Quick tip – Do the names of the children match?

In the Netherlands, children were often named after family members. When you have a theory about who the parents were, make sure to check for repetition of names. If the names of the children of your brick wall ancestor do not appear in the family you think he belongs to, you may have the wrong family. Read more about naming traditions. … [Read more...]

Quick tip – No Cousin is Too Distant to Have the Information You Need

When corresponding with cousins about genealogy, we tend to stick to the close ones: first or second cousins, maybe a third cousin, with the occasional once or twice removed. I recently solved a puzzle using a letter shared to me by a fifth cousin twice removed. I was trying to resolve a conflict in death dates. Her grave said a woman died on … [Read more...]

Quick tip – That Frisian female might be male!

If you do research in Friesland, you will notice that the names there are quite different from the rest of the Netherlands. Friesland has its own language, Frisian (Fries) which comes with its own unique set of names. Some Frisian male names look like female names to those of us who are not from Friesland. Some of these names are used as female … [Read more...]

Quick tip – Occupations ran in the family

Occupations often ran in the family. The eldest son usually inherited the father's business, and would step in his father's footsteps. Guilds often had friendly terms for children of members, with reduced fees for apprenticeships and membership. Even younger sons who could not take over their father's business often found similar work. The son of a … [Read more...]

Quick tip – Check the records of neighboring towns

When you're looking for records about your ancestors, don't just limit yourself to the town where he or she lived but also check out the records of the neighboring towns. One of my most amazing finds was a map I found in a German archive, created about a boundary dispute. It showed how my ancestor Tonnis Willinck being shot and killed, around … [Read more...]

Quick tip – New Years’ traditions

Different areas in the Netherlands have different New Years' traditions. Making a lot of noise is pretty universal. I recall my grandfather showing me his too-short finger on New Year's Eve to warn me about the danger of fireworks. It had cost him the tip of his finger so he only had half a nail. Another one of my ancestors was fined for … [Read more...]

Quick tip – Emigrants often used agents

Did you ever wonder how your emigrant ancestors bought their tickets and how they knew where to find a ship to go to America? By the end of the 1840s, many shipping companies had agents in most of the emigration hot spots. Emigrants would be able to purchase tickets form these agents, who would arrange for their travel to the harbor and for the … [Read more...]

Quick tip – Napoleonic army records available online

During the French occupation (1795-1813), many Dutch young men were conscripted into Napoleon's army. The French department of Defense has now made scans of the military records for this period online on the "Mémoire des hommes" [Memory of the men] website. The website contains military records of other French soldiers as well, including those … [Read more...]

Quick tip – Emigrant names were often phonetic equivalents

If you're trying to figure out what the original name of your immigrant ancestor was, don't just focus on official translations, but also figure out what names may have sounded the same. For example, a woman named Jessica in Australia may well have been called Tjitske. A man named Dick (short for Richard) in the United States may well have been … [Read more...]

Quick tip – Share Your Family Stories

Two weeks ago, I shared a story on this site's Facebook page. Here's what I wrote: My grandfather lived in one of the wings of this castle when he served on the staff of Prince Bernhard during the last months of World War II. Apeldoorn was liberated at the end of 1944 and became the headquarters while the resistance and allied forces were planning … [Read more...]