Birth records (Dutch: geboorteakte) are a part of the civil registration and were kept since 1811 (or slightly earlier for some parts of the Netherlands). A birth record lists the following data:
- Place, date and time of birth
- Names of parents
- Name, profession and age of the one registering the birth (often the father)
- Names, profession and age of the witnesses
- Often: address where the birth took place
Reliability of birth records
The law required that each birth was registered within five days by the father, or in his absence, by a person who attended the birth or in whose house the birth took place. The informant had to appear at town hall and bring two witnesses (usually family members or neighbors). Two copies of the record were created and signed, one to be kept at the municipal level and the other to be kept at the provincial level. Both copies were signed at the time the record was created. If the information was later found to be false, it could only be changed by court order. Such a change would be noted in the margin. These regulations make the birth records very reliable.
What to look out for
- To protect the privacy of living people, birth records are only public after 100 years.
- Because the births could be registered up to five days after the birth, there can be a difference of a few days between the document date and the actual birth date. Index sometimes refer to the document date instead of the birth date.
- Stillborn children are not registered in the birth records, only in the death records.
Some children were born from unmarried mothers. In these cases, the birth was often registered by the midwife. If the mother married later, and her husband acknowledged the child as his, a note can be found in the margin of the birth record.
If the mother didn’t marry, she had to acknowledge her child as hers at a later date (at least before the child married). This had to be done because at the time of the registration, the mother was still recovering from labor. To make sure she was the real mother, she had to acknowledge the child.
Example: birth record of Maria Verstraeten (aka Gommeren)
In the year One thousand eight hundred sixty four, the third of September,
Appeared for us mayor, clerk of the civil registration of the municipality of ETTEN en LEUR, Mr. Bernardus Gillemans, age fourty four years, obstetrician, residing in this municipality, who declared to us, that on the second September of this year at seven o’clock in the evening, within this municipality in the house district letter I number twenty-six was born a child of the female sex, of Maria Verstraeten, laborer, residing in this municipality, to whom he declared to have given the name of Maria.
Said declaration took place in the presence of Petrus Josephus de Wolf, age twenty-eight years, clerk, and Andries Broekhoven, age seventy, municipal messenger, both residing in this municipality.
As such recorded, which we, after having read by us to the informant and the witnesses, signed with them.
The clerk mentioned above,
By marriage record of Jan Gommeren and Maria Verstraeten, passed before the clerk of the Civil Registration of the municipality of Etten en Leur on the sixteenth of August of the year eighteen hundred seventy-one, the child mentioned in the next record was acknowledged by them.
Etten, the sixteenth August eighteen hundred seventy-one.
The clerk of the civil registration of the municipality of Etten en Leur (signed) J.J. COopmans.
Breda, 17 August 1871.
The recorder of the District Court of Breda,
This record is an example of the birth record of a child born out of wedlock:
- Only the name of the mother was given
- The informant was the obstetrician, who must have attended the birth
- The note in the margin shows the mother subsequently married and that she and the groom acknowledged the child as theirs.
This record not only gives us the information about the birth of Maria Verstraeten, but also the marriage date of her parents. Whether or not Jan Gommeren was the biological child is another question, but according to the law, he was her father.
Where to find
Dutch Genealogy source score
Amount of information about births, marriages, deaths
Amount of background information about your ancestors
Online availability of scans
Online availability of indexes or transcriptions
Easy to understand if you don’t know Dutch