Column – Thought process

People lying sandbags near a river

Shortly after I started doing genealogy, a fellow researcher urged me to always document my sources. "You think now that you will remember where you've found everything, but there comes a time that you will have gathered so much that you won't remember the source." Wise words that I took to heart and that have proved to be invaluable. … [Read more...]

Quick tip: Mind your immigrant ancestor’s neighbors

Log cabin

When you're trying to find the place of origin of your Dutch immigrant ancestor, be sure to check his neighbors too. Did any of them come from the Netherlands? On websites that allow you to search census records, like Ancestry.com or Ancestry.co.uk, you can often search for all people born in the Netherlands who lived in a certain place, … [Read more...]

Tribute to Henk Hoitink (1914-2000)

Engagement picture

A hundred years ago today, a boy was born in Winterswijk, Gelderland. His parents, Gerrit Jan Hoitink and Willemina Berendina van Nijkerken, had just been married the year before. They named their son Hendrik, after Gerrit Jan's father, as was the local tradition. Informally, they called him Henk. Henk Hoitink was my grandfather. Henk … [Read more...]

Quick tip: find the origin of your name in name taking records

Name taking record of Jelmer Sipkes Sipma

If your family is from the northern provinces, or Jewish, you may find them in name taking records. When the civil registration was introduced, people who did not have a last name yet were required to record their last name. In such cases, the name taking record is often the earliest record you will find for your name. Sometimes, clues about the … [Read more...]

Review: Dutch Roots by Rob van Drie

Dutch Roots cover

Dutch Roots: Finding your ancestors in the Netherlands is a book written by one of the best-known genealogy educators in the Netherlands, Rob van Drie. Rob's experience shows in this 190-page book, that contains a comprehensive overview of the most important sources for genealogical research in the Netherlands. It is the first book about Dutch … [Read more...]

Quick tip: there is no letter y in the Dutch alphabet

boy looking at paper of boy sitting next to him

The Dutch alphabet has a letter ij, not a y. Dutch names with a ij typically get spelled with a y in English, for example Dijkstra/Dykstra, Wijnveen/Wynveen. Next time you're having problems finding a person in a Dutch search engine, check that you've used the Dutch spelling. … [Read more...]

Three Things I Learned About DNA at WDYTYA Live

View of the floor

Last week, during Who Do You Think You Are? Live! in London, I attended a DNA workshop about Autosomal DNA. Autosomal DNA is the DNA on your non-sex chromomes (22 pairs). I have done autosomal testing with FamilyTreeDNA and 23andme and am always looking for information that helps me to interpret the results. Here are three things that I … [Read more...]

Quick tip: Try to find evidence to disprove your case

Two old cars after a collision

When proving a theory, we look for evidence that supports it. But as diligent researchers, we should look just as hard for evidence that disproves our theory. In fact, searching for evidence that does not fit with our preconceptions can be far more informative than searching for supporting evidence, as demonstrated in this short video. … [Read more...]

Ask the expert

Overview of the exhibition

I am currently in London, to attend Who Do You Think You Are Live, the biggest genealogy event in the world. People were already queueing to get in about an hour before the show opened. Once inside, they could listen to lectures, visit one of the dozens of stands or have their DNA sampled to be analyzed. Last year, one of the parts of the … [Read more...]

Quick tip: Are your records independent?

Marriage booklet of Cornelis Flooren and Catharina van der Zanden (p. 1)

The next time you find a birth, marriage and death record that all agree about the name of the person and his date of birth or age, ask yourself: are these documents independent? An extract of the birth record would have been submitted in order to get married. The details from the marriage record may have been copied into the marriage booklet, … [Read more...]