Two Tenancy Contracts from the 1700s

Most farmers in the Netherlands were tenants, not owners. This can make it hard to find out where they lived, since we can usually only find deeds for the owners, not the tenants. Since so many of us descend from tenant farmers, I thought I'd share two tenancy contracts with you that I found for my ancestors. It is rare to find such a contract, … [Read more...]

Quick tip – Don’t stop looking after they left

Don't stop looking for your family in a town just because they don't live there anymore. They may still own property there, have business partners there, or may be heirs of people who stayed behind. In notarial records, I often find references to children living abroad, for instance when one of their parents died and their estate needed to be … [Read more...]

Dutch term – Achternicht

An achternicht (literally: behind cousin) is a female relative. The term covers the English terms great-niece, first cousin once removed and second cousin. The male form is achterneef. … [Read more...]

Organization of Archives in the Netherlands

To find records about your ancestors, it is useful to know how archives are organized; even if you're looking for online records. Government archives The most important sources for genealogical research are kept in government archives. Churches were required to hand over their baptismal, marriage and burial registers when the civil registration … [Read more...]

Quick tip – Beware of same-named towns

If you are researching immigrants, beware that immigrants often named towns after their place of origin, so there might be two or more places by that name, perhaps thousands of kilometers apart. When a New Netherland records says "Haerlem," did they mean Harlem in current-day New York or Haarlem in the Netherlands? If your Michigan ancestor was … [Read more...]

Dutch term – Crematie

Crematie is the Dutch word for cremation. In 1874, a group of Dutch people organized a foundation for the introduction of corpse burning in the Netherlands. They lobbied to allow cremation, which was forbidden by law. Their efforts led to the building of the first crematorium in 1913 and the first cremation took place in July 1914. Technically, … [Read more...]

Dispatch from Deuel

In the nineteenth century, there were several Dutch language newspapers in North America. The Dutch were spread all over the Mid-West, looking for opportunities to buy good farm land at a cheap price. These newspapers formed an important link in those migration chains, where people shared news about their colonies and the people who lived in … [Read more...]

Quick tip – That index may not be complete

If you are using a genealogical database such as WieWasWie, beware that the record you are looking for may not be in the index. Either it may not exist (anymore, if ever), or it may not have been indexed yet. Most indexes provide a table of contents that show which records have been included. If you don't find the record you are looking for, … [Read more...]

Dutch term – Inbrengregister

An inbrengregister is an admission register. Inbrengregisters can be found in the archives of institutions where people were housed, like prisons, orphanages or mental institutions. Inbrengregisters will usually give you the following information about an inmate: Name Place and date of birth Reason for admission Date of … [Read more...]

Seven Tips for Writing a Family History

Writing a family history is more than exporting a report from your genealogy program. A family history has hand-crafted sentences that describe the lives of your ancestors. I have written several of these stories, including a Kinship Determination Project for my portfolio for the Board for Certification of Genealogists. Here are seven practical … [Read more...]