* Glossary of Terms Used in Moving Here



45 Aid Society of Holocaust Survivors

Charitable organisation formed of those who came to the UK in 1945 as children and teenagers. It plays a prominent part in Holocaust education, and members of the Society frequently present their testimonies to schoolchildren and to students at universities.

Absentee Owners

A plantation or estate owner who did not live on and manage the property directly.


People who use statistics and other mathematical tools to calculate insurance risks and premiums.


At a traditional Jewish Passover meal, the afikoman (a piece of unleavened bread) is hidden for the children at the feast to find.

Age of majority

The age at which, by law, a person is regarded as having become an adult.


A Muslim sect, accused by orthodox Muslims of being unorthodox for regarding their founder as a prophet on par with Mohammed.


A military officer acting as a confidential assistant to a senior officer.


A foreigner, especially one who has not been made a citizen of the country where they are living.

Alien Pioneer Companies

These units were formed to accommodate the 10,000 refugees from occupied Europe who volunteered for the British Army in the Second World War. Initially the men were only allowed to serve within the UK and were limited to tasks such as forestry, construction, guarding prisoners of war and rescue work in the bombed cities. Later in the war the Alien Pioneers saw action in several campaigns abroad.


Of or relating to Britain and its allies in the First and Second World Wars and after. An ally in this sense is state formally cooperating with another for a military or other purpose.


Native American Indians.


Belief in the abolition of all government and the organisation of society on a voluntary co-operative basis.


In the context of immigration, to overlay the newcomer's culture and customs with the prevailing British culture and customs. To make English in some form or character.

Anglo Irish

Relating to both Britain and Ireland. Someone of mixed English and Irish parentage, or of English descent but born or resident in Ireland.

Anglo Norman

Relating to both England and the Norman French at the time of the Norman Conquest in 1066.


The union of Austria with Germany under Hitler in 1938.


A person hostile of prejudice against Jews.


Hostility to or prejudice against Jews.


An old term for a chemist.


An ancient Middle Eastern language closely related to Hebrew.


Places where historical documents and records are kept

Archive Offices

An archive (sometimes called a record office) is where original documents of a historic nature are stored and made available to researchers. An archive is also the actual collection of historical documents as well as the place they are kept.


A sect of Hinduism.


Originally a term used to refer to the inhabitants of Iran. It was later used to describe Indo-Europeans, the ancient ancestors of many Europeans and people from the sub-continent of India. In Nazi ideology it was subverted to refer to people of supposedly 'pure' Northern European descent, as distinct from supposedly 'degenerate' people like the Jews. Romanies originated in India and were generally regarded as Indo-European. Nazi attempts to bully academics into viewing them as "non-Aryan" met with limited success.


A Jew (Jews) of central or eastern European descent. Ashkenaz is a Hebrew word for Germany.




A nanny employed by Europeans in India.

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A man who has never been married.

Balfour Declaration

A letter written on 2 November 1917 by Arthur James Balfour, British Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs on behalf of the British Government in 1917, who at the time controlled Palestine. It recognized the right of Jews to a 'homeland' in Palestine where they could co-exist with the Arabs.

Ballot Box

A sealed box into which voters put completed ballot papers (votes).

Baptisimal Certificate

Document recording baptism. Baptism is a Christian ceremony to mark membership of the church. This usually takes place when a person is a baby or young child although adult baptism is common in some churches. During the ceremony water is sprinkled on the forehead of the person being baptised (in some churches the person is immersed in water) to symbolise purification.


A sect within Islam which follows the teaching of Ahmed Raza Barelvi (1854-1921).


Indian sweet made from milk, butter, sugar and nuts.


The ceremony that marks the religious coming of age of a Jewish boy at the age of 13. The word comes from the Hebrew-Aramaic for 'son of the commandment' but more accurately 'man of duty'. From the age of 13 a Jewish boy is thought to have reached religious maturity and is given adult privileges in the synagogue.


An area within a country.

Base Born

A child born to parents who are not married to each other.


A child born to parents who are not married to each other.

Battle of Cable Street

The clash between British Fascists, led by Sir Oswald Mosely, and the local residents in the East End of London on Sunday 4 October 1936. Barricades were built in Cable Street and fighting broke out between residents and the police who were trying to clear a way through. The anti-Semitic Fascists were prevented from entering what was then a mainly Jewish area.

Beatrice Webb

An early 20th century social reformer and writer.


A native or inhabitant of either the Indian state of West Bengal in Eastern India or neighbouring Bangladesh. Also the Indo-European language of the people of Bengal.

Beth Din

Jewish religious court which rules on domestic and communal matters, e.g. relating to dietary laws, circumcisions, marriages and burials.

Bishop's Transcripts

A duplicate copy of a parish register, which was sent to the bishop of the diocese for safekeeping. Unfortunately, they are not as complete as the original register, but can be useful if the original has been lost.

Black British

During the 1980s this term was used to stress the political unity between ethnic minorities in Britain, particularly African, Caribbean, South Asian and Chinese. In the Migration Histories gallery, Black British refers to British descendants of first generation Caribbean migrants. Where necessary Black British refers broadly to all people of African or Caribbean descent living in Britain, for instance, 'the relationship between Black British people and the police'.


Members of Oswald Mosley's British Union of Fascists that flourished in Britain in the 1930s.


A plant disease, especially one caused by fungi such as mildew and rust.

Boer War

War fought in South Africa, 1899-1902, between the descendants of Dutch settlers ('Boers'), and the British Empire. Despite initial successes the Boers were eventually overwhelmed and their independent republics were absorbed into the Empire.

Boot Laster

A person who makes a shoemaker's model for shaping or repairing a boot.


A Muslim community originating in Gujarat in western India.


The founder of a philosophical and ethical movement which started in the 6th century BCE in the area near Benares in India and spread from there.


Castrated bull raised for beef.

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Campaign Medals

A medal given to all members of the armed forces who served in a particular campaign, such as the Burma Star which was given to men who served in Burma during the Second World War.


(In Hebrew hazzan) The person who chants the liturgy during Jewish services in the synagogue.

Caribbean Voices

A BBC weekly radio programme started in 1946 which focused on the literary output of the region.

Cash crops

Crops produced for its commercial value rather than for use by the grower.


Each of the hereditary classes of Hindu society, distinguished by relative degrees of ritual purity and of social status.

