Quick tip – Occupations ran in the family

old print of a weaver

Occupations often ran in the family. The eldest son usually inherited the father's business, and would step in his father's footsteps. Guilds often had friendly terms for children of members, with reduced fees for apprenticeships and membership. Even younger sons who could not take over their father's business often found similar work. The son of a … [Read more...]

Dutch term – Kermis

Dutch women in traditional costume in a carousel

The kermis is the carnival. Most towns have a carnival once of twice a year. The kermis was traditionally a time of courtship, where young folks got together. Some areas had a fair, where young women would line up and young men would select the girl of their choice to take to the carnival and to walk her home at the end of the … [Read more...]

Column – Reuse

two women packing candles in an assembly line

Since 18 July 2015, the Netherlands has a law to regulate the reuse of government information. The law is intended to give an impulse to the economy if government information is used as fuel for new products and services. The law requires archives to cooperate in the reuse of government information. They can only charge the marginal costs for … [Read more...]

Quick tip – Most Catholic names end in -us or -a

baptismal font in a church

Catholic records were kept in Latin, while civil registration records are kept in Dutch (or French, depending on the time). But Catholic families often recorded the Latin version of the name as the official version with the civil authorities as well. Latin names often ended in -us (for men) or -a (for women). So a person who was called Petrus … [Read more...]

Dutch term – Wees

A statue of a man and a woman next to the crest of Zeeland

A wees is an orphan. Sometimes you will see the term halfwees [half orphan] or volle wees [full orphan] to refer to a child who lost one or both parents, respectively. While the term wees is nowadays used for a child who lost both parents, in earlier times it could be used for a child who lost one parent. You will see references like "Jan, orphan … [Read more...]

Ask Yvette – What is GenealogieOnline?

Genealogie Online screenshot

Earlier this week, the Dutch website GenealogieOnline [Genealogy Online] won a Gold Award for genealogy software from GenSoftReview. With a rating of 4.87 out of 5, it scored fourth place. Congratulations! Ancestry subscribers may be familiar with GenealogieOnline from the hints they receive to this website. Several readers have asked me about … [Read more...]

Quick tip – Check the records of neighboring towns

Place where Tonnis Willinck was shot

When you're looking for records about your ancestors, don't just limit yourself to the town where he or she lived but also check out the records of the neighboring towns. One of my most amazing finds was a map I found in a German archive, created about a boundary dispute. It showed how my ancestor Tonnis Willinck being shot and killed, around … [Read more...]

Dutch term – Kiesrecht

Women in traditional costume in a voting booth.

Kiesrecht means suffrage, the right to vote in political elections. In the Netherlands, the first democratic elections were held in 1795, but only a men owning property over a certain value were allowed to vote. It wasn't until 1917 that the right to vote was granted to all men, and women followed two years later. Voter registration records of … [Read more...]

Off to Salt Lake City

flight attendent helping passengers on a plane

Happy New Year everybody! I'll be starting the year with a great bang, since I will be heading off to Salt Lake City later this week to attend the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy. I will be taking part in the Advance Evidence Practicum, a hands-on training in solving the hardest puzzles. I will also be attending the Board meeting of the … [Read more...]

Quick tip – New Years’ traditions

Firemen eating 'oliebollen'

Different areas in the Netherlands have different New Years' traditions. Making a lot of noise is pretty universal. I recall my grandfather showing me his too-short finger on New Year's Eve to warn me about the danger of fireworks. It had cost him the tip of his finger so he only had half a nail. Another one of my ancestors was fined for … [Read more...]