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plate with cookies

Five reasons why it’s awesome to have Dutch ancestors

Do you have Dutch ancestors? Congratulations! Here are five things that are awesome about having Dutch ancestors. 1. Dutch records are excellent Since 1850, the government did not just keep census records, they kept them up to date so they always know who’s living where. These are called population registers. Civil registration of birth, marriages and deaths Continue reading →

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Groenlo

Review – Atlas De Wit: City Atlas of the Low Countries

Last year, I won a wonderful facsimile atlas in a contest by the Royal Library. I love maps and am a founding member of the study group for the history of cartography in my home town. When I saw that the Royal Library was giving away a copy of this atlas for the best tip Continue reading →

Bike

April Fool’s Day in the Netherlands

April Fool’s Day is celebrated in the Netherlands. The first recorded April Fool’s joke in Dutch dates to about 1560, when a poem mentioned how a servant recognized a prank that his master was trying to pull on him.1 The best April Fool’s joke that I’ve seen up close was when I was studying at Continue reading →

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St. Martinus Church, Venlo

The illegitimate, doubly baptized, incestuous orphan

Sometimes you read records and you wonder how much bad luck one person can handle. While doing research for a client I came across the following baptism in a transcription of the Roman-Catholic baptismal records for Venlo in 1750-1760:1 1751 13 november Anna Elisabetha conditionaliter rebaptizata est filia spuria Andreae Ketels et Gertrudis Podor qui Continue reading →

destroyed city with one church still standing

The Josh Groban episode – the Dutch part

A couple of months ago, I was asked by the producers of the US version of Who Do You Think You Are? to help with the final leg of Josh Groban’s journey to uncover the story of his ancestor Johann Jacob Zimmermann. They had found out in Germany that Zimmermann came to Rotterdam, the Netherlands, on his Continue reading →

Tip of the week

children sitting in a classroom with a female teacher in front

Quick tip – Free Dutch language course

Have you always wanted to learn Dutch? The University of Groningen is teaching a free online course that will teach you the basics of the language in three weeks. The next course starts 1 June 2015. Read more information about the Dutch language course on the Future Learn website.

Term of the week

Charter with seals hanging from the bottom, some missing

Dutch term – Oorkonde

An oorkonde is a charter; a record with seals hanging from the bottom. In the Middle Ages, most transactions went unrecorded, but the ones that were, were recorded in charters. Oorkondes are usually written on vellum or parchment, made from animal skin. With the invention of paper made from rags, charters went out of style although Continue reading →