Quick tip – Use Street View to ‘visit’ your ancestor’s home town

Farm

Google Street View has been all over the Netherlands, so you can use this service to make a virtual visit to your ancestor's home town. To use Google Street View, look up the address or name of the town in Google Maps and then click "Street view" or drag the yellow man unto the map. … [Read more...]

Dutch term – Oorkonde

Charter with seals hanging from the bottom, some missing

An oorkonde is a charter; a record with seals hanging from the bottom. In the Middle Ages, most transactions went unrecorded, but the ones that were, were recorded in charters. Oorkondes are usually written on vellum or parchment, made from animal skin. With the invention of paper made from rags, charters went out of style although they … [Read more...]

Five reasons why it’s awesome to have Dutch ancestors

plate with cookies

Do you have Dutch ancestors? Congratulations! Here are five things that are awesome about having Dutch ancestors. 1. Dutch records are excellent Since 1850, the government did not just keep census records, they kept them up to date so they always know who's living where. These are called population registers. Civil registration of birth, … [Read more...]

Quick tip – Free Dutch language course

children sitting in a classroom with a female teacher in front

Have you always wanted to learn Dutch? The University of Groningen is teaching a free online course that will teach you the basics of the language in three weeks. The next course starts 1 June 2015. Read more information about the Dutch language course on the Future Learn website. … [Read more...]

Dutch term – Archiefvormer

women working with card catalogs

An Archiefvormer is the creator of an archive. Examples of archiefvormers are municipalities, churches, societies, foundations and private persons. Thinking about which archiefvormers your ancestor may have been in contact with is a great way to discover unknown records. Read the article Find your ancestors by understanding how records are … [Read more...]

Review – Atlas De Wit: City Atlas of the Low Countries

Groenlo

Last year, I won a wonderful facsimile atlas in a contest by the Royal Library. I love maps and am a founding member of the study group for the history of cartography in my home town. When I saw that the Royal Library was giving away a copy of this atlas for the best tip on how to get the most out of their newspaper website Delpher, I did my best … [Read more...]

Quick tip – Search for common OCR errors

Text mistakenly indexed as 'Harnerstein'

As genealogists, we often search pictures of texts, for example when we use newspaper websites like Delpher. Often, automatic character recognition techniques (OCR) have been used to convert the images to searchable text. These techniques aren't perfect, especially with poor quality ink, old fonts or digitized microfilms. The mistakes that OCR … [Read more...]

Dutch term – Pasen

group of children pulling a cart loaded with wood

Pasen is the Dutch term for Easter. In the Netherlands, Easter Sunday and Easter Monday are official holidays and most people have the day off. Most of the Easter traditions that are celebrated in the Netherlands are pretty universal, like painting and hiding eggs. In the eastern part of the country there is a more unusual tradition: Easter … [Read more...]

Quick tip – Not many records on passengers passing through Rotterdam

harbor

If you've been watching Who Do You Think You Are? in the US, you may have noticed that both Josh Groban and Angie Harmon had ancestors who left Europe via Rotterdam. Rotterdam has been one of the most important harbors in the world for centuries. Since the 17th century, it has been the final port of departure for millions of emigrants. These people … [Read more...]

April Fool’s Day in the Netherlands

Bike

April Fool's Day is celebrated in the Netherlands. The first recorded April Fool's joke in Dutch dates to about 1560, when a poem mentioned how a servant recognized a prank that his master was trying to pull on him.1 The best April Fool's joke that I've seen up close was when I was studying at the University of Twente. The nearby Grolsch brewery … [Read more...]