Catholic Parishes

The smallest unit of Catholic church administration.


Workers employed, often on very low wages, on a day-to-day or even hourly basis with no job security. The system can be open to abuse by employers and particularly in the past generated much resentment.


An official count or survey of a population.


A light head-wrapping or scarf worn by South Asian women.


Special bread for the Jewish Sabbath table, generally using dough sweetened with egg and plaited in shape. It is traditional to have two loaves as a reminder of the double portion of mannah that the Israelites received on Fridays in the desert.

Chanuka (or Hanukah)

Jewish 'Festival of Lights' which commemorates the rededication of the Temple in Jerusalem in 164 BC at the time of the Assyrian-Greek Empire. It falls in December.


A populist reform movement of the 1830s-40s that aimed to increase the rights of the working classes. Its principles were set out in a manifesto called The People's Charter.


A person who believes in Chartism.


A woman employed as a cleaner in a house or office.

Cheder (pl Chederim)

Elementary school for Jewish children in which Hebrew and religious knowledge are taught.


See Cheder.


A Jewish society or voluntary organisation. The term came to mean the small synagogues that developed from the friendly societies of working-class Jews and Eastern European immigrants to London. (See also Stiebel and Shul).


Plural of Chevra.


A canopy. Used in the Jewish marriage service.


An infectious bacterial disease, often picked up from infected water. It causes severe vomiting and diarrhoea, and if not treated with modern medicines has a high death rate.

Civil Parish

Smallest unit of local government administration in a rural area.

Civil Records

Records which relate to ordinary people, not church or army records for example.


A priest or minister in the Christian church.


Relating to or characteristic of a colony or colonies. A colony is a country or area under the political control of another country and occupied by settlers of that country. On Moving Here 'The colonies' are all the foreign places formally under British political control.


Formal appointment as an officer in the armed forces.

Communist Party

The name adopted by political parties in Britain and around the world that follow the teachings of Karl Marx. They advocate the control of the 'means of production' (factories etc) by workers, as opposed to capitalists (the people who invest money in them), who are regarded as exploiting the workers for profit. In practice this usually means that all aspects of the economy are planned and controlled by the state, rather than driven by the market - although Marx argued that, over time, the state would 'wither away'.


Compulsory enrolment in the armed services.

Consistorial Court

A church court.


A rural Irish labourer living in a cottage. Labourers who paid their rents by working a fixed number of days for their landlord.


People to whom money is owed.


In the 18th and early 19th century referred to the practice of entrapping men into the Army or Navy by getting them into debt; in the late 19th and early 20th century to taking advantage of vulnerable newcomers arriving at the ports.


People who practise crimping.

County Record Office (CRO)

The County Record Office in England contains local records. Typical holdings would include documents relating to the County Council, Local Councils, legal history and individual parishes.

Crossing Sweeper

People who made a living by sweeping London's pedestrian crossings of horse muck and litter in the days before motorized transport. The best known literary example is 'Jo the crossing sweeper' in Charles Dickens' Bleak House.

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Deed Poll

The legal document that confirms the change of an individual's name.


Legal documents relating to the ownership of land.


A denizen was half-way to full British citizenship. He (rarely she) paid for letters Patent to become an English subject, protected by the Crown and English law but still subject to alien rates of tax, unable to vote, hold civil or hold military office or inherit land.


A church or religious group.


A conservative movement within Islam.


A severe and prolonged economic slump, with high unemployment. Refers particularly to the slump that affected much of the developed world in the early 1930s.


The spreading out of immigrants and refugees from their homeland. Also refers to the expatriate population as a distinct group. The Jewish diaspora began when the Babylonians captured Jerusalem in the 6th century BCE, and gathered pace after the Romans destroyed the city in 70CE.


From the late 18th century to the 1950s most towns had one or more court, trade or street directories which listed prominent citizens, local traders and householders with their occupations often listed street by street. They are useful as they give some idea of when somebody set up in trade (by his first appearance in a directory) or when an ancestor moved to a new address.


An large administrative area within the Roman Catholic or Anglican Church in the care of a bishop.

Discharged to Pension

Soldiers discharged from military service with a pension.


The term used for Nonconformists mainly before the 19th century. Religious group who disagree, or dissent, with the teaching and activities of a church.


A Hindu festival with lights, held in October and November to celebrate the end of the monsoon.


Teaching (usually physical activity) by means of repeated exercises.


Bacterial infection of the intestine resulting in severe diarrhoea.

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Refers to efforts to break down traditional divisions within the Christian religion, eg between Anglicans, Roman Catholics and Nonconformists.


The Muslim festival marking the end of the fast of Ramadan (the ninth month of the Muslim year when strict fasting is observed from sunrise to sunset).


A fabled city of gold in South America, the conquistadors and Sir Walter Raleigh searched for it fruitlessly.


In the context of slavery, refers to setting slaves free. In the context of British political history, refers to the lifting of restrictions on non-Anglicans from being able to sit in Parliament and enjoying other civic rights.


A person who has emigrated, especially for political reasons.

Enemy Aliens

Expression used in wartime to refer to people living in a country who are citizens of one of its enemies, e.g. German nationals living in Britain during the First or Second World Wars. Because of the risk that they will pass information to the enemy, their movements and rights are often restricted by law for the duration of the war. In the Second World War, complications arose with Jewish and other refugees from the Nazi regime in Germany: could they be trusted to be loyal to the British allied cause, or was there a risk that some of them were 'plants' who would betray secrets back to the Germans?


The grant of the right to vote.


A port of other place which acts as a centre for import and export.


Official who collects the information for a population census.

Epaulette Maker

Garment worker who specializes in making shoulder pieces for military uniforms.

Established Church

The church recognized by the state as the national religion.


Large area of land some of which is used for agriculture, usually with a big house sometimes known as a stately home, owned by one person or family.

Ethnic Group

A group of people who share the same cultural tradition.


Official exclusion from participation in religious activities and services.


The people appointed by someone making a will whose responsibility is to carry out the requests in the will.

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Family Records Centre (FRC)

Britain's most important genealogical resource, the centre is jointly managed by The National Archives and the Office for National Statistics. On the ground floor are the registers to births, marriages and deaths since 1837. On the first floor are census records (1841-1891 only), Prerogative Court of Canterbury wills, and non-conformist parish registers. The Centre also has computer links to the General Register Office for Scotland in Edinburgh and the 1901 census. Address: 1 Myddelton St, London EC1R 1UW (Tel: 020 8392 5300), www.familyrecords.gov.uk/frcexternal link.

