Dutch term – Trekschuit

Two people in harness drawing a barge

Trekschuit literally means "pull barge" and is a low-bottomed ship that was dragged along canals and rivers. In the waterlogged country that is The Netherlands, trekschuiten were one of the main forms of transportation for people and goods over longer distances, as roads were often so muddy that they were useless for most of the year. Most … [Read more...]

Column: One tree

People climbing trees for a better view

Familysearch allows you to collaborate on an integrated family tree that joins everyone, like a Wikipedia for deceased persons. The idea is that genealogists can reach consensus about people: about the dates and places of events, but more importantly about relationships between people. Users can cite or upload sources to support their … [Read more...]

Quick tip: names change

Military recruits showing name signs

"The past is a foreign country, they did things differently there."1 One of the fundamental differences is the way that people were named. In many parts of the Netherlands, people did not have a hereditary surname until 1811. But even after 1811, names could get changed, for instance if someone emigrated or if the clerk made an error. The next … [Read more...]

Dutch term – Toegang

woman holding a looking glass

The Dutch word toegang literally means "access" or "entrance." In archival jargon, it means a finding aid that describes the content of a record group. For example, you can have a toegang on the records of the Dutch East India Company. Another word for toegang is inventaris. In source citations or search forms, you can encounter the word toegang … [Read more...]

Negroes for New Netherland

Fortress of Elmina, coast of Guinea

While searching the notarial archives at the Amsterdam City Archives, I came across a record that tells how Dutch merchants took African slaves from Guinea and shipped them to the New World, trading some in the West Indies and taking the rest to New Netherland. As it is rare to find accounts of voyages of slave vessels, I thought I would share this … [Read more...]

Quick tip: The first of same-named siblings probably died young

Etten-Leur, population register 1860-1869, household of Martinus Trouw.

If you see multiple siblings with the same name, the first one probably died before the next one was born. Dutch parents typically named their children after relatives. By giving the new child the name of the deceased sibling, both the deceased sibling and the relative that that sibling had been named after were commemorated. There is one … [Read more...]

Dutch term – Vondeling

Marriage record of Johan Jacob Tanto and Johanna Frederiks, Enkhuizen, 23 March 1817

A vondeling is a foundling, an abandoned child whose parents are unknown. It was rare for children to be abandoned. Most cases where children were abandoned took place in the city, not in the countryside. Most abandoned children were raised in orphanages or were placed in a home while the city poor relief paid for their … [Read more...]

Quick tip: Finding 20th century people

Personal index card

Finding people who lived in the 20th century can be difficult because of Dutch privacy laws. One of the best sources for 20th century information are the personal record cards, which are available for all Dutch residents who died in the Netherlands after 1938. They provide information about that person's dates and places of birth, marriage and … [Read more...]

Dutch term – Hooimaand

July. Image credits: Koninklijke Bibliotheek

Hooimaand (literally: hay month) is the old word for July. … [Read more...]

News from the Netherlands – June 2014

View of Calicut, India, 1665

'News from the Netherlands' is a new monthly series on this blog to inform you about the best new websites, projects and books that help you find and understand your Dutch ancestors. New websites The Brabants Historical Information Center has a new website (Dutch only). The 'Stamboom' [Family Tree] page has several indexes, some with scans … [Read more...]