Dutch terms – begraafplaats and kerkhof

Cheryl near the Baard cemetery

A begraafplaats or kerkhof is a cemetery. Kerkhof (literally meaning "church yard") is a cemetery around the church, while a begraafplaats (literally: "burial place") is a more generic term. In the Netherlands, graves are routinely cleared after a few decades to make room for new graves. To see what graves still exist, check online cemetery … [Read more...]

Dutch term – Wintermaand

Wintermaand (literally: Winter month) is the old word for December. … [Read more...]

Dutch term – Sinterklaas

Baby in the lap of Saint Nicholas

Sinterklaas is the Dutch name for Saint Nicholas. The American tradition of Santa Claus stems from the Dutch celebrating Sinterklaas. What Sinterklaas and Santa Claus have in common is their love for children and sharing gifts. But it is interesting to compare the differences in the traditions: Sinterklaas Santa Claus Feast … [Read more...]

Dutch term – Vroedvrouw

Newborn baby presented to the father

A vroedvrouw was a midwife. There were also vroedmeesters, doctors specialized in helping women deliver children. The midwife was responsible for more than just seeing the mother and the child safely through the birth. In the case of an unwed mother, she was also urged to press the mother into revealing the name of the father of her child. It … [Read more...]

Quick tip – A couple usually married in the bride’s home town

Henk and Mien on the steps of Winterswijk town hall

Most couples got married in the bride's home town even though they often went to live in the groom's town. So if you can't find a marriage record in the town where the couple lived, try to find out where the wife came from and look for the marriage there. Banns were usually published in both places so you can also try the 'ondertrouw' records. … [Read more...]

Dutch term: Wijk

Map of the Leeuwarden wijk of Arendsklooster, 1843

A wijk is a part of town: a district or neighborhood. Before the introduction of modern addresses, many houses were identified using their Wijk and housenumber only. You will see that your ancestor died in Wijk B number 298, for example. Maps from that period may show you where the Wijken were, but they will rarely show you the location of … [Read more...]

Dutch term – Kwartierverlies

Roerdink family tree

The term kwartierverlies literally means 'loss of quarters,' where 'quarters' refer to a person's ancestors. The usual English translation is 'pedigree collapse.' Kwartierverlies occurs when the parents of a child are related to each other, so the same ancestors occur in multiple places in the child's pedigree chart. An example of pedigree … [Read more...]

Dutch term – Slachtmaand

November. Image credits: Koninklijke Bibliotheek

Slachtmaand literally means "slaughter month" and is the old word for November. … [Read more...]

Dutch term – Landbouwer

Farmer

A landbouwer is a farmer. There are several related terms that you may encounter in the records: Boer (farmer) Boerenknecht (farm hand) Landgebruiker (literally: land user, often a tenant farmer) Landman (farmer) Bouwman (farmer) Akkerbouwer (field farmer) Veehouder (cattle holder) Varkenshouder (pig holder) Graanboer (grain … [Read more...]

Dutch term – Waterschap

Water board charter of 1286

The Waterschap is the water board, the government agency responsible for water management. With half our country below sea level, that is a big responsibility. Just last night, the water boards decided to close the storm surge barriers between the North Sea and the rivers to prevent major flooding. Water boards have been around for a very long … [Read more...]