Quick tip – Most Catholic names end in -us or -a

baptismal font in a church

Catholic records were kept in Latin, while civil registration records are kept in Dutch (or French, depending on the time). But Catholic families often recorded the Latin version of the name as the official version with the civil authorities as well. Latin names often ended in -us (for men) or -a (for women). So a person who was called Petrus … [Read more...]

Dutch term – Wees

A statue of a man and a woman next to the crest of Zeeland

A wees is an orphan. Sometimes you will see the term halfwees [half orphan] or volle wees [full orphan] to refer to a child who lost one or both parents, respectively. While the term wees is nowadays used for a child who lost both parents, in earlier times it could be used for a child who lost one parent. You will see references like "Jan, orphan … [Read more...]

Ask Yvette – What is GenealogieOnline?

Genealogie Online screenshot

Earlier this week, the Dutch website GenealogieOnline [Genealogy Online] won a Gold Award for genealogy software from GenSoftReview. With a rating of 4.87 out of 5, it scored fourth place. Congratulations! Ancestry subscribers may be familiar with GenealogieOnline from the hints they receive to this website. Several readers have asked me about … [Read more...]

Quick tip – Check the records of neighboring towns

Place where Tonnis Willinck was shot

When you're looking for records about your ancestors, don't just limit yourself to the town where he or she lived but also check out the records of the neighboring towns. One of my most amazing finds was a map I found in a German archive, created about a boundary dispute. It showed how my ancestor Tonnis Willinck being shot and killed, around … [Read more...]

Dutch term – Kiesrecht

Women in traditional costume in a voting booth.

Kiesrecht means suffrage, the right to vote in political elections. In the Netherlands, the first democratic elections were held in 1795, but only a men owning property over a certain value were allowed to vote. It wasn't until 1917 that the right to vote was granted to all men, and women followed two years later. Voter registration records of … [Read more...]

Off to Salt Lake City

flight attendent helping passengers on a plane

Happy New Year everybody! I'll be starting the year with a great bang, since I will be heading off to Salt Lake City later this week to attend the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy. I will be taking part in the Advance Evidence Practicum, a hands-on training in solving the hardest puzzles. I will also be attending the Board meeting of the … [Read more...]

Quick tip – New Years’ traditions

Firemen eating 'oliebollen'

Different areas in the Netherlands have different New Years' traditions. Making a lot of noise is pretty universal. I recall my grandfather showing me his too-short finger on New Year's Eve to warn me about the danger of fireworks. It had cost him the tip of his finger so he only had half a nail. Another one of my ancestors was fined for … [Read more...]

Dutch term – Drost

portrait of a corpulent young man

A drost or drossaard was a sheriff, someone who governed a region or town on behalf of the landlord. Some drosten required their subjects to provide special services to him, like feed his horse or do chores twice a year. These were sometimes called drostendiensten (sheriff's services). These services were a relict of feudal regulation in the … [Read more...]

Holiday wishes

Family gathering around the table for Christmas

My best wishes to everyone, and Merry Christmas to all my friends who are celebrating Christmas today. It's the time of year to look back and forward. This past year has been a wonderful year for me. It was my first year as a full-time professional genealogist and I've enjoyed myself very much. I've worked on a range a projects covering … [Read more...]

Quick tip – Emigrants often used agents

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Did you ever wonder how your emigrant ancestors bought their tickets and how they knew where to find a ship to go to America? By the end of the 1840s, many shipping companies had agents in most of the emigration hot spots. Emigrants would be able to purchase tickets form these agents, who would arrange for their travel to the harbor and for the … [Read more...]