Family Search

Contains details of 600 million names of people from around the world before about 1900. This can be searched online at www.familysearch.orgexternal link or on CD (compact discs) at family history centres, as well as at the Family Records Centre and the Society of Genealogists. The database is particularly strong in American and British families. There are two major pitfalls: it rarely contains details of deaths or burials, and there are many errors, so you must always cross-check the information with the original source. Even so it is an incredibly useful research tool. (See also International Genealogical Index).


Authoritarian political movements that place greater value on state control than on individual liberty, and glorify war. Typically, Fascist movements wish to rid their countries of 'alien' elements, in an attempt to return to a mythical golden age of national purity and heroism. Mussolini's regime in Italy in the 1920s-40s were the original Fascists. Franco's regime in Spain in the 1930s-70s had very similar thinking and methods.

Federation of Family History Societies (FFHS)

Represents the interests of family history societies in England and Wales. It also publishes many very good books. Their web site is www.ffhs.org.ukexternal link and it contains links to all member societies as well as to the online bookshop.


Originally a parliamentary assembly in Ireland which later developed into a cultural and musical festival.


A member of the Irish Republican Brotherhood, a 19th century revolutionary nationalist organization among the Irish in the US and Ireland. It is also an informal name used chiefly by Protestants in Northern Ireland for a Catholic.


A belief in the aims of the IRB (see Fenian).


Workers who carry out the final stages in a manufacturing process.


Association Football or 'Soccer', popular team sport involving two teams of eleven players and a round ball. The aim is to score by kicking the ball into the opposition's goal and to prevent them doing the same to you.

Friendly Societies

Associations owned by their members and providing sickness benefits, life assurance and pensions. Precursors to modern Trade Unions, workers paid in a little money when they could to establish a fund that would help members of the society who fell on hard times or needed money for medical emergencies.


A person travelling by foot.

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A sub-group of the Celtic language family. Scots Gaelic is now spoken mainly only in the Western Isles. Along with Irish Gaelic (until recent years mainly restricted to rural areas in western Ireland), it is now enjoying a revival.


The Irish people.

Gallantry Medals

A medal awarded for an act of gallantry. The most famous gallantry medal is the Victoria Cross. See www.iwm.org.uk/collections/exhibits/ex-vcexternal link.


The elephant-headed Hindu God.

Genealogical Research

Finding out about your ancestors.


Your ancestors.


A person who is not Jewish.


Prosperous people of good social standing who were not aristocrats or nobility.


The attempt to eliminate by murder an entire ethnic group or nation.

Genealogical Software Package

A computer program that stores information about people on your family tree and which can present this information in a variety of formats. Here's a useful introduction at www.familyrecords.gov.uk/guides/softwareexternal link. There are many packages available: the best selling program is Generations. See www.sierrahome.co.ukexternal link, but this is largely designed for American genealogists. An alternative is Family Historian at www.family-historian.co.ukexternal link, which is a new British package that has received very favourable reviews.

General Register Office (GRO)

The government department which has been responsible for administering the registration of births, marriages and deaths since July 1837. Now part of the Office for National Statistics (ONS). Postal address: General Register Office, PO Box 2, Southport PR8 2JD (Tel: 0870 243 7788), www.statistics.gov.uk/registrationexternal link.


The German secret police under Nazi rule.


An early 20th-century movement by Indians living abroad, most of whom were Sikhs, which had the aim of bring freedom to India.


A part of a city occupied by a minority group. This is mostly used to refer to the Jewish quarter of a city. It originates in Venice in the 16th century where it denoted a walled area to which Jews were confined outside daylight hours. During World War II it was used again for areas in cities of Eastern Europe into which Jews were forced to live by the Nazis, whilst awaiting deportation to extermination camps.


A province or administrative region in the Pale of Settlement.
or a term relating to government or a governor.


A medieval organisation of craftsmen. Each guild laid down rules for training and carrying out the craft.


Also Gujarati. A native or inhabitant of the Indian state of Gujerat in north-West India. Also the Indo-European language of the people from Gujerat.


A Sikh place of worship.

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Jewish youth movement encouraging the Hebrew language, culture and settlement in Israel.

Hachnasath Orechim

Jewish term for hospitality to travellers and strangers, used to denote shelter and aid given to new immigrants.


A printed or written copy of a document.

Hare Krishna

A member of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness, a religious sect based on the worship of the Hindu god Krishna.

Haredim (plural) Haredi (singular)

Collective term referring to ultra-Orthodox Jews, a Hebrew word meaning God-fearing "those who tremble"(before God).


People who sell goods from door to door, often travelling widely around the country. Before shops became commonplace in the 19th century, hawking was a common form of retail trade, especially outside the big towns.


The practice of selling goods by touting them from door to door.


Refers both to the ancient Jewish people, often called the Hebrews in the Bible, and to their language.


German and Yiddish word for home, or place of origin, of immigrant community.

Hereditary Surnames

Names of families passed on from parents to children.


Followers of Hinduism - a major religious and cultural tradition of the Indian Sub-Continent, including belief in reincarnation and the worship of a large amount of gods.


An Indo-European language of northern India derived from Sanskrit, an official language of India.


An area of land rented from a landlord.


From the Greek word meaning 'burnt offering' it refers to the Nazi German extermination of Jewish (and other) people in central Europe during World War II.

Home Rule

Refers to the ability of one nation within a union (eg Ireland within the United Kingdom, as it was when the Home Rule movement was at its height in the 19th century) to manage their own internal affairs - taxation, law and order, education and so on. It stops short of outright independence, in which sovereign nations also determine their own defence and foreign policies.


Historically, this usually referred to the senior male in a family, but occasionally to the eldest male breadwinner (rather than the oldest man in the household) or the eldest woman (in households with no adult males).


An Irish ball game like hockey, played with a shorter stick with a broader oval blade

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Contracted to work for a set period for a colonial landowner in exchange for passage to the colony.


See Indentured.


The right to independent government achieved by India in 1947, and the creation of the new nation of Pakistan.

Indigenous Populations

Original inhabitants.


