Dutch term: Spoorwegen

train wreck

The term Spoorwegen means Railways. The first railway in the Netherlands began in 1839, and ran between Amsterdam and Haarlem. In the rest of the 19th century, a multitude of railway companies developed a railway network that spanned the entire country. The train quickly replaced the Trekschuit (pulled barge) as the most popular form of … [Read more...]

How to find the father of an illegitimate child

Mother with baby and child

In most families, sooner or later you will encounter a child born to an unwed mother. Finding the fathers of these 'illegitimate' children can be difficult, but not necessarily impossible. I've researched dozens of these cases, both in my own tree and for clients. In four cases, I have been able to prove who the father was. In two other cases, I … [Read more...]

Quick tip – Dutch Genealogy Quiz

boy looking at paper of boy sitting next to him

Are you an expert in Dutch Genealogy? Take the Dutch Genealogy Quiz and find out in three minutes! Regular readers of this blog and newsletter will recognize some of the topics. Don't worry if you get some answers wrong. I can see which questions people struggle with and promise to write articles about these topics in the next few weeks. Take … [Read more...]

Dutch term – Timmerman

House with timber frame in Bredevoort

A timmerman is a carpenter. In the days before all houses were made of concrete or brick, carpenters built the frames. In the Middle Ages, most houses were made of wood. The houses had timber frames filled up with wicker and mud/clay. Later, bricks were used to fill in the timbers. Many carpenters were also employed to build ships. In the 17th … [Read more...]

Quick tip – Introduction to Dutch history

Entoen.nu detail showing Anne Frank

If you want to learn about Dutch history, you can read the 50 canonical articles at EnToen.nu. These articles act as 'windows to the past' and were developed as the basis for the history curriculum in schools. Each window tells the story of one canonical event in the history of the Netherlands from prehistory to the modern day. Topics include … [Read more...]

Dutch term – Schrijven

A marriage record where the bride, mothers of the bride and groom and one witness declare to be unable to write.

Schrijven means 'to write.' It wasn't until well into the 20th century that most of the people in the Netherlands were able to write. In birth, marriage or death records in the 19th century, you will often read sentences like "verklarende de moeder der bruid uit hoofde van ongeleerdheid niet te kunnen schrijven" [declared the mother of the bride, … [Read more...]

Quick tip – Was he really born there?

Map of Amsterdam

People who move a long way from their small village will often claim a larger city in the area as their place of birth since nobody would have heard of their real place of birth. If you can't find your ancestor in the city where he was supposed to be born, try looking in the villages around there. This is especially true after immigration. Many … [Read more...]

Dutch term – Herberg

painting

A herberg was an inn. Herbergen played an important role in the community. It was where people came after work or after church, where they stayed if they were travelling and where they met business partners to discuss deals. Innkeepers often played a role as informal scribes, writing documents for clients who could not read or write. Things … [Read more...]

News from the Netherlands – August 2014

Map of a river with different cities next to it

‘News from the Netherlands’ is a monthly series to inform you about the best new websites, projects and books that help you find and understand your Dutch ancestors. New records The Erfgoed Leiden en Omstreken [Heritage Leiden and Surrounding areas, which includes the Leiden archives] has published a series of indexes of Leiden records on … [Read more...]

Quick tip – Yvette Hoitink featured on the Forget-Me-Not Hour

View of New Amsterdam

Yvette Hoitink is a guest of Jane E. Wilcox on the Forget-Me-Not-Hour, a radio show in New York that is also broadcast online. The show airs on 3 September at 11 AM New York time (5 PM Netherlands time). During the one-hour show, Yvette talks about finding Dutch colonial ancestors in the Netherlands. She gives tips about using clues in names to … [Read more...]