Dutch term – Koekoeksgraad

painting of a Dutch cuckoo

I first heard the word Koekoeksgraad last week and liked it so much that I wanted to share it with you. Koekoeksgraad means "degree of cuckoos," the degree of non-paternity events per generation. I first heard the term in a presentation by forensic DNA expert Maarten Larmuseau, in a Youtube recording of his presentation about using Y-chromosomes … [Read more...]

Case study – Working with farm names


In parts of the provinces of Drenthe, Overijssel and Gelderland, people used to call themselves after the farm they lived on. It wasn't until the introduction of the civil registration in 1811 that their names became fixed. My own name, Hoitink, is an example of such a farm name. Since the name could change every time a person moved, this … [Read more...]

Quick tip – Napoleonic army records available online

mocking image showing France and the Netherlands as a bridal couple promising eternal faithfulness

During the French occupation (1795-1813), many Dutch young men were conscripted into Napoleon's army. The French department of Defense has now made scans of the military records for this period online on the "Mémoire des hommes" [Memory of the men] website. The website contains military records of other French soldiers as well, including those … [Read more...]

Dutch term – Schoonmoeder

Marriage of Henk Hoitink and Mien Woordes, 1942

A schoonmoeder is a mother-in-law. In older documents, the term is also sometimes used for stepmother (another type of mother-by-marriage). … [Read more...]

My Attempt to Free Anne Frank’s Diary

Anne Frank sitting behind a desk

This year marked the 70th anniversary of Anne Frank's untimely death. Under Dutch law, works by an author are in the public domain on 1 January following the 70th anniversary of the author's death. This means that Anne Frank's diary should be in the public domain as of 1 January 2016. However, the Anne Frank Fonds claims that her father, Otto … [Read more...]

Sinterklaas Giveaway Winner

Children putting shoes by the fireplace

The winner of the Sinterklaas giveaway is Victoria Davis from Texas. She will receive the DVD and syllabus of the "Researching your Dutch Ancestors" webinar. Congratulations, Victoria! All of you who did not win can still view the webinar at the Legacy Family Tree Webinars website. If you're not a member of Family Tree Webinars yet, you need to … [Read more...]

Dutch term – Akte van Bekendheid

Woman testifying before a judge

An akte van bekendheid is a record of knowledge, usually a statement by four witnesses who all testify about the truth of something. For example, when people got married after 1811, they had to submit extracts of their birth records and sometimes also extracts of the death records of their parents, former spouses and even grandparents (in the … [Read more...]

WieWasWie Introduces Paid Subscription

WieWasWie with cash register showing 18.50 euros

The largest genealogy website in the Netherlands, WieWasWie, will introduce a paid subscription starting 1 January 2016 [Update: this has been postponed to February]. The data can still be accessed for free, but some of the advanced functionality will be behind a paywall. Paid version The following functionality will be behind a … [Read more...]

Quick tip – Emigrant names were often phonetic equivalents

G de Jong name tag in a window

If you're trying to figure out what the original name of your immigrant ancestor was, don't just focus on official translations, but also figure out what names may have sounded the same. For example, a woman named Jessica in Australia may well have been called Tjitske. A man named Dick (short for Richard) in the United States may well have been … [Read more...]

Dutch term – Horige

farm and shed

A horige is a serf or villain, an un-free farmer who was bound to the land. Serfdom started in the Middle Ages. In most parts of the Netherlands, it was abolished by the 1500s. In some parts, like the eastern parts of Drenthe, Overijssel and Gelderland, a diluted form of serfdom continued until the French occupation of 1795. Rights and duties of … [Read more...]