Dutch term – Haven

A haven is a harbor. The Netherlands had and has some of the largest harbors in the world. They provided work for a range of occupations, both for people working at sea like fishermen and skippers, and for people working in the harbor like merchants, innkeepers and carriers. The harbors of Rotterdam and Amsterdam were also major ports of … [Read more...]

Dutch term – Legitieme portie

The legitieme portie (legitimate portion) is the part of the inheritance that children are legally entitled to. Under Dutch law, at least since the 1800s, children cannot be disowned by their parents completely, even if the parent makes up a will. Their legitimate portion is half of what they would have inherited if there was no will. This is … [Read more...]

Source – Census records

The first nation-wide census of the Netherlands was held in 1795, during the French occupation. The first official Dutch census that recorded every individual was held in 1830 and was held every ten years. In 1850, the population register was introduced to keep the population information up-to-date in between censuses. Initially, the census was … [Read more...]

Dutch term – Broederdienst

Broederdienst literally means "brother service." It was a reason for exemption of military service. If a family had an even number of sons, half of them had to serve. If they had an uneven number of sons, the lesser half had to serve. The brothers who did not have to serve got an exemption for broederdienst. You will often find these exemptions … [Read more...]

Dutch term – Oogst

Oogst is the Dutch word for harvest. During harvest time, most schools in the countryside would be nearly empty because children were kept home from school to help with the harvest. This silent movie from 1939 shows you how traditional harvesting was done. Credits: Harvest time, by Polygoon-Profilti (producer) / Netherlands Institute … [Read more...]

Dutch term – Abdij

An abdij is an abbey. Especially during medieval times, abbeys were important land owners. Many of them owned large estates, farmed by tenants or serfs. In addition, they were often entitled to tithes of several properties, usually a percentage of the proceeds. The archives of these abbeys can sometimes give information about the earliest known … [Read more...]

Dutch term – Hollandse Waterlinie

De Hollandse Waterlinie (Holland Water Defense) was a uniquely Dutch defense system that combined large-scale inundations with strategically placed forts. In times of war, large sections would be inundated to prevent an approaching army from reaching the rich cities of the province of Holland. Some smaller scale inundations had been used in the … [Read more...]

Dutch term – Soldaat

A soldaat is a soldier, the lowest rank in the army. Before the French occupation, the Netherlands only had a professional army. Soldiers were recruited from all over Europe, bringing many Scots, Swiss and other soldiers to the country. Conscription for men between the ages of 20 and 45 was introduced in 1810. It was suspended in 1997, though … [Read more...]

Dutch term – Gemeentehuis

The Gemeentehuis (house of the municipality) or raadhuis (house of the council) is the town hall. In civil registration records, you will often encounter the gemeentehuis as the place where births, marriages and deaths were recorded. Civil marriages often take place at town hall. It also houses the offices of the mayor, municipal council and … [Read more...]

Dutch term – Plakkaat van Verlatinghe

The Plakkaat van Verlatinghe was the act whereby the Estates General of the Netherlands abjured their overlord, King Philip II of Spain, on 26 July 1581. This record is considered to be the birth record of the country of the Netherlands, similar to the Declaration of Independence in the United States. The original is in Spanish hands, as it was … [Read more...]