Column – The Gap

Archives have the legal task to keep records in good, orderly and accessible condition. But what the Archiefwet [Archive Law] considers accessible does not always match users' expectations. In the most basic form of access, users can consult the records in the reading room. An increasing number of records can also be found online by clicking … [Read more...]

Column – The future of Genealogy

This year, I am celebrating my twenty-fifth anniversary as a genealogist. During this time, we saw the change from paper to digital. Will we see as many changes in the next twenty-five years? Here are my predictions for genealogy in 2041. In the future, it will not be possible to visit an archive in person anymore. The most popular sources are … [Read more...]

Column: Receipt

The receipt of the Teeven deal had been preserved: we could reconstruct how much money had been paid; even fifteen years after the fact. The drama that followed demonstrated that archiving is more than just preserving things well; it is also a matter of being able to find information again.* In the Netherlands, the national government has a … [Read more...]

Column – Reuse

Since 18 July 2015, the Netherlands has a law to regulate the reuse of government information. The law is intended to give an impulse to the economy if government information is used as fuel for new products and services. The law requires archives to cooperate in the reuse of government information. They can only charge the marginal costs for … [Read more...]

Column – Everything online?

About twenty years ago, I gave a lecture about internet genealogy. Internet was in its infancy. I could answer the question "Do you think archives will ever put everything online?" with a negative. The hundreds of miles of archives would be too extensive to digitize. I also figured that repositories would be hesitant to give up their monopoly … [Read more...]

Column – Safe?

"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...]

Column – The right to be forgotten

A new European guideline ensures that citizens have the right to be forgotten. They can ask search engines to remove results that are no longer relevant. That will prevent your drunk selfie from appearing on the first page of search results the next time a potential employer searches for your name. The guideline is primarily aimed at search … [Read more...]

Column – DNA tools

Two years ago, I took my first genealogical DNA-test. Thankfully, the results weren't too surprising, but definitely interesting. Grandpa, who was born three months after his parents' marriage, was indeed the son of his father because I share DNA with multiple relatives on that side. My friend Mary, whom I knew to be related on my father's side, … [Read more...]

Column – portals

Portals are websites that provide a single point of access to content of different suppliers. Often, search results in a portal will lead you to the pages of the participating organizations but often you don't even realize that the data is aggregated from different sources behind the scenes. In the world of archives, portals are pretty popular. … [Read more...]

Column: One tree

Familysearch allows you to collaborate on an integrated family tree that joins everyone, like a Wikipedia for deceased persons. The idea is that genealogists can reach consensus about people: about the dates and places of events, but more importantly about relationships between people. Users can cite or upload sources to support their … [Read more...]