Quick tip – the meaning of Holland

Map of Holland (the province). Nicolaas Visscher, 1682 (public domain)

If you see "Holland" in a published source, like a book or an online tree, chances are that the person means the country of the Netherlands. If you see "Holland" in a Dutch record prior to 1840, Holland refers to the province by that name, in the west of the Netherlands. In 1840, the province was split into Noord-Holland and Zuid-Holland. As … [Read more...]

Dutch term – Doodgraver


The term doodgraver literally means 'dead digger.' It is the person who digs the graves for the dead. In larger towns, this was a full-time occupation. In small towns, the church sometimes hired poor people to dig the graves, making them work for their allowance. A grave digger was not only supposed to dig the graves but also to collect any … [Read more...]

Source – Staten van Landverhuizers

Departure of an emigrant ship

In the 1840s, when religious tensions were high and crops were failing, many people left the Netherlands to start a new life in America. The national government wanted to know what was going on. Since 1848, they required each province to keep lists of emigrants, the "Staten van Landverhuizers" [tables of emigrants]. Between 1831 and 1847, … [Read more...]

Announcement – The Dutch in America Across the Centuries

Dutch in America Across the Centuries

Are you interested in Dutch immigration to the United States? Are you able to go to Albany, New York next September? If so, you're in luck, because there will be a conference, where researchers studying the New Netherland era and experts on the the 19th century immigration wave will come together to connect and compare information about the … [Read more...]

Dutch term – Schepenbank

Aldermen's hall, Amsterdam, Willem Kok, J. de Jongh, 1793

The schepenbank is the bench of aldermen, or the aldermen's court. The schepenen were the officials who set on the bench. The schepenbank would serve as the magistrate and as a court of law. The term Schepenbank was not used in all regions. Other terms include nedergerecht (Friesland) or vierschaar (Zeeland). Schepenbanken with higher … [Read more...]

Ask Yvette – Am I related to Rembrandt van Rijn?

Titus, by Rembrandt Harmensz. van Rijn. Credits: Wikimedia Commons (Public Domain)

After I wrote about my "great-aunt" Hendrickje Stoffels, the mistress of Rembrandt van Rijn, several people named Van Rijn have asked me if they could be descended from Rembrandt. The short answer? Sorry, no. Here's why. Rembrandt van Rijn had one lawful wife: Saskia van Uylenburgh. They had only one child who survived childhood: Titus van … [Read more...]

Quick tip – The last name may not have come from the father

Father and his children, Pieter de Mare, 1768 - 1795.

In genealogy, we are used to children having the same last name as their father. But there are several circumstances in which the child could have a different name: If the child used a patronymic, in which case the name of the child would be derived from the father's first name, not his last name (e.g. Pier Hessels, son of Hessel Jans). This … [Read more...]

Dutch term – Kaart


A kaart is a map or a card. In the 17th century, Amsterdam was the map making capital of the world so there are some gorgeous maps waiting for you to see where your ancestors lived. For example, check the Blaeu Atlas at the Erfgoed Leiden website or read about the the facsimile edition of the City Atlas of Frederik de Wit. … [Read more...]

Column – Safe?

Protecting property by putting down sandbags.

"My family tree is safe, I use Dropbox." Such cloud solutions, that automatically stores files online, are popular among genealogists. You don't have to remember to make a copy and can access the files from all your computers, tablets and phones. Your files are safe. Are they? Ensuring future accessibility of your files requires two things: the … [Read more...]

Quick tip – Are your translations accurate?

Teacher checking homework.

A client sent me a translated marriage record, identifying a nephew as a witness. She had searched for the nephew but could not find any siblings of the person of interest. When I looked at the original marriage record, the witness was called a neef, a term that is used for both nephew and cousin. As it turned out, the witness was a first cousin … [Read more...]