Quick tip – Visit the virtual Jewish monument

Auschwitz main gate with the text 'Arbeit macht frei'

Today we commemorate that Camp Auschwitz was liberated 70 years ago. I visited the camp with my class in high school and it made a lasting impression on me. We saw rooms packed with children's shoes, toothbrushes, toys, and then read that it was just 1% of the total number that had been collected. Each one representing a tragic story. The … [Read more...]

New website: Alle Drenten

Alle Drenten screenshot

A new website launched this week: Alle Drenten (all people from Drenthe). Drenthe is a province in the north-east of the country. Many people from other regions lived there too, as it was home to the pauper colonies where beggars, vagrants and prisoners were sent to. The new website is the successor of DrenLias. It contains all the indexes that … [Read more...]

Quick tip – Most people did not own real estate

Meerdink farm

Historically, most people in the Netherlands did not own real estate. Most farmers were tenant farmers, often living on the same farm for generations. Others were seasonal laborers who moved from farm to farm every year. It is rare to find tenancy contracts or rental agreements as these things were usually arranged between the owner and the tenant … [Read more...]

11 things to know if you plan a trip to the Netherlands

Men eating herring by holding a tail

Are you planning a trip to the Netherlands in the new year? Here are some things you need to know if you've never been to the Netherlands before. 1. Most churches are still there Most churches are still standing, whether they are from the medieval period or later. Not all of them will be open to the public. Some churches are only open on a … [Read more...]

Quick tip – research the collateral lines

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

Most people are more interested in ancestors than their siblings, but records of the siblings can contain vital clues. For example, death duties files (memories van successie) of siblings who died without children can show that nieces and nephews or more distant relatives inherited. The death duties files can reveal complex family relationships, … [Read more...]

Column – DNA tools

DNA spiral

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...]

Quick tip – Records that just became public

Library reading room

To protect the privacy of living people and the security of our nation, access to many records is restricted for a number of years; typically 25, 50, 75 or 100 years. Every year, new records become public for the first time. As of 1 January 2015, the following records became public: Birth records from 1914 Marriage records from … [Read more...]

New Year’s irons in the East of the Netherlands

Jannink Kuitenbrouwer waffle iron

Happy New Year everybody! How are you celebrating? In the eastern part of the Netherlands, in the provinces of Groningen, Drenthe, Overijssel and Gelderland, there is a tradition of baking New Year's waffles on New Year's Day. Traditionally, these waffles were made using large irons which were put in the hearth. In 1999, my mother co-authored a … [Read more...]

Quick tip – TEDx talk about New Netherland history

View of New Amsterdam

Charles Gehring, the lead researcher at the New Netherland Institute, gave an enlightening presetation at TEDx about New Netherland, the best-kept secret in American History, which is now available on YouTube. Hattip: Limburg Emigrant Page on Facebook. … [Read more...]

Looking back on 2014

Roberta (left) and Cheryl locating the graves of their distant cousins at the Baard Cemetery

2014 has been a wonderful year for me. It's the year my company Dutch Genealogy Services really took off, which allowed me to quit my job and dedicate myself full-time to being a genealogy professional. Here are some of the highlights of my year. Client projects Worked for 35 clients from 12 different countries. Did research in 11 of the … [Read more...]