Quick tip – Don’t count on obituaries for common people

Hendrik Jan Kastein death announcement

In the Netherlands, there has never been a tradition for writing obituaries for common people. After a person died, richer families posted a an announcement in the newspaper, but that usually did not contain much biographical information either. For most people, there would not have been any announcement in the paper. Read more about finding … [Read more...]

Quick tip – Did they go to church in Germany?

Street with a house on the left and a church on the right

In the 17th and 18th century, after the Spanish rule ended, the Dutch Reformed church was the State Church. In most provinces, other religions like Roman Catholics were oppressed and forbidden to worship or hold public office. They would sometimes worship in churches that were hidden from view. On the other side of the border, things were … [Read more...]

Quick tip – Watch out for same-named cousins

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

Because Dutch children were often named after their grandparents, it is not unusual to find several first cousins with the same name, all named after the same grandparent. Often, these same-named cousins will be of a similar age, which can make it easy to confuse the two (or three, or even more!). When you are trying to identify someone, always … [Read more...]

Quick tip – No middle names

Photograph of two young girls

People in the Netherlands did not have 'middle' names. They could have one or more first names, followed by their last name. But even if they had two first names, they would be considered two first names and not a first and a middle name. Before say 1700, most people had just one first name. Afterwards, giving a child multiple first names became … [Read more...]

Quick tip – Use Street View to ‘visit’ your ancestor’s home town

Farm

Google Street View has been all over the Netherlands, so you can use this service to make a virtual visit to your ancestor's home town. To use Google Street View, look up the address or name of the town in Google Maps and then click "Street view" or drag the yellow man unto the map. … [Read more...]

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...]