A dark violet-blue dye obtained from a tropical plant, also called indigo. Used over centuries as a dyestuff to freshen up old clothing, it was commonly used in the 19th century for workers' clothing, and was the natural choice for the first blue jeans.

Industrial Revolution

Refers to the transformation of manufacturing from small, craft-based units (often in the home) to large factories or 'mills', powered by technological inventions like the steam engine and automated machinery, and causing mass migrations from the countryside into the cities. In England, the Industrial Revolution started in the second half of the 18th century and was well advanced by the middle of the 19th. Elsewhere it started later - and in some countries is still under way.

International Genealogical Index (IGI)

A microfiche version of FamilySearch. The latest edition produced was in 1992. It is still widely available however. See also Family Search.


Mediaeval church courts which were set up to root out religious beliefs at odds with the Roman Catholic teachings of the day, whether in the form of Protestantism, Judaism or Islam. Most vigorous in Spain, the Inquisition spread to Portugal, France and elsewhere, and was infamous for the use of torture.

International Brigades

Refers to the volunteer fighting forces that were organized to oppose the Fascist armies of General Franco in the Spanish Civil War in the 1930s.


Abbreviation for the Irish Republican Army. The 'Official' IRA targeted the British Army and the RIC in the Troubles after the First World War that lead to the establishment of the Irish Free State in 1922. The 'Provisional' IRA sprang up in Northern Ireland when the older organization proved incapable of protecting working class Catholic enclaves against attack from Protestant mobs. The 'Provos', as they came to be known, continued to attack civilian and security targets in Ulster and the British mainland up until the ceasefires of the 1990s restored a fragile peace.


One of the world's three main monotheistic religions (ie religions based in a belief in one God), developed in Arabia in the seventh century AD under the inspiration of the prophet Mohammed. Its key sacred text is the Koran, but it shares a reverence for Abraham and the prophets of the Judaeo-Christian Bible. The word 'Islam' means submission (to God).

Ismaeli Shi'as

Members of a Muslim sect.

Isolation Hospitals

Hospitals in which people with severely infectious diseases can be kept separate from the rest of the population to minimize the spread of infection.

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Followers of Jainism, which is a religion founded in India in the 6th century BC.

Jewish Museum, London (JML)

The Jewish Museum, London is one of the Moving Here partners. More information about them is available from the Partners section of this site.

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The body of Jewish law dealing with what foods can be eaten and how those foods must be prepared. The word 'kosher' (adjective) refers to items that conform with these laws, such as foods which are proper to eat or to ritual objects, such as Torah scrolls, that are in a correct state to use. 'Kasher' (verb): to render fit for use.


From the Persian word khwaja (lord, master). The Khojas are one of the Ismaili communities originating from the Indian subcontinent and now living in many countries of the world.


Knee-length skirt of pleated tartan cloth traditionally worn by men in the Scottish Highlands.


The evacuation of Jewish children from Nazi Germany. Refers specifically to 10,000 unaccompanied children admitted to Britain prior to World War 2. They were separated from, or sent by parents who had to stay behind.


Hebrew word for a skull-cap, or head covering traditionally worn by Jewish males, especially when praying. Also known as a yarmulka.


Traditional Irish walking sticks made from blackthorn, was also the nickname given to Irish workers who were drafted in as non Union labour in an attempt to break 19th century strikes, most famously during the Preston Lockout of 1853.


Meeting the requirements of Jewish law with regards to the preparation of food (or ritual objects such as Torah scrolls.) See Kashrut.

Kosher butchering

The ritual process for slaughtering animals for food according to Jewish law.


Refers to the night in 1938 when Nazi mobs ran riot in what was a co-ordinated act of terror against the resident Jewish populations of many Jewish cities in Germany. The word, which means literally 'crystal night', refers to the smashing of windows.

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In the Christian church, the ordinary people, who are not priests or ministers.

Landless Labourers

An agriculture worker who does not own or rent any land, and who earns a living by working on someone else's land.


People from the same town or village - an expression used by Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe. New immigrants would seek out landsleit in order to be near people who shared their background in the 'old country'.


A sailor from India or South East Asia.

LDS Church

Church of Latterday Saints, otherwise known as the Mormons. Because the Church teaches that members and their ancestors have the right to eternal life, Mormons are expected to trace their ancestors and have them retrospectively baptised into the faith. - In practice, this involves tracing as many past peoples as possible. To this end the Church has devoted considerable resources to making available genealogical resources from across the world, most notably through programmes of microfilming records, which are then stored in Salt Lake City and made available through the Family History Library. They also run a worldwide network of family history centres that are open to everyone. To find the nearest one see www.familysearch.orgexternal link.


Legal contract between landlord and tenant for rent out, or leasing, land or property.


Person who has a lease to rent land or property from a landlord.

Letters of Administration

An administration is a legal arrangement that enables the estate of someone who died intestate (without making a will) to be wound up. Under such circumstances, it is usual for an adult next of kin (frequently the spouse) to apply to the Probate Court for letters of administration, usually abbreviated to Admons.

Little Ireland

Slang term applied to any area of a town that became home to a significant Irish population.


A Jew from Lithuania. The Yiddish word comes from the Polish word Litwak, meaning Lithuanian.

Log Books

Written records usually kept on a daily basis.


Members of the Hindu caste Lohana. www.lcuk.org.ukexternal link is a website about the Lohana community in the UK.


An Eastern European Jewish form of noodles. Lokshen kugel is a popular dish, a baked pudding of noodles with raisins.

London Metropolitan Archives (LMA)

The London Metropolitan Archives is one of the Moving Here partners. More information about them is available from the Partners section of this site.

Local Record Offices

Every English and most Welsh counties have a record office, as does some historic cities, such as Hull, Coventry and London. They look after material created both by local government, such as rate books, quarter session records or council minutes and unofficial material donated by individuals, companies or clubs, which may include such things as deeds, account books, and photographs. They all have web sites, which will tell you the opening hours, how to get to the archive and provide basic information leaflets. Catalogues to many of their records can be searched at www.a2a.org.ukexternal link.


The German Airforce, the name literally means 'air weapon'.

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Maccabi Union

The umbrella body for an international network of Jewish youth clubs. Also refers to many of the national constituent bodies or the youth clubs themselves. Named after the Maccabi revolt against the Romans in the first century BC, it seeks to rekindle the strong spirit and physical fitness that won the Jews their legendary victory.


