to county courts, and they gained additional responsibilities. They continue to operate today.
District court, Maine: A court in Maine with districtwide jurisdiction over minor civil and criminal cases. District courts existed from 1839 to 1852, when they were replaced by the supreme judicial court.
District court, Massachusetts: A court in Massachusetts with districtwide jurisdiction. These courts began in 1822.
District court, New Jersey: A court in New Jersey with citywide jurisdiction over minor criminal and civil cases. They were replaced by the superior courts in 1983.
District court, Ohio: A court in Ohio with countywide jurisdiction over civil and criminal cases, including chancery cases and divorce.
District court, Pennsylvania: A court in Pennsylvania with districtwide jurisdiction over civil and criminal cases. District courts existed from 1811 to 1873.
District court, USA: A type of federal court in the United States that has the authority to try cases at a district level. A district may cover an entire state or parts of a state. Until 1866 district courts had jurisdiction over federal civil and equity cases. After 1866 they also had limited criminal jurisdiction.
District court, Virginia: A court in Virginia with districtwide jurisdiction over noncapital criminal cases, major civil cases, and equity cases from 1788 to 1808, when they were replaced by the superior courts of law. Virginia used district courts again from 1854 to 1870, when the state transferred the authority to the circuit courts.
District of Louisiana: A division of Louisiana created when the United States divided the Louisiana Purchase along the 33rd parallel. The District of Louisiana was the land to the north, and the Territory of Orleans included the area to the south.
District of West Augusta, Virginia: An area created by Virginia that included parts of southwestern Pennsylvania and some land that would become part of West Virginia. In 1776 Virginia divided this land into three counties: Ohio, Monongalia, and Yohogania. Pennsylvania disputed Virginia's claim to this land. In 1780 the boundary dispute between Pennsylvania and Virginia was settled, and Pennsylvania gained the disputed land.
District, Canada: A division of a Canadian province. In early Ontario the governments of districts—not counties—kept records. Northern Ontario is still divided into districts.
District, general: A region within a country that is used for voting, record-keeping, and other purposes.
Divorce: A legal end to a marriage.
Divorce proceedings: The legal processes required to obtain a divorce.
Divorce record: Record documenting a legal end to a marriage.
Divorces: The French word for divorces.
Docket: A list of cases heard by a court. Dockets may list the names of the plaintiff and defendant, the date the case was heard, the case file number, and all documents related to the case. Also called court calendars.
Document (noun): A printed record that contains information about an individual or topic.
Document (verb): To keep track of sources used in research.
Döda: The Swedish word for deaths.
Domestic court: A court with jurisdiction over an individual's place of residence.
Dominion Lands Act, Canada: A law passed by the Canadian parliament in 1872 to promote settlement and the construction of the Canadian Pacific Railroad through the Canadian West. Under this act a homesteader paid ten dollars for 160 acres of land. To own the land, homesteaders had three years to build a home and cultivate a certain number of acres on the land.
Dominion of Canada: A confederation created when the British Parliament passed the British North America Act in 1867. The act united Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Québec, and Ontario under a national government that was modeled after the British government. This government handled everything except foreign affairs, which Great Britain still controlled. British Columbia joined the Dominion in 1871, and Prince Edward Island joined in 1873.
Donald Lines Jacobus' Index to Genealogical Periodicals: A subject index to many major genealogical periodicals published from 1870 to 1952.
Donation Act of 1854: A law passed by the United States Congress that granted free land to settlers. Persons claiming Spanish or Mexican land grants were not eligible.
Donation lands: Land donated by the General Land Office to encourage settlement in Florida, New Mexico, Oregon, and Washington.
Donation Tract, Ohio: Land in southeast Ohio that Congress gave to the Ohio Company. The Ohio Company offered 100-acre parcels to legal-age men with rifles who could occupy the land immediately. The purpose of this arrangement was to create a buffer between the Native Americans and people settling on land acquired by the Ohio Company.
Donations entre vifs, Canada: A French term referring to a practice in Québec whereby elderly parents would distribute their property to their children or unrelated persons before they died. These documents also list the conditions to be fulfilled by those receiving property.
Döpta: The Swedish word for baptisms.
Dorfsippenbuch, Germany: The German word for community lineage book. These books contain the ancestry of each family in a parish. These books were compiled by German pastors or genealogists. Also called Ortssippenbuch, or village lineage book.
Double dating: A system of writing dates that shows the year for both the Julian calendar and the Gregorian calendar. In the Julian calendar, the first day of the year was Lady's Day (25 March). In the Gregorian calendar, the first day of the year is 1 January. Countries switched to the Gregorian calendar at various times. For example, the Protestant German states switched in 1699, and England switched in 1752. Double dating developed as a way to show the overlapping dates between 1 January and 24 March. In the date 16 February 1752/53, for example, 1752 is the year under the Julian calendar, and 1753 is the year under the Gregorian calendar.
