Quick tip: regional costumes

Woman wearning a traditional hat with ear irons

Do you have pictures of an ancestors in regional costume? Small variations in the headgear, color or patterns of the costume will tell an expert where he or she came from. From the elaborate ear-irons in Friesland and Zeeland to the dotted fabrics in northern Overijssel, different styles tell their own stories. How long did your ancestors continue … [Read more...]

Dutch term: knecht

print showing a carpenter at work

A knecht is a term used to describe the occupation of somebody who works for somebody else. The term does not have an exact English equivalent, but terms like servant, hand, apprentice or assistant come close. Often, the type of knecht is specified, for example timmermansknecht (carpenter's hand), bakkersknecht (baker's hand) … [Read more...]

Cold Case: do you recognize these Frisian emigrants?

Group of Frisian emigrants

Tresoar, the Regional Historical Center for the province of Friesland, has a new Cold Case project. They are looking for the names of the people in two movies created in 1932 and 1936. The movies were show emigrants who came back to Friesland for Friezendei [Frisians day]. Since the late nineteenth century, thousands of people from Friesland … [Read more...]

Quick tip: “Van”-names

Medieval portrait

Many Dutch names start with "Van" (from) like "Van Benthem" (from Bentheim) and "Van den Berg " (From the mountain/hill). Often "Van"-names originated if somebody moved and used his origin to describe who he was. Some people assume that families with "Van"-names are members of the nobility. Although many noble families used "Van"-names (e.g. … [Read more...]

Dutch term: lidmaat

Cover of a membership book of Rhenen, starting in 1772

The word lidmaat (plural: lidmaten, sometimes ledematen) means member, usually a member of a protestant church. Most protestant became members by confessing around the age of 18-20. Their membership is recorded in the lidmatenboek (church membership book). If they moved, they were given a declaration by their old church so they could become members … [Read more...]

Question: How to find my immigrant ancestor in the Netherlands?

View of New York with ships in the front

So you're researching your family, and found out that your ancestor is from the Netherlands. How do you go about finding that person in Dutch records? It's often not that hard to find somebody with a similar name, but how do you go about proving that the person in Dutch records is the same as your immigrant ancestor and not a random namesake? Here … [Read more...]

Quick tip: Holland vs. Netherlands

map of the Netherlands with the name Holland stricken through

The country of the Netherlands is often called "Holland." Did you know that Holland is actually just a part of the country and a former province? Calling the Netherlands "Holland" is like calling the United Kingdom "England" (or the United States "New York"). To make it even more confusing, the Kingdom of the Netherlands includes more than just the … [Read more...]

Dutch term: kwartierstaat

Kwartierstaat of Jan van de Poll, 1749

The word kwartierstaat (literally: table of quarters) means ahnentafel, an overview of all ancestors in male and female lines. Many Dutch genealogists publish their kwartierstaat online. Searching for kwartierstaat plus a family name in a search engine like Google may give interesting results. … [Read more...]

Question: Finding a WWII soldier’s child?

Allied soldier hugged by girls.

In response to an article about Post World War II emigration, Jane Carter asked: I am looking for a lady in Holland that was my father’s girlfriend. My father has passed now but I have been told that this lady had my father's child. I know little more then her first name and an old picture she sent my father many years ago. With such little … [Read more...]

Quick tip: maiden names

Wedding photo

In official records in the Netherlands, women are usually referred to by their maiden names. This makes it much easier to find them. When looking for a record, try searching for both last names of the spouses or parents. Chances are this will quickly return several records that are relevant for the family you're researching. … [Read more...]