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11 myths about Dutch Genealogy

11 Myths About Dutch Genealogy

Here are some misconceptions I’ve encountered that people have about researching their ancestors. Some of them are probably true for other parts of the world too! 1: People did not have last names before 1811 This myth has some truth, as he civil registration of births, marriages and deaths was introduced in 1811 and required everybody to have Continue reading →

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Laundress, by Gesina ter Borch, about 1652.

Dutch term – Wasvrouw

A wasvrouw was a laundress. It was an occupation for poor women, who were usually single or widowed.

Friendship book of Pieter van Harinxma thoe Slooten.
Credits: Koninklijke Bibliotheek, Wikimedia Commons (CC-BY-SA)

Ask Yvette – How to capitalize Dutch names with prefixes

Many Dutch names have prefixes like Ter, Van or Van der. People have asked me if and how they should be capitalized. Here’s what the current rules are for Dutch (they’re different in Belgium and other parts of the world). A prefix that is preceded by another part of the name is not capitalized. Parts of Continue reading →

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Bird's eye view of Pella, Iowa

Popular destinations per religion

People who emigrated, usually did so in groups of like-minded people. One thing that bound them was religion. If your ancestor was Roman Catholic, he probably went where other Roman Catholics lived and where you find one Christian Reformed emigrant, you will probably find several. Here are some destinations I found in my own research of 19th Continue reading →

Oudenbosch in 1739

Source – Baptismal record

Before 1811, baptismal records are the main source for information about an ancestor’s birth date. Baptismal records should have been kept since the Trente council of 1545-1563, but for most areas they only survive since the early to mid 1600s. Most children were baptized within days of being born. In some churches, children were baptized the next Continue reading →

Tip of the week

cemetery of the Dutch Reformed Church in Castricum

Quick tip – Find graves on photos of churches

The website of the Rijksdienst voor Cultureel Erfgoed [Cultural Heritage Service] has many photos of churches, often going back to the early to mid 20th century. Some of these photos feature cemeteries. The quality of the photos and scans is often high enough to read the text on the markers. Earlier this year, I found a Continue reading →

Term of the week

Dome prison in Breda

Dutch term – Gevangenis

A gevangenis is a prison. The modern prison system was introduced in 1811. Many people went to jail, often for petty crimes. Prison records can tell you if any of your ancestors ever went to jail. Read more about prison records.