Dutch term – Fiets

Brush salesman on bike

As the Tour de France starts in the Netherlands this week, this is a good time to learn the meaning of a quintessentially Dutch word: fiets (bicycle). Introduction of bikes Fietsen were introduced in the Netherlands in the last part of the 19th century. They were quickly adopted and became the most popular mode of transportation. Fietsen were not … [Read more...]

Ask Yvette – Resources for Jewish genealogy in the Netherlands

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Several people have asked me how to find their Jewish ancestors in the Netherlands. I have researched several Jewish families, but don't read Hebrew so I cannot access all records. Here are some resources that have been useful in my research. Please share your own tips in the comments. Regular records Since the introduction of the civil … [Read more...]

Quick tip – The name may suggest the place of origin

Onnink farm in Winterswijk

Different regions have different traditions, not only when it comes to naming children but also when it came to choosing surnames. Someone named Bauke Ferwerda is bound to be Frisian, as the suffix -a can mostly be found in the northern provinces and Bauke is a Frisian first name. Janna Geertruida Meerdink is undoubtely from the eastern part … [Read more...]

Dutch term – Gevangenis

Dome prison in Breda

A gevangenis is a prison. The modern prison system was introduced in 1811. Many people went to jail, often for petty crimes. Prison records can tell you if any of your ancestors ever went to jail. Read more about prison records. … [Read more...]

11 Myths About Dutch Genealogy

11 myths about Dutch Genealogy

Here are some misconceptions I've encountered that people have about researching their ancestors. Some of them are probably true for other parts of the world too! 1: People did not have last names before 1811 This myth has some truth, as he civil registration of births, marriages and deaths was introduced in 1811 and required everybody to … [Read more...]

Quick tip – Find graves on photos of churches

cemetery of the Dutch Reformed Church in Castricum

The website of the Rijksdienst voor Cultureel Erfgoed [Cultural Heritage Service] has many photos of churches, often going back to the early to mid 20th century. Some of these photos feature cemeteries. The quality of the photos and scans is often high enough to read the text on the markers. Earlier this year, I found a 1950s photo of a church … [Read more...]

Dutch term – Wasvrouw

Laundress, by Gesina ter Borch, about 1652.

A wasvrouw was a laundress. It was an occupation for poor women, who were usually single or widowed. … [Read more...]

Ask Yvette – How to capitalize Dutch names with prefixes

Friendship book of Pieter van Harinxma thoe Slooten.
Credits: Koninklijke Bibliotheek, Wikimedia Commons (CC-BY-SA)

Many Dutch names have prefixes like Ter, Van or Van der. People have asked me if and how they should be capitalized. Here's what the current rules are for Dutch (they're different in Belgium and other parts of the world). A prefix that is preceded by another part of the name is not capitalized. Parts of the name are first names, initials, other … [Read more...]

Quick tip – How to find Dutch genealogy records online

Digital Resources Netherlands and Belgium (screenshot)

The website Digital Resources Netherlands and Belgium offers links to websites that publish archival records, whether in the form of scans, indexes or transcripts. The links are organized per province. Click the link 'Internet' under the name to see what sources are available online. They also offer links to passenger lists and image collections, … [Read more...]

Dutch term – Meerderjarig

couple appearing in court

Meerderjarig means 'of age,' having reached the age of majority. What the age of majority was, depends on the time and place. Youngsters could also be declared to be of age by the court, usually with consent of the parents or guardians. Age of majority in the Netherlands Period Age of majority Before 1811 Depends on the region, … [Read more...]