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.

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...]

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...]

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...]

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...]

Quick tip – Don’t Assume Your Ancestors Were Like You

(feel free to share!) … [Read more...]

What Dutch DNA looks like

There's a meme going around on Facebook, started by J Paul Hawthorne, where people share their pedigree chart that shows the ethnicities rather than the names. In this article I am going to compare my ethnicity based on my paper trail to the ethnicity predictions by the DNA companies. Ethnicity pedigree chart Here is my pedigree chart, … [Read more...]

Quick tip – Search Dutch Newspapers at Delpher

The Koninklijk Bibliotheek, the Royal Library of the Netherlands, is making Dutch newspapers, books and magazines availble for free at Delpher. Delpher has the following sections: Boeken basis [basic books] Boeken Google [Google books], books scanned in collaboration with Google Kranten [newspapers] Tijdschriften … [Read more...]