Quick tip – Find graves on photos of churches

cemetery of the Dutch Reformed Church in Castricum

The website of the Rijksdienst voor Cultureel Erfgoed [Cultural Heritage Service] has many photos of churches, often going back to the early to mid 20th century. Some of these photos feature cemeteries. The quality of the photos and scans is often high enough to read the text on the markers. Earlier this year, I found a 1950s photo of a church … [Read more...]

Quick tip – How to find Dutch genealogy records online

Digital Resources Netherlands and Belgium (screenshot)

The website Digital Resources Netherlands and Belgium offers links to websites that publish archival records, whether in the form of scans, indexes or transcripts. The links are organized per province. Click the link 'Internet' under the name to see what sources are available online. They also offer links to passenger lists and image collections, … [Read more...]

Quick tip – Check marriage records of siblings

Young couple, the woman holds a bouquet of arums in her hand

When looking for more information about your ancestor, be sure to check the records of the siblings. Marriage records of the siblings can be very informative. There are two situations when checking marriage records of siblings is especially helpful: If your ancestor married just before the introduction of the civil registration and their … [Read more...]

Quick tip – Check for logical migration patterns

Departure of four couples to Canada

If you find a source that shows that your family originally came from elsewhere, check that the migration path they followed is logical. A few things to watch out for: People usually went from rural areas to urban areas. It's rare to find people moving from an urban area to a rural area, or from one rural area to another rural area. Before … [Read more...]

Quick tip – Adultery may not have been the real ground for divorce

The neglected wife encourages her husband to sort himself out

Until 1971, adultery was one of the few grounds that the law recognized to grant a divorce. Many people who found themselves incompatible lied about having an affair to be able to get a divorce. So if your ancestors were divorced and you find 'overspel' [adultery] listed as the ground in the divorce proceedings, it may not have been the truth. The … [Read more...]

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


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...]