People who preside over certain types of courts.


Wife or widow of an Indian prince.

Maiden Names, Surnames

The family names or surnames used by women before they first marry.


Arabic word for an assembly or parliament, common in use throughout the Islamic world.


Hindu word meaning temple.


The document or process by which an enslaved person is given freedom.

Methodist, Methodism

Methodism was religious movement started in 1739 by a Church of England clergyman, John Wesley, which later broke away from the church and became a denomination in its own right.


A large and busy city or the capital city of a country.


A bath constructed in accordance with Jewish requirements on ritual purity of the body.


A military unit made up of men from a local area.

Minute Book

Detailed written records usually of committee meetings.


Person trained in the surgical techniques and religious laws of Jewish circumcision.

Monitor System

The teaching system introduced in the early 19th century to address the acute shortage of people with enough education to become teachers. A trained teacher would teach a lesson to a group of able, older pupils ('monitors'), whose task was then to take the rest of the pupils into groups and pass the lesson on to them. Over a couple of generations, it increased dramatically the number of people able to become teachers.

Monumental Inscriptions

Inscriptions commemorating the dead on gravestones, plaques and monuments inside churches etc, or on dedicated monuments, e.g. tombs and obelisks, often giving brief details of the deceased.


A place of worship for people of the Islamic faith.

Munitions Factories

Factories producing military equipment and ammunition.


Follower of Islam, one of the world's three main monotheistic religions.


A person of mixed Black and white parentage.

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National Library

A library designed to serve the whole nation, reflecting its literary heritage, history and the accumulated knowledge of its scholars. The National Library will often house original manuscripts as well as a huge collection of published works.


The official process that someone of foreign birth goes through to become a citizen of another country.


Made a citizen of a country. See Naturalisation.


A labourer working in the digging and building of a road, railway or canal.


A member of the National Socialist German Workers' Party. The word has become used to describe a person with very strong racist opinions.


The beliefs associated with the National Socialist German Workers' Party and other movements similarly based on a racist agenda and intolerance of socialist or liberal opposition. German Nazism in the 1930s and '40s held that northern Europeans ('Aryans') were a superior race who had to save civilization from what they considered 'lesser' peoples like the Slavs, the gypsies, and above all the Jews. In the end this led to the Holocaust, the mass murder of millions of these peoples.

New Commonwealth

The 'Old Commonwealth' was made up of what were known as 'The White Dominions' Canada, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. These countries had a large degree of independence from Britain from the start of the 20th century and attended Imperial summits as nations in their own right. The 'New Commonwealth' was made up of those former colonies that were granted independence in the years after the Second World War, only joining the British Commonwealth of nations after they had stopped being run directly from London.

New World

North and South America, in contrast to the 'Old World' of Europe, Asia and Africa

Next of Kin

A person's closest living relative.


Noblemen or women, the aristocracy, usually people who have inherited a title such as Duke, Earl or Lord.

Non-Commissioned Officers

A term used to denote corporals, sergeants and sergeant majors in the army. The naval equivalent is warrant officer.


An English term for Protestant Christians other than the Anglicans or Roman Catholics. They include Baptists, Congregationalists, Methodists, Presbyterians, Quakers, Unitarians and members of the United Reformed Church.

Non-denominational Unions

Unions open and acceptable to people of any Christian group.

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People in the armed services who hold commanding rank, as opposed to those in the basic rank (which in the Army is that of private). The most common ranks held by officers are (in order of seniority) Second Lieutenant, Lieutenant, Captain, Major, Lieutenant Colonel, and Colonel. In the British Army, a distinction is made between commissioned and non-commissioned officers, the former holding the higher ranks (from Second Lieutenant through to General). See also Non-Commissioned Officers.

Old Bailey

Colloquial expression for the Central Criminal Court in London, named after the street in which it is located.

Other Ranks

Men serving in the army other than not officers, generally applied to the ordinary soldier.


Relating to Orangemen or their Order (The Orange Order is a Protestant political society in Ireland, especially in Northern Ireland). The order is dedicated to preserving the memory of William of Orange who defeated the Catholic King James II at the River Boyne in 1690. The annual parades to commemorate this victory generate pride and pageantry among many Protestants, but have on occasion caused tensions with the Catholic community.


Theory or practice conforming to traditional or generally accepted beliefs.

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The belief that arguments/conflicts should be settled peacefully and that war and violence are not justified.

Pale of Settlement

The area of western Russia/Russian Poland between the Baltic and the Black Sea in which Russian Jews in the 19th century were forced to live. Also refers to the area around Dublin in Ireland which was under English rule in past centuries. The word 'pale' refers to the fences - made of wooden stakes or 'pales' - that marked the boundary.


The smallest unit of church, or of local government administration in rural areas.

Parlour Maid

Domestic servant - she would perform chores around the house, dusting, cooking and cleaning. Most middle and upper class households would have employed at least one maid until the Second World War.


Adherents to the ancient Zoroastrian religion that began in Persia (modern day Iran) about 1000 BCE, under its founder Zoroaster (or Zarathustra). The Parsees, whose name means 'Persians', were a group of Zoroastrians who fled to India in 785 AD to escape persecution. Parsee communities still exist today, notably in Bombay, and Zoroastrianism still struggles to survive in modern-day Iran and elsewhere.


See Parsees.


People who commit themselves to a cause. In the Second World War, the expression was used for resistance fighters against Nazi occupation, especially in Italy and Yugoslavia, and parts of Eastern Europe (akin to the Resistance in France).


The division of a previously united country into separate parts under separate government, usually by a conquering nation seeking either to 'divide and rule' or to share the spoils with an ally. The nation now known as Poland has been partitioned many times over the past four hundred years, with some areas going to Germany, others to Russia, and others to Austria-Hungary. In the South Asian context, refers to the split of India into Muslim and Hindu sections upon independence in 1947. Gandhi was profoundly opposed to the break up of the country but Jinnah and his Muslim League saw no way for India's Muslim minority to coexist with the Hindu majority. The partition saw ugly massacres on both sides as the British presence was scaled down and nascent Indian security forces struggled to cope, there were eventually huge population shifts, Muslims streaming into what are now Pakistan and Bangladesh and Hindus coming the other way.


