About this website

Creating a website like this is a fun activity. There are so many options, so many choices. What do visitors want? What do I want? In this blog I will describe some of the things I encounter in developing and maintaining this website.

How I use DNA for my one-place-study

Cemetery in Winterswijk

My father's family is from a small village in the Netherlands called Winterswijk. All 2,000+ ancestors of his that I've been able to trace so far were from Winterswijk or the immediate surroundings. People first started living in that area in the early Middle Ages and I would not be surprised to find out that most of my paternal ancestors descend … [Read more...]

Quick tip – Adultery may not have been the real ground for divorce

The neglected wife encourages her husband to sort himself out

Until 1971, adultery was one of the few grounds that the law recognized to grant a divorce. Many people who found themselves incompatible lied about having an affair to be able to get a divorce. So if your ancestors were divorced and you find 'overspel' [adultery] listed as the ground in the divorce proceedings, it may not have been the truth. The … [Read more...]

Ask Yvette: What happened to Genlias?

Genlias

Between 1995 and 2012, many archives in the Netherlands published indexes of birth, marriage and death records on Genlias (www.genlias.nl). Genlias was taken offline in 2013 and replaced by WieWasWie. Genlias was the most popular genealogy site in the country, and many people used it for their research. Ancestry.com still links to Genlias, even … [Read more...]

Quick tip – Don’t count on obituaries for common people

Hendrik Jan Kastein death announcement

In the Netherlands, there has never been a tradition for writing obituaries for common people. After a person died, richer families posted a an announcement in the newspaper, but that usually did not contain much biographical information either. For most people, there would not have been any announcement in the paper. Read more about finding … [Read more...]

How to find your ancestors from Reusel-De Mierden

photo of a church

As I explained in a previous blog post, an error in genealogy software changed "Holland" to "Reusel-De Mierden, Noord-Brabant, Netherlands" in many trees. Still, many people, are convinced that their ancestors are really from Reusel-De Mierden. The only way to be sure is to go back to the sources. The municipality of Reusel-De Mierden Reusel-De … [Read more...]

Quick tip – Did they go to church in Germany?

Street with a house on the left and a church on the right

In the 17th and 18th century, after the Spanish rule ended, the Dutch Reformed church was the State Church. In most provinces, other religions like Roman Catholics were oppressed and forbidden to worship or hold public office. They would sometimes worship in churches that were hidden from view. On the other side of the border, things were … [Read more...]

My great-aunt Hendrickje Stoffels, partner of Rembrandt van Rijn

Sleeping woman

Earlier this week I had the pleasure of going to the Rijksmuseum to visit the Exhibition "Late Rembrandt," featuring the works of the latter part of Rembrandt van Rijn's career. A long-term wish of mine came true: I stood eye-to-eye with paintings and portraits of Hendrickje Stoffels, my 11th great aunt. Hendrickje Stoffels, partner … [Read more...]

Quick tip – Watch out for same-named cousins

Group of cousins, all grandchildren of Cornelis Trouw and Maria Gommeren

Because Dutch children were often named after their grandparents, it is not unusual to find several first cousins with the same name, all named after the same grandparent. Often, these same-named cousins will be of a similar age, which can make it easy to confuse the two (or three, or even more!). When you are trying to identify someone, always … [Read more...]

Quick tip – No middle names

Photograph of two young girls

People in the Netherlands did not have 'middle' names. They could have one or more first names, followed by their last name. But even if they had two first names, they would be considered two first names and not a first and a middle name. Before say 1700, most people had just one first name. Afterwards, giving a child multiple first names became … [Read more...]

Ask Yvette – Do I have a family crest?

book with crest and hanging seal

Several people have contacted me wanting to know if they have a family crest. Five things to know about crests Most people did not have family crests. Most people who used family crests, were well-to-do. Often they were nobles, rich merchants (patricians) or administrators. If your ancestor was a poor farmer, chances are that he did not have a … [Read more...]