Dutch term – Kaart


A kaart is a map or a card. In the 17th century, Amsterdam was the map making capital of the world so there are some gorgeous maps waiting for you to see where your ancestors lived. For example, check the Blaeu Atlas at the Erfgoed Leiden website or read about the the facsimile edition of the City Atlas of Frederik de Wit. … [Read more...]

Dutch term – Fiets

Brush salesman on bike

As the Tour de France starts in the Netherlands this week, this is a good time to learn the meaning of a quintessentially Dutch word: fiets (bicycle). Introduction of bikes Fietsen were introduced in the Netherlands in the last part of the 19th century. They were quickly adopted and became the most popular mode of transportation. Fietsen were not … [Read more...]

Dutch term – Gevangenis

Dome prison in Breda

A gevangenis is a prison. The modern prison system was introduced in 1811. Many people went to jail, often for petty crimes. Prison records can tell you if any of your ancestors ever went to jail. Read more about prison records. … [Read more...]

Dutch term – Wasvrouw

Laundress, by Gesina ter Borch, about 1652.

A wasvrouw was a laundress. It was an occupation for poor women, who were usually single or widowed. … [Read more...]

Dutch term – Meerderjarig

couple appearing in court

Meerderjarig means 'of age,' having reached the age of majority. What the age of majority was, depends on the time and¬†place.¬†Youngsters could also be declared to be of age by the court, usually with consent of the parents or guardians. Age of majority in the Netherlands Period Age of majority Before 1811 Depends on the region, … [Read more...]

Dutch term – Gewaarmerkte kopie

Certified copy of death record of Catharina Flooren

A gewaarmerkte kopie is a certified copy. When ordering a record, like your own birth record, you may be asked if you want a regular copy or a certified copy. Certified copies will be printed on special paper and will have a seal by the municipality guaranteeing authenticity. For genealogical purposes, a regular photocopy will suffice. In fact, … [Read more...]

Dutch term – Begrafenis

Funeral of five firemen

A begrafenis is a burial. Before 1811, the church records of burials are often the best source for the burial date. Some registers include the death date as well. After 1811, death records of the civil registration show when a person died, but they do not contain information about the burial. That information can sometimes be found in family … [Read more...]

Dutch term – Voogd

Girls sitting around a table doing needlework

A voogd is a guardian. Before 1811, guardians were usually appointed by the Weeskamer (orphan chamber). After 1811, they were appointed by the court. You can find guardianship appointments in the court records. … [Read more...]

Dutch term – Huwelijksbijlagen

Man in uniform signing a document

The huwelijksbijlagen or huwelijkse bijlagen are the marriage supplements: the documents that a bride and groom had to submit to prove their identity and eligibility to get married. See the article Marriage supplements: gateway to more information about your ancestors for more information about these records and how to use them for your own … [Read more...]

Dutch term – Brief


A brief is a letter. Brieven are a great source of information. Personal letters written by emigrants to their family back home can give you a great idea of what their pioneering life was like. I've also found valuable information in official correspondence, for example in the correspondence of the municipality where my ancestor lived. In … [Read more...]