One of the central festivals in the Jewish religious calendar, taking place around March/April each year. It commemorates the liberation of the Israelites from Egyptian slavery.


The Patidars (Patel Clan) originally from the Kaira District in Gujarat, emigrated to East and South Africa in 1900 due to famine in Kaira.


A person, without any money or any way of earning it, or someone who receives poor-law relief.


Person who lends money in return for an article being left by the borrower. If the loan is not repaid then the pawnbroker has the right to keep the article.


Pawned goods are goods of some value (eg a watch, or a musical instrument, or nowadays a camera) which the owner will give over temporarily in return for ready cash. If the owner repays the money within a set timescale, the goods are returned. If not, they may be sold.


A trader of small goods.


Members of the House of Lords, the upper chamber of the UK Parliament. Can refer to hereditary peers, whose right to sit in the Lords was passed down through generations, or life peers, who are appointed for their lifetimes. The House of Lords used to be made up almost entirely of hereditary peers and is now made up almost entirely of life peers.


Evangelical Christian movements that place special emphasis on the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. This is often shown by worshippers going into trance-like states and 'speaking in tongues'.


A medical doctor who is not a surgeon.


A way of assembling manufactured goods, in which the piece-worker performs only one limited part of the process (eg attaching a sleeve to a garment), rather than the full sequence of tasks to produce a finished product. Piece-work can often be done in the home or small workshop, rather than a factory, and has been associated with low pay and job insecurity.

Piob Mor

A traditional Irish wind instrument, similar to the Scottish Bagpipes.

Planter(s), Plantation(s)

A planter was someone who owned an estate or plantation in the Caribbean or South Asia for growing crops such as sugar, cotton or tea.


An organised massacre of a particular ethnic group, originally that of Jews killed in Russia or eastern Europe.


A belief in Enoch Powell's opposition to immigration, most famously stated in the 'Rivers of Blood' speech given in Birmingham in 1968. Powell predicted racial violence across the country if immigration continued, despite some initial support from extremists the speech lead to the effective end of Powell's political career and he was exiled to the back benches of Parliament.


In Hindu myth, divine creatures who proceeded from the mind of Brahma, a name applied to some of the deities, but particularly identified with the Rishis.

Prerogative Court

A type of church court.


Members of a protestant church in Ireland begun in the mid-17th century by migrant Scots in Ulster. Presbyterian refers to the form of church government where the ministers and members share in the organisation and administration of the church.


Workers in the tailoring industry who iron the garments. In the early 20th century they often had to lift heavy irons hundreds of times a day.

Primary Material

Primary material (or sources) are original historical documents, oral history interviews and other unique material. This is the material from which history books are written.

Primary Valuation

The Primary Valuation, also known as the Griffith's valuation after the head of the valuation operation, Sir Richard Griffith, was carried out in Ireland between 1847 and 1864. The survey contained details of land value, tenancy and ownership throughout the country.

Probate, Probated

The official process of making (or proving) the the will left by someone who has died is genuine.


The official process of proving or making sure that the will of someone who has died is genuine.


A paid occupation, especially one which needs training and a formal qualification such as medicine or the law.


A native of the Punjab region which spans India and Pakistan.

Public Record Office (PRO) - now known as The National Archives

The Public Record Office is one of the Moving Here partners. It is now known as The National Archives. More information about them is available from the Partners section of this site.

Public Record Office of Northern Ireland (PRONI)

The Public Record Office of Northern Ireland is one of the Moving Here partners. More information about them is available from the Partners section of this site.


Jewish 'Festival of Lots' commemorating the survival of the Jewish people in the time of the Persian Empire, as recorded in the Book of Esther, read on the festival. It falls around March each year.

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A piece of open ground surrounded by buildings on four sides, short for 'Quadrangle'. Often to be found in schools and colleges.


Mohammad Ali Jinnah, the first leader of Pakistan and considered by Pakistanis to be the father of the Nation.

Quarter Sessions

Courts which sat usually four times a year to hear a variety of cases. They also handled administrative matters such as the licenses for owners of public houses and itinerant traders.


The minimum number of people required at a gathering (eg a committee) in order for its proceedings to be binding.

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Hebrew term literally meaning 'My Master' or 'My Teacher'. It is a minister of the Jewish religion. Strictly speaking, he or she is a teacher - not someone divinely ordained, as a priest is considered to be.

Race Relations Bill

This bill became the 1965 Race Relations Act and was introduced in April 1965. It made racial discrimination in certain contexts a criminal offence.

Rag Cutter

A person employed to cut up rags into small pieces for use in manufacturing paper.


The ninth month of the Muslim year, during which a strict fast is observed from sunrise to sunset.


Most Sikh immigrants to England via East Africa are of this caste.


A person's position on the social scale.

Rank and File

Used in a military sense, this term refers to the ordinary soldiers and non-commissioned officers.


A religious movement of Jamaican origin believing that the Emperor Haile Selassie of Ethiopia was the Messiah.


Taxes raised by local councils to pay for local services.


Men serving in the navy who were not officers, generally applied to ordinary seamen.

Record Office / Repositories

Alternative names for an archive. It is a physical building where archives are held and where the public can have access to them.


A term used to describe England and Welsh Roman Catholics who maintained their faith despite persecution by the state when Catholicism was banned by the state between 1558 and the late-18th century.

Reform Schools

Schools for juvenile offenders.


Official notification of births, marriages and deaths to the authorities.


The support of the destitute with food or food vouchers by the authorities or a charity.


A movement pushing for the repeal or removal of the Corn Laws in the 19th century.


Storage places.


Storage place.


A renewal of activity or interest in a movement, often associated with religious groups.

Rights of Tenure

The conditions under which property or land is rented.

Rosh Hashanah

Jewish New Year, commemorating the creation of the universe. Falls around September/October.

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A day of religious observance and refraining from work, kept by Jews from Friday evening to Saturday evening.


Applies in a Christian context to people who, in their lifetimes, were exceptionally holy or virtuous or who suffered martyrdom, and who, after their death, are 'sanctified' as a mark of recognition by the church.


A Gaelic expression meaning 'Saxon', usually used abusively by Scots and Irish people to refer to the English.


Women who sew, especially as a job.

Seacole Fund

This was organised by members of the military establishment to raise money for Mary Seacole, who returned bankrupt from the Crimea War.


