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Bike in the sky

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 →

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maid scrubbing the pavement

Column – The right to be forgotten

A new European guideline ensures that citizens have the right to be forgotten. They can ask search engines to remove results that are no longer relevant. That will prevent your drunk selfie from appearing on the first page of search results the next time a potential employer searches for your name. The guideline is primarily aimed Continue reading →

Westerbork monument, the place from where most Jews were transported to the camps in Eastern Europe. Credits:

Ask Yvette – Are there any records of people who helped Jews in World War II?

Earlier this week, Kirk Payne wrote the following comment: I have a request that might stump you. My wife’s immediate ancestors immigrated to the US in the early 20th Century. Most of her great- and great-great Aunts and Uncles remained in the Netherlands. She had a cousin ask us if we’d seen any records showing her relatives Continue reading →

Tip of the week

Old woman reading a newspaper holding a looking glass

Quick tip – The meaning of terms changed

Over time, the meaning of terms could change. For example, the term stiefvader [stepfather] now means the husband of your mother. But in past times, the word would be used for any type of father-by-marriage, including the father of the wife (now called schoonvader or father-in-law). To fully understand the meaning of a record, it Continue reading →

Term of the week

Kwartierstaat of Jan van de Poll, 1749

Dutch term – Achterneef

An achterneef (literally: behind cousin) is a male relative. The term covers the English terms great-nephew, first cousin once removed and second cousin.