Quick tip – Free Dutch language course

children sitting in a classroom with a female teacher in front

Have you always wanted to learn Dutch? The University of Groningen is teaching a free online course that will teach you the basics of the language in three weeks. The next course starts 1 June 2015. Read more information about the Dutch language course on the Future Learn website. … [Read more...]

Quick tip – Search for common OCR errors

Text mistakenly indexed as 'Harnerstein'

As genealogists, we often search pictures of texts, for example when we use newspaper websites like Delpher. Often, automatic character recognition techniques (OCR) have been used to convert the images to searchable text. These techniques aren't perfect, especially with poor quality ink, old fonts or digitized microfilms. The mistakes that OCR … [Read more...]

Quick tip – Not many records on passengers passing through Rotterdam

harbor

If you've been watching Who Do You Think You Are? in the US, you may have noticed that both Josh Groban and Angie Harmon had ancestors who left Europe via Rotterdam. Rotterdam has been one of the most important harbors in the world for centuries. Since the 17th century, it has been the final port of departure for millions of emigrants. These people … [Read more...]

Quick tip – The meaning of terms changed

Old woman reading a newspaper holding a looking glass

Over time, the meaning of terms could change. For example, the term stiefvader [stepfather] now means the husband of your mother. But in past times, the word would be used for any type of father-by-marriage, including the father of the wife (now called schoonvader or father-in-law). To fully understand the meaning of a record, it is important to … [Read more...]

Quick tip – Check the margins of a record

Birth record with note in the margin

If you consult an original record, make sure to check the margins for any notes. For example, the margins of a birth record may tell you that an illegitimate child was later acknowledged by a man who married the mother. The margins may also contain corrections of the main text, for example if an error was made. These corrections can be made … [Read more...]

Quick tip – Population registers are like movies

Population register of Carolus Demessemaecker

Population registers can be difficult to understand, because one page can have information about people at different times.  This can be especially confusing for people who are used to dealing with census records. Here's an analogy that might help you: Census records are like snapshots, population registers are like movies. Population … [Read more...]

Quick tip – Check your photos. Again.

Marriage of Henk Hoitink and Mien Woordes, 1942

Last week, I wrote a post about What spouses promised each other, in which I used a photograph of my grandparents' wedding. When browsing my Facebook feed, the story came up and I looked at the photo just like I would at any other photo. And there he was. My great-great-grandfather. Next to my grandfather sits his mother. Then, an empty … [Read more...]

Quick tip – Not many Dutch DNA cousins

DNA spiral

When you take a DNA-test for genealogical purposes, don't be surprised if you don't find many Dutch matches. Because DNA testing isn't very popular in the Netherlands, there will be few Dutch people in the databases. So not finding many Dutch matches doesn't mean that your paper trail that shows a Dutch ancestor is wrong. Why DNA testing isn't … [Read more...]

Quick tip – Your ancestors may have gotten older than you think

Hendrik Hoitink and Johanna Piek

Many people think that people died a lot younger in earlier centuries. While poor healthcare, contagious diseases, risks of childbirth and dangers at sea certainly took many of our ancestors before their time, several of them lived to be quite old. The main reason that the average lifespan was shorter than today is because of infant mortality. … [Read more...]

Quick tip: Reading Dutch handwriting (video)

Teacher in front of a classroom

Familysearch has three free videos that teach you the basics about reading Dutch handwriting: Reading Dutch Handwritten Records Lesson 1: The Dutch Alphabet Reading Dutch Handwritten Records Lesson 2: Dutch Words and Dates Reading Dutch Handwritten Records Lesson 3: Reading Dutch Records … [Read more...]