A parliamentary seat is another term for the constituency held by an MP. The term can also be used to refer to the land or estate from which a noble draws his name eg: Lord Clanricarde drew his name from the Clanricarde estate in Ireland.

Secondary Material

Secondary material (or sources) are books or articles in which an event is seen through the eyes of another person, usually an historian, writer or journalist.


A group of followers of a religious teacher or leader.


Someone who maintains a narrow-minded loyalty to a particular sect or group.


A Jewish ritual service celebrated around the family table on the first night or first two nights of Passover (the major Jewish spring festival remembering the liberation of the Israelites from Egyptian slavery).

Sephardi (Sephardim)

From the word 'Sepharad' which means Spain. Refers to a Jew of Spanish or Portuguese origin but generally used now for Jews from the Middle East and North African communities.


A number of items arranged in numerical or alphabetical sequence.


The establishment of a community or the resolution of a dispute.


Hebrew word for the Sabbath.


Yiddish word for matchmaker, someone who arranges a Jewish wedding.


An unlicensed place or private house selling alcohol, especially in Ireland and South Africa.


The ritual process for slaughtering animals for food according to Jewish law.

Shechita Board

The organization which trains and licenses kosher slaughterers and butchers.

Shi'a; Shia; Shiite; Shi'ite

Adherents of Shi'ism, the second largest denomination of Islam, after Sunnism; those who, in addition to following the sunna of Prophet Muhammad, believe in the Imamat of 'Ali b. Abi Talib and his descendants through Fatima. The three primary Shi'i groups are the Ithna'asharis , the Ismailis and the Zaydis.


Until 1971, one pound in UK money was made up of 20 shillings, each made up of 12 (old) pence. 'One shilling' would be shown as '1s' or '1/-', and was the equivalent of 5p in today's money.


Seven day period of mourning in Jewish religion, observed for a close relative. Also a Hindu god.


A Hebrew word meaning catastrophe or destruction, which is used to refer to the Holocaust.


The Yiddish expression for a small town or village, usually applied specifically to towns and villages with significant Jewish populations in the Pale of Settlement.


Yiddish word for a synagogue.


A term for a brother or sister.


A Jewish match for marriage. See also Shadchen.


Jewish prayer-book for daily and Sabbath use.


Followers of Sikhism, a religion based on one god founded in Punjab in the 15th century by Guru Nanak.

Simchat Torah

'Rejoicing of the Law'. Jewish festival.

Sinn Fein

The political wing of the Irish Republican Army, committed to the establishment of an Irish Republic including the six counties of Northern Ireland and, until recently, supporters of terrorism in an effort to achieve this aim.

Six Pence or 6d

Six old pence or half a Shilling. Coinage prior to decimalisation.


Members of a youth subculture who are characterized by close-cropped hair. Historically skinheads have been associated with right-wing racist beliefs.

Slop Sellers

People who trade in cheap clothing. Sometimes refers specifically to sailors' clothing which was known in the 19th century as 'slops'.


An acute contagious disease caused by a virus, with a high death rate if not treated. By the late-20th century it had been more or less eradicated across the globe.

South Asian

South Asian, as used in the 'Moving Here' website, refers to the countries of the Indian subcontinent. It was also decided to include the experiences of East African Asians who came to England in the 1970s in this section.

Specialist Repositories

A number of businesses, charities and universities may have material that could be of use to you in your research. For example, if you had an ancestor who worked for a bank there may be personnel records, if somebody was helped by a charity or a hospital you may be able to look at the file relating to the case. Most are listed here at www.hmc.gov.uk/archon/archondirectoryexternal link.


A woman who has never been married.

A person taking official responsibility for the actions or financial support of another. Settled immigrants can sponsor people applying to immigrate.

Starch Maker

Somebody who makes starch. This is an odourless, tasteless substance obtained from cereals and potatoes which is used in a spray or powder form to stiffen fabric.

Stay Trimmer

Someone employed in one process of making women's stays or corsets.

Steam Packet

A steam boat travelling regularly between ports, originally for carrying post.


A person employed at a dock to load and unload ships.


Yiddish word for a one-roomed synagogue, often set by immigrants from the same community in the homeland and often occupying converted. (See also Shul and Chevra).


A compartment in a steamship in which the boilers and furnace are housed.


The right to vote in political elections.


An adherent to a mystic Islamic sect.


Adherents of the majority branch of Islam, Sunnism; from the term sunni which means a follower of the sunna of the Prophet Muhammad.

Sus Laws

The 1824 Vagrancy Act was passed to stop soldiers coming back from the Napoleonic wars, begging on the streets. People could be convicted on the sole testimony of the arresting officer for being "a suspected person loitering with intent to steal". Most stopped were never charged with any offence.


The concept of self-rule developed during the Indian independence struggle.

Swaminaraya Sanstha

A socio-spiritual Hindu organization.

Sweated Labour

Employment in cramped conditions, for long hours and low pay. Typically applies to the garment industry, and especially in the late-19th century, although 'sweatshops' still exist in Britain, not to mention in countries with less stringent employment laws.


See Sweated Labour.


A factory or workshop employing workers employed for long hours and under poor conditions.


The mainly Muslim inhabitants of Sylhet in the north-eastern part of Bangladesh and the neighbouring parts of Assam. Their language, Sylheti, is spoken by about 10 million people worldwide.


A building where a Jewish congregation meets for religious teaching and worship.

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Hebrew word for a Jewish prayer shawl that has knotted fringes on the four corners, usually made of white woven wool with black or blue stripes. It is traditional for the male to be buried in his tallit (but with the fringes cut off).


The collected commentaries on the Bible written in Babylon by Jewish scholars in the early centuries AD, it represents the body of Jewish civil and ceremonial law and tradition.

Talmud Torah

A junior school for Jewish children in which they are taught Hebrew, Bible study, and the other elements of Judaism. Also denotes the study of Jewish law.


The oldest living language in India.

Tea Cooper

Dock workers involved in the packing and hauling of tea.


Jewish phylacteries or prayer boxes - small leather boxes containing Hebrew texts written on parchment - worn by observant Jewish men over the age of 13 during morning prayers.


The temperance movement started in the 19th century to encourage people to stop drinking alcohol. Temperance Societies were formed in a number of countries including the United States, Ireland, Scotland and England.