Double surname, France: A surname that consists of two separate last names. In some areas of France, particularly in the mountainous regions of the Alps and the Pyrénées, individuals may have taken a second (double) surname. The first part of the surname is usually the family surname. The second surname may be a place, house name, or nickname. The second name is referred to as a "dit" because the word dit comes between the two parts of the surname, such as "Cantignon dit Bordedux." Cantignon is the family name. Bordedux is the second surname.
Doukhobors: A religious group founded in the mid-1700s by Russian peasants. Doukhobors is a Russian word for spirit wrestlers. In 1886 the group adopted the name Christian Community of Universal Brotherhood. In 1939 they changed their name again to the Union of Spiritual Communities of Christ. Doukhobors are pacifists who reject external authority, including the Bible and governments, and choose instead to follow direct, individual revelation. During the late 1800s the group adopted many of the moral and spiritual reform ideas expressed in Leo Tolstoy's novels. In 1899 Tolstoy persuaded the Russian government to allow the Doukhobors to emigrate. A group of American Quakers helped pay for the passage of about 7,500 Doukhobors to western Canada, where they established communal farms. They have occasionally clashed with the Canadian government by refusing to obey land, tax, and education laws. Groups of Doukhobors still exist, but their communal lifestyle has mostly died out.
Dove: One of the two ships that brought Catholic and Protestant English settlers to the western shore of Chesapeake Bay in 1634. The other ship was named the Ark. The settlers founded St. Mary's City. King Charles I had originally granted the Maryland region to George Calvert, who died before the king could sign the charter. The king therefore granted the charter to Calvert's son Cecelius. Cecelius, himself a Roman Catholic, believed in religious freedom and saw to it that law and policies were established to guarantee that right in Maryland.
Dower: A portion of or interest in a deceased husband’s lands or tenements that is given to his widow to support her and her children.
Dowry: The money, property, or goods that a woman brings to a marriage. In some cultures the woman controls the dowry. In others, the dowry becomes the husband's property.
Dr. W. G. Reive Collection, Canada: A collection of cemetery transcripts for Ontario, Canada.
Draft board, USA: A governmental board that identifies and selects men for compulsory military service.
Draft registration card: A form filled out by a man who was required to register for a draft.
Duc: The highest ranking title in the French peerage. A duc is equivalent to the British duke.
Duke: The highest title of British and French (duc) peerage, ranking immediately below a prince. In Britain most dukes are in the royal family. The duke's wife is a duchess, his oldest son is a marquess, and his younger children are lords and ladies. In continental Europe, the duke was the sovereign male ruler of a duchy. In Spain, Portugal, and Latin America, a duque (duke) was also the highest of the titled nobility. In Germany, a duke (herzog) was also the highest rank of nobility.
Dunkards: A name referring to members of the Church of the Brethren. They are also called Dunkers.
Dunkers: A name referring to members of the Church of the Brethren. They are also called Dunkards.
Duplicate church records, Germany: A transcript or copy of a church register. Church authorities required local priests to make these copies out of concern that the records might be destroyed in wars or fires. The German word for these copies is Kirchenbuchduplikate.
Duplicate name: A name of an individual submitted for temple work for whom the temple work has already been finished.
Duque: The Spanish and Portuguese term for duke, the highest ranking title in Spanish and Portuguese nobility.
Dutch: Something or someone from the Netherlands; also the language of the Dutch people. Many Dutch people emigrated to New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania.
Dutch Reformed Church, Netherlands: The dominant Protestant religion in the Netherlands, called Hervormde kerk in Dutch. Though it is not a state church, the Dutch royalty have traditionally been members.
Dutch Reformed Church, South Africa: The major religion of Afrikaans-speaking whites in South Africa that traces its roots back to Dutch settlers who came to South Africa in the 1600s. The church's history is closely associated with the history of the nation. Though not the national church, many political leaders have been members. For a time, the church tried to find a theological basis for the government's policy of apartheid. In 1982 the World Alliance of Reformed Churches declared apartheid to be heretical and suspended the denominations that supported it. By 1989 these suspended denominations also condemned it as a sin.
The term Dutch Reformed Church can also refer to other reformed churches in South Africa that accept blacks and people of mixed parentage.
Dutch Reformed Church, United States: A reformed church that was organized in 1628 in Dutch settlements in New Netherland, which is now New York. Doctrines were based on the teachings of John Calvin and the doctrines and practices of the Dutch Reformed Church in the Netherlands. In the United States, the Dutch Reformed Church is now part of the Reformed Church in America.
Dutch West India Company: A merchant company founded by merchants in 1621 and chartered by the Dutch government. The government gave the company the rights to all trade in the Americas and West Africa for the next 24 years. This charter was renewed in 1642 for another 25 years. The company set up the patroonship system in 1629 to speed up settlement and began offering free land to settlers who could pay for their own trip to America. It later began paying the settlers' passages. In 1625 the company helped the colonists build a fort and lay out a town on Manhattan Island, which Peter Minuit bought from the Native Americans. This settlement was called New Amsterdam.
Dwellings, Family History Library Catalog™: A subject heading used in the Family History Library Catalog to categorize records about the places where people live.
Døpte: A Norwegian and Danish word for baptisms.