Dutch term – Schrikkeljaar

A schrikkeljaar is a leap year. Before 1582, the entire region that is now the Netherlands used the Julian calendar, in which every fourth year is a leap year. Between 1582 and 1700, the different provinces switched to the Gregorian calendar, in which centurial years are not leap years except when they are divisible by 400. This corrected the … [Read more...]

Dutch term – Gewicht

Gewicht is the Dutch term for weight. Since 1811, the Netherlands has adopted the metric system of kilograms. Before that, every region had their own weights. The Meertens Institute has a database of old measures and weights that can help to figure out just how much a pound weighed in a certain time and place. … [Read more...]

Dutch term – Archivaris

An archivaris is an archivist. In the Netherlands, archivarissen have a college or university degree in archival science; usually after first completing a related degree in history. Every level of government (municipality, province, nation) is required to transfer their older records to an archive which is headed by an archivist. Smaller … [Read more...]

Dutch term – failliet and faillissement

Failliet means bankrupt; faillissement means bankruptcy. You can often find announcements of bankruptcies in newspapers, and you can then find the corresponding court case in the court records in the provincial archives. These may give you an insight in the business relationships of your ancestor. … [Read more...]

Dutch term – Oudoom and Oudtante

An oudoom is a great-uncle, an oudtante is a great-aunt; siblings of your grandparents. The literal translations are "old uncle" and "old aunt," respectively. … [Read more...]

Dutch term – Dief

A dief is a thief. You may found out that your ancestor was a thief, or the victim of a thief, in newspapers, court records, prison records or police records. … [Read more...]

Dutch term – Wees

A wees is an orphan. Sometimes you will see the term halfwees [half orphan] or volle wees [full orphan] to refer to a child who lost one or both parents, respectively. While the term wees is nowadays used for a child who lost both parents, in earlier times it could be used for a child who lost one parent. You will see references like "Jan, orphan … [Read more...]

Dutch term – Kiesrecht

Kiesrecht means suffrage, the right to vote in political elections. In the Netherlands, the first democratic elections were held in 1795, but only a men owning property over a certain value were allowed to vote. It wasn't until 1917 that the right to vote was granted to all men, and women followed two years later. Voter registration records of … [Read more...]

Dutch term – Drost

A drost or drossaard was a sheriff, someone who governed a region or town on behalf of the landlord. Some drosten required their subjects to provide special services to him, like feed his horse or do chores twice a year. These were sometimes called drostendiensten (sheriff's services). These services were a relict of feudal regulation in the … [Read more...]

Dutch term – Koekoeksgraad

I first heard the word Koekoeksgraad last week and liked it so much that I wanted to share it with you. Koekoeksgraad means "degree of cuckoos," the degree of non-paternity events per generation. I first heard the term in a presentation by forensic DNA expert Maarten Larmuseau, in a Youtube recording of his presentation about using Y-chromosomes … [Read more...]