Building especially designed for public religious worship.

Tenant Farmers

People who farm land which is rented from a landlord.

Tenants at Will

People renting land or property who can be evicted without notice.


Large building divided into separate living accommodation for a number of families or individuals.


Relating to wills left by people who have died.

Testamentry Collections

The wills of people who have died which are held in one place.


A person who is making or who has made a will.

The Boys

A group of young survivors of the concentration camps who were brought to Britain in 1945, under the auspices of the 'Central British Fund' and the 'Committee for the Care of Children from Concentration Camps'.

The City

The usual expression for the central business district of London and/or the financial institutions that it houses.

The Commons

Short for The House of Commons, the elected chamber of the UK Parliament.

The House

An abbreviation for either the House of Commons (see The Commons) or the House of Lords (see The Lords), depending on context.

The Lords

Short for the House of Lords - the second chamber of the UK Parliament, made up mainly of people who are appointed members for life. Also includes some hereditary members (whose right to sit in the Lords passes from one generation to the next), some Anglican bishops, and the 'Law Lords', senior judges who sit in the Lords in its function as the court of final appeal in the UK. The composition and functions of the Lords are currently undergoing major reform.

The Structure of the Army

The basic unit of the British Army is the Regiment, which consist of one, two or more battalions. A battalion comprises about 1,000 men (often many fewer) who are divided into companies and platoons. Often one battalion is stationed abroad while the other is based in Britain recruiting and training troops. The regiment often inspires intense loyalty with distinct traditions, perhaps going back centuries, and they often recruit in a particular district. For brief histories of many regiments visit www.regiments.orgexternal link.


This was a form of taxation whereby one tenth of a person's income or the produce from their land, whether derived from crops or animals, was to be paid to the church for the support of the clergy.


The right to own.


The National Archives, the new name for the Public Record Office.


An administratie area.


A short printed pamphlet, on religious or political subjects, for distribution to members of the public.

Trades Unions (Trade Union / Trades Union)

Organized associations of workers in a trade, groups of trades, or profession, formed to protect and further their rights and interests.

Transcribed Phonetically

A word written down according to how it sounds which may not be how it is spelt.


Migrants passing through one country or region on their way to another.


A word written down using the closest corresponding letters of a different alphabet or language.

Tsarist Regime

The Tsars were the Emperors of Russia before their overthrow in the Russian Revolution in 1917. The Tsars, unlike most modern monarchies, had almost unlimited powers, and held the majority of their people in abject subservience and poverty. The expression 'Tsarist' commonly refers to this dictatorial style of rule.

Tween Dêcks

The space between the decks of a ship.

Two-Up Two-Down

A house with two reception rooms downstairs and two bedrooms upstairs.

Typhus/Typhus Fever

An infectious disease caused by bacteria, characterized by a purple rash, headaches, fever and delirium.

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In Northern Ireland, people who favour maintaining the union with Great Britain (rather than joining the Republic of Ireland).

Unleavened Bread

In Hebrew: Matzah. A flat bread, made of flour and water only, eaten on the festival of Passover (Pesach) which commemorates the Exodus of the Israelites from Egypt.


An Indian language closely related to Hindi spoken principally in Pakistan and by the Muslim communities in India, or emigrants from these communities. It is written in Arabic script.

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Beliefs and practices associated particularly with the island of Haiti, in the Caribbean, and thought to have been brought over by slaves from their African homeland. Places strong emphasis on magic and the spirit world.

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Weigh Master

One whose business it is to weigh ore, hay, merchandise, etc. One licensed as a public weigher.


A person who makes or repairs wooden wheels.


The name given to a relatively progressive political group in the British Parliament in the 18th century, whose successors by the middle of the 19th had become the Liberal Party.

White Collar

A term used to describe people in non-manual occupations including office workers and the professions, such as the law.


A woman whose husband has died.


A man whose wife has died.

Women's Suffrage

The right of women to vote in Parliamentary elections. In 1928 this was finally extended to all women in Britain after a long and bitter campaign.


A place of food and shelter, in exchange for work, provided for paupers in Britain the 19th century. Designed as an improvement on the previous arrangement, under which individual parishes were responsible for the poor (and often expelled them to neighbouring parishes in order to avoid looking after them), the workhouse became a harsh and hated institution, and an emblem of failure that the poor would go to great lengths to avoid.

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Yellow Fever

An infectious, and often fatal, disease spread by mosquitoes in tropical zones.


From 'Jahrzeit' German word meaning 'year's time'. Refers to anniversary of a Jewish person's death.


An Orthodox Jewish college or training college (for rabbis) devoted primarily to Talmud and rabbinic literature. Originally the term signified a meeting of scholars.


The language that was spoken, especially in the 18th-20th centuries, by Jews in Central and Eastern Europe, and brought with emigrants from those lands to Britain, the United States and elsewhere. It originated as a dialect of German, reflecting the fact that many of the forebears of the Central and Eastern European Jews lived in earlier centuries in the area now known as Germany. It is traditionally written in Hebrew, rather than Roman, letters. It is the language spoken in the home and the workplace, in contrast to Hebrew which is used for prayer.

Yizkor Books

These are some of the best sources for learning about Jewish communities in Eastern and Central Europe. Groups of former residents have published these books as a tribute to their former homes and the people who were murdered during the Holocaust. The majority of these books were written in Hebrew or Yiddish. See www.jewishgen.org/Yizkorexternal link.

Yom Kippur

The most solemn religious fast of the Jewish year. It is the last day of 10 that begin with Jewish New Year (Rosh Hashana).

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Refers either to the movement, or to the set of beliefs, favouring the development (and then the protection) of a Jewish nation in Israel. Calls for a national homeland started developing - alongside similar calls from many other divided peoples, like the Italians and the Germans - in the mid-19th century. The movement gathered pace with the mass emigration of Jews from the oppressive conditions of Eastern Europe toward the end of that century. The right of Jews to a 'homeland' in Palestine was recognised in the Balfour Declaration of 1917, opening the doors to a steady stream of immigrants seeking to make their lives there. In 1947 a United Nations resolution called for the partitioning of Palestine, giving the Jews their own nation state of Israel in part of the territory; and the state was declared, against heavy opposition from Arab countries in 1948.


Somebody who supports Zionism.


See Parsees.

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