Quick tip – Emigrant names were often phonetic equivalents

G de Jong name tag in a window

If you're trying to figure out what the original name of your immigrant ancestor was, don't just focus on official translations, but also figure out what names may have sounded the same. For example, a woman named Jessica in Australia may well have been called Tjitske. A man named Dick (short for Richard) in the United States may well have been … [Read more...]

Dutch term – Horige

farm and shed

A horige is a serf or villain, an un-free farmer who was bound to the land. Serfdom started in the Middle Ages. In most parts of the Netherlands, it was abolished by the 1500s. In some parts, like the eastern parts of Drenthe, Overijssel and Gelderland, a diluted form of serfdom continued until the French occupation of 1795. Rights and duties of … [Read more...]

Sinterklaas Giveaway – Dutch Genealogy Webinar

Banner for the Dutch Genealogy Sinterklaas Giveaway

On 5 December, we will celebrate Sinterklaas, the holiday of Saint Nicholas that inspired Santa Claus in other countries. Sinterklaas has already arrived and children all over the country are setting their shoe by the fireplace (or central heating) with a carrot for the horse of Sinterklaas, hoping that Sinterklaas and his helpers will give them … [Read more...]

Quick tip – Share Your Family Stories

White palace

Two weeks ago, I shared a story on this site's Facebook page. Here's what I wrote: My grandfather lived in one of the wings of this castle when he served on the staff of Prince Bernhard during the last months of World War II. Apeldoorn was liberated at the end of 1944 and became the headquarters while the resistance and allied forces were planning … [Read more...]

Dutch Term – Stamreeks

Fragment of the stamreeks of the house of Orange

A stamreeks is a pedigree that follows just one line of ancestors, usually the male line. In most cases, this will trace the last name. Other variations trace the female line only, or follow the last name even if it is descended from a woman (in the case of an illegitimate child or farm name). A stamreeks can be in a narrative format or in chart … [Read more...]

Stumbling Blocks – Remembering Debora Hedeman and Bertha Zilversmit

two bronze monuments in the pavement

Last month, twenty bronze monuments were installed in my home town of Oldenzaal. They are Stolpersteine, "stumbling blocks," about 10x10 cm (4x4") large bronze stones inscribed with the name of a Jewish resident who was murdered during the Holocaust. They are placed in the pavement in front of the house where they last lived. These Stolpersteine … [Read more...]

Quick tip – Deaths are recorded in the place of residence

Death record of Debora Julia Hedeman, died Sobibor, 9 April 1943. Her death was recorded in Oldenzaal, Overijssel, the Netherlands on 9 December 1949.

If a person died in a different location than where he lived, the civil registration of his place of residence would also record his death. Often, they would receive a copy of the death record that was created in the place of death, and would then record that copy in their own death registers. This was also done after World War II, to record all … [Read more...]

Dutch term – Graf

a coffin covered by flowers is surrounded by a group of mourners in black attire

A graf is a grave. In the Netherlands today, burials take place in special cemeteries, often at the outskirts of towns. Before 1827, most people would have been buried in or around the church. Read how graves are routinely cleared after several decades, and check out these Dutch alternatives to Find a Grave to see if your ancestors' graves … [Read more...]

Signed, Sealed, & Undelivered: Amazing Collection of 17th Century Letters Rediscovered

open wooden chest with letters

The Museum voor Communicatie discovered an amazing treasure in their vaults: a box that belonged to a postmaster in the 17th century, filled with 2600 undelivered letters, 600 of which have never been opened. The letters came to The Hague from France, the Southern Netherlands and Spain. Dr David van der Linden, from the University of Groningen, … [Read more...]

Quick tip – Orphans left records too

Ordinance of the Goes Orphan Chamber

If children were orphaned, guardians were appointed. Before 1811, some regions had special weeskamers (orphan chambers), in other regions these appointments were handled by the court. After 1811, all guardianship appointments were handled by the court. Read more about using guardianship records to learn about your orphaned ancestors. … [Read more...]