The Josh Groban episode – the Dutch part

destroyed city with one church still standing

A couple of months ago, I was asked by the producers of the US version of Who Do You Think You Are? to help with the final leg of Josh Groban's journey to uncover the story of his ancestor Johann Jacob Zimmermann. They had found out in Germany that Zimmermann came to Rotterdam, the Netherlands, on his way to Pennsylvania, and died around the time … [Read more...]

Column – The right to be forgotten

maid scrubbing the pavement

A new European guideline ensures that citizens have the right to be forgotten. They can ask search engines to remove results that are no longer relevant. That will prevent your drunk selfie from appearing on the first page of search results the next time a potential employer searches for your name. The guideline is primarily aimed at search … [Read more...]

Quick tip – Check the margins of a record

Birth record with note in the margin

If you consult an original record, make sure to check the margins for any notes. For example, the margins of a birth record may tell you that an illegitimate child was later acknowledged by a man who married the mother. The margins may also contain corrections of the main text, for example if an error was made. These corrections can be made … [Read more...]

Ask Yvette – Are there any records of people who helped Jews in World War II?

Westerbork monument, the place from where most Jews were transported to the camps in Eastern Europe. Credits:

Earlier this week, Kirk Payne wