Quick tip – Was he really born there?

Map of Amsterdam

People who move a long way from their small village will often claim a larger city in the area as their place of birth since nobody would have heard of their real place of birth. If you can't find your ancestor in the city where he was supposed to be born, try looking in the villages around there. This is especially true after immigration. Many … [Read more...]

Quick tip – Yvette Hoitink featured on the Forget-Me-Not Hour

View of New Amsterdam

Yvette Hoitink is a guest of Jane E. Wilcox on the Forget-Me-Not-Hour, a radio show in New York that is also broadcast online. The show airs on 3 September at 11 AM New York time (5 PM Netherlands time). During the one-hour show, Yvette talks about finding Dutch colonial ancestors in the Netherlands. She gives tips about using clues in names to … [Read more...]

Quick tip – Catholic? Check for prayer cards

Prayer card of Johanna Buis

Were your ancestors Roman-Catholic? After their death, a prayer card ('bidprentje') may have been created. This card commemorates the deceased and often gives biographical information like the names of the spouse, date and place of birth and death. Read more about using prayer cards for your research … [Read more...]

Quick tip – Dutch Genealogy on Facebook

Facebook logo

There are several Facebook groups and pages for people with Dutch ancestors: Dutch Genealogy Dutch in New Netherlands (New York area) 1609-1674 Genealogy Group Dutch Genealogy in Australia Dutch Genealogy Services The Facebook page for the company behind this website and newsletter. To keep in touch with Dutch culture, I also … [Read more...]

Quick tip: Endogamy did not start after immigration

Bride and groom

People whose ancestors live in small Dutch immigrant settlements have probably noticed that many of them were distant cousins. The size of these communities limited the pool of potential spouses. Endogamy (marrying within the community, also known as 'kissing cousins') is not unusual. What most people don't realize, is that many of these … [Read more...]

Quick tip: addresses are a modern invention

K 3, now Badweg 8, in Winterswijk, 1992

Addresses that consist of a street name and a number are a relatively modern invention. Until the 19th century, many houses in the Netherlands did not have addresses but only street names, and often unofficial ones at that. You may encounter descriptions like "the house at the end of the Lily Canal, where the Boars hangs out," followed by a list of … [Read more...]

Quick tip: names change

Military recruits showing name signs

"The past is a foreign country, they did things differently there."1 One of the fundamental differences is the way that people were named. In many parts of the Netherlands, people did not have a hereditary surname until 1811. But even after 1811, names could get changed, for instance if someone emigrated or if the clerk made an error. The next … [Read more...]

Quick tip: The first of same-named siblings probably died young

Etten-Leur, population register 1860-1869, household of Martinus Trouw.

If you see multiple siblings with the same name, the first one probably died before the next one was born. Dutch parents typically named their children after relatives. By giving the new child the name of the deceased sibling, both the deceased sibling and the relative that that sibling had been named after were commemorated. There is one … [Read more...]

Quick tip: Finding 20th century people

Personal index card

Finding people who lived in the 20th century can be difficult because of Dutch privacy laws. One of the best sources for 20th century information are the personal record cards, which are available for all Dutch residents who died in the Netherlands after 1938. They provide information about that person's dates and places of birth, marriage and … [Read more...]

Quick tip: check Dutch Reformed records for Catholics

church

After the Eighty Year War (1568-1648), only marriages performed in the Dutch Reformed Church or before the Eldermen's court were considered legal. This means that even marriages between two Catholic people can often be found in Dutch Reformed church records. This does not mean they converted or pretended to be Dutch Reformed, they just went there … [Read more...]