Dutch term – Dood

Merry party disturbed by death. Gesina ter Borch, 1660.

The word Dood means dead or deceased. Information about deaths can be found in death records (after 1811) or burial records (before 1811). In most cases, it will not be possible to find a cause of death. … [Read more...]

Where to find Dutch genealogy records online

Row of books with names of poorters

So you found out that your immigrant ancestor is Dutch. Perhaps you notice that the websites that you normally use don't have many Dutch records. Where do you go go next? Here are my favorite free websites to find records of our Dutch ancestors. All these websites provide free access to indexes, although some will charge to access or download … [Read more...]

Quick tip – Not all religions baptized infants

Baptism in the Mennonite Church, 1743

In the period before the civil registration, which was introduced in most of the Netherlands in 1811, baptismal records are the usual documents to consult for information about the birth date of an ancestor. In most cases, children were baptized within days of being born. But some religions did not baptize infants but waited until people were old … [Read more...]

Dutch term – Archiefstuk

Charter of 950

An Archiefstuk is an archival record, a document created or received in the course of a person or organization's activities or tasks. The oldest surviving archiefstuk in the Netherlands is a 950 charter whereby King Otto I granted the right of a market and toll to Cassalum (unidentified location). The charter is kept by the Regionaal Historisch … [Read more...]

Top 5 sources for images to illustrate your Dutch family tree

Children peeling potatoes while wearing traditional costumes, 1946

Here are my favorite websites for finding images to illustrate your family tree. National Archives Photo collection The National Archives in The Hague has over 14 million photos in its collection, many from press offices, taken by professional photographers. Over a million photos have been scanned and made available in the photo collection part … [Read more...]

Quick tip – Always check the original record

Two man operating a rasp

My client wanted me to find interesting stories about her ancestors. Normally, that would have me scouring newspapers and court records, but only after I find the basic information about birth, marriages and death. The civil registration records are not the first place you would think to look for interesting stories, but sometimes they will give … [Read more...]

Dutch term – Gezel

Etching of a carpenter at work

A gezel is a journeyman, a craftsman who had already finished basic training but had not passed his master's exam yet and had not been admitted to the guild. The term is also used to indicate someone who worked for a boss rather than having their own shop, so a gezel doesn't mean the person is young. You can find the word gezel used as a suffix … [Read more...]

How to obtain certified copies of birth, marriage or death records from the Netherlands

Information desk at the Amsterdam Civil Registration

I often receive requests by people who need to obtain official certificates of Dutch birth, marriage or death records for legal purposes. Obtaining certified copies is not a service I provide, so I will give you the instructions on how to do this yourself. Reasons for needing a certified copy There may be several reasons why you need an … [Read more...]

Quick tip – the meaning of Holland

Map of Holland (the province). Nicolaas Visscher, 1682 (public domain)

If you see "Holland" in a published source, like a book or an online tree, chances are that the person means the country of the Netherlands. If you see "Holland" in a Dutch record prior to 1840, Holland refers to the province by that name, in the west of the Netherlands. In 1840, the province was split into Noord-Holland and Zuid-Holland. As … [Read more...]

Dutch term – Doodgraver


The term doodgraver literally means 'dead digger.' It is the person who digs the graves for the dead. In larger towns, this was a full-time occupation. In small towns, the church sometimes hired poor people to dig the graves, making them work for their allowance. A grave digger was not only supposed to dig the graves but also to collect any … [Read more...]