Quick tip – Did the family hop the border or vice versa?

The borders of the Netherlands have not always been what they are today. The borders were much different before 1839.  Several towns that are now in Germany once belonged to the Netherlands, and several Dutch towns were once part of the German states. Also, what used to be the southern part of the Netherlands is now Belgium and … [Read more...]

Dutch term – Tweede Kerstdag

Tweede Kerstdag is the Second Christmas Day, like Boxing Day in the UK. It is an official holiday in the Netherlands. The Second Christmas Day was introduced to facilitate going to church multiple times, and to have some time off for contemplation and relaxation. Nowadays, the Second Christmas Day is often used to visit in-laws, go to a concert, … [Read more...]

Christmas in the Netherlands

Here are some of my favorite photos of Christmas in the Netherlands, from the collection of the National Archives in the Netherlands (CC-BY). You can click through to see the photos on the National Archives website. To all of you who celebrate Christmas this weekend: Merry Christmas! … [Read more...]

Quick tip – Improve a Life, Join Kiva

Are you looking to reach out and help somebody? I am a member of a team of genealogists who lend money on Kiva. The money is used by entrepreneurs and students all over the world who need help to improve their lives. After they repay the loan, you can lend it again. Our team "Genealogists for Families" has 330 members and has already lent … [Read more...]

Dutch term – Stal

A stal is a stable. A stalhouder is a stable keeper. Originally this would have been a cattle farmer, but the meaning later changed to somebody who rents out horses and carriages. … [Read more...]

Column – Destroyed

"How many of you want your work destroyed after you're gone?" This question was asked by Thomas W. Jones during a lecture. The crowd laughed; of course that was nobody's intention. Still, this will be the reality for most of us. We've invested a lot in our research; in time but also in money. Books, subscriptions, memberships, travel costs, … [Read more...]

Quick tip – Create a Town Timeline

To understand your ancestors' lives better, it can help to create a town timeline showing you what was going on at the time. Here are some samples from my own research projects that show how understanding local history can help: During the Eighty Years' War, the Dutch Republic recruited regiments from all over Europe to help fight the … [Read more...]

Dutch term – Handelaar

A handelaar was a trader. Handelaren could mostly be found in cities, not villages, and were often quite well-to-do. Sometimes, specific words were used to show what people were trading in: a graanhandelaar traded in grain, a fietsenhandelaar traded in bicycles, and a handelaar in koloniale waren traded in colonial goods. You can also use … [Read more...]

Free Alternatives to WieWasWie

WieWasWie, the largest genealogical database in the Netherlands, introduced a paid subscription earlier this year. Here are some free alternatives. 1: Use the free version of WieWasWie You can try to make do with the free version of WieWasWie. All of the information is still available for free, but the search options are pretty … [Read more...]

Quick tip – What Organizations Was Your Ancestor Involved in?

In the 1800s and 1900s, there were many organizations for every aspect of a person's life. Here are some examples I encountered in my research projects: Honorary member of the Society for the Promotion of the Musical Arts. Chairman of a local  branch of the Anti-Revolutionaire Partij [Anti Revolutionary Party], a Christian … [Read more...]