Fighting in church

Aalten church. Photo: Yvette Hoitink

It is rare to find sources that show us the how our ancestors behaved in their every-day lives. Church council minutes can sometimes give us a glimpse. The church council minutes of Aalten are a good example. Church seats In Dutch Reformed Churches, most members had their own seats in the church. They would have benches built at their own … [Read more...]

Quick tip: Endogamy did not start after immigration

Bride and groom

People whose ancestors live in small Dutch immigrant settlements have probably noticed that many of them were distant cousins. The size of these communities limited the pool of potential spouses. Endogamy (marrying within the community, also known as 'kissing cousins') is not unusual. What most people don't realize, is that many of these … [Read more...]

Becoming a full-time genealogist

Diving

For the past several years, I have combined a job as project manager at the National Archives in The Hague with being a freelance genealogist. There are only a few genealogists in the Netherlands who report in English and there are many people of Dutch descent who don't speak Dutch. As you can imagine, the demand for my services has been much … [Read more...]

News from the Netherlands – July 2014

The orphanage at Batavia

‘News from the Netherlands’ is a monthly series to inform you about the best new websites, projects and books that help you find and understand your Dutch ancestors. Archives news The Zeeuws Archief, the Zeeland archives, have started a scanning-on-demand service. Visitors can queue records for digitization, which will be added to the Zeeuws … [Read more...]

Quick tip: addresses are a modern invention

K 3, now Badweg 8, in Winterswijk, 1992

Addresses that consist of a street name and a number are a relatively modern invention. Until the 19th century, many houses in the Netherlands did not have addresses but only street names, and often unofficial ones at that. You may encounter descriptions like "the house at the end of the Lily Canal, where the Boars hangs out," followed by a list of … [Read more...]

Column: One tree

People climbing trees for a better view

Familysearch allows you to collaborate on an integrated family tree that joins everyone, like a Wikipedia for deceased persons. The idea is that genealogists can reach consensus about people: about the dates and places of events, but more importantly about relationships between people. Users can cite or upload sources to support their … [Read more...]

Quick tip: names change

Military recruits showing name signs

"The past is a foreign country, they did things differently there."1 One of the fundamental differences is the way that people were named. In many parts of the Netherlands, people did not have a hereditary surname until 1811. But even after 1811, names could get changed, for instance if someone emigrated or if the clerk made an error. The next … [Read more...]

Negroes for New Netherland

Fortress of Elmina, coast of Guinea

While searching the notarial archives at the Amsterdam City Archives, I came across a record that tells how Dutch merchants took African slaves from Guinea and shipped them to the New World, trading some in the West Indies and taking the rest to New Netherland. As it is rare to find accounts of voyages of slave vessels, I thought I would share this … [Read more...]

Quick tip: The first of same-named siblings probably died young

Etten-Leur, population register 1860-1869, household of Martinus Trouw.

If you see multiple siblings with the same name, the first one probably died before the next one was born. Dutch parents typically named their children after relatives. By giving the new child the name of the deceased sibling, both the deceased sibling and the relative that that sibling had been named after were commemorated. There is one … [Read more...]

Quick tip: Finding 20th century people

Personal index card

Finding people who lived in the 20th century can be difficult because of Dutch privacy laws. One of the best sources for 20th century information are the personal record cards, which are available for all Dutch residents who died in the Netherlands after 1938. They provide information about that person's dates and places of birth, marriage and … [Read more...]