Dutch term – slager

butcher cleaving the meat

A slager is a butcher. An old term for slager is 'vleeshouwer' or 'vleeschhouwer' (literally: meat cleaver). Poor people did not often eat meat. One of the recurring themes in letters written by emigrants to the United States is their surprise that everyone is able to afford eating meat. These 'spekbrieven' [bacon letters] are one of the reasons … [Read more...]

Twisted family relationships in Nijmegen

Riddle

In the 17th century, a genealogical riddle was published in Nijmegen. The Nijmegen riddle A painting hangs in the Nijmegen Town Hall showing a young woman with an old man lying in her lap, with six sons standing next to her: two in red, two in green and two in white. The wife of the old man speaks: "Remark and see that I declare The two in … [Read more...]

Quick tip: Reading Dutch handwriting (video)

Teacher in front of a classroom

Familysearch has three free videos that teach you the basics about reading Dutch handwriting: Reading Dutch Handwritten Records Lesson 1: The Dutch Alphabet Reading Dutch Handwritten Records Lesson 2: Dutch Words and Dates Reading Dutch Handwritten Records Lesson 3: Reading Dutch Records … [Read more...]

Dutch term – Poorter

Row of books with names of poorters

A poorter was a burgher or freeman of a chartered town. Being a poorter conveyed several privileges: Guild membership was often limited to poorters Poorters often were exempt from paying tolls Being a poorter was a requirement for many public offices People could become poorters by being born to a poorter, by marrying a poorter's … [Read more...]

Case study – the origins of Jan Dirkse van Eps

Map of Amsterdam

One of my clients asked me to research the origins of her Dutch colonial ancestor, Jan Dirkse van Eps. She graciously allowed me to share the research I did for her on my website, to make it available to other Van Eps descendants. As this article is based on the research report I wrote for her, it will also give you an insight into my work process … [Read more...]

Quick tip – Visit the virtual Jewish monument

Auschwitz main gate with the text 'Arbeit macht frei'

Today we commemorate that Camp Auschwitz was liberated 70 years ago. I visited the camp with my class in high school and it made a lasting impression on me. We saw rooms packed with children's shoes, toothbrushes, toys, and then read that it was just 1% of the total number that had been collected. Each one representing a tragic story. The … [Read more...]

Dutch term – Echtscheiding

The neglected wife encourages her husband to sort himself out

Echtscheiding (or scheiding) is the Dutch name for divorce. Up until the last part of the 20th century, divorce was pretty rare in the Netherlands. There are several ways to find out if a couple got divorced. The most common one is to look in the margins of the marriage record, where the divorce will be noted. The divorce will also be recorded … [Read more...]

New website: Alle Drenten

Alle Drenten screenshot

A new website launched this week: Alle Drenten (all people from Drenthe). Drenthe is a province in the north-east of the country. Many people from other regions lived there too, as it was home to the pauper colonies where beggars, vagrants and prisoners were sent to. The new website is the successor of DrenLias. It contains all the indexes that … [Read more...]

Quick tip – Most people did not own real estate

Meerdink farm

Historically, most people in the Netherlands did not own real estate. Most farmers were tenant farmers, often living on the same farm for generations. Others were seasonal laborers who moved from farm to farm every year. It is rare to find tenancy contracts or rental agreements as these things were usually arranged between the owner and the tenant … [Read more...]

Dutch term – Koopman

Etching of a merchant

A koopman was a merchant, with the plural being kooplieden. Kooplieden could trade in all sorts of goods, ranging from spices from the Far East, timber from the Baltic or fur from the Americas. Others traded in domestic products like grain, cloth or glassware. One of the nice things about having a koopman in your tree is that they left much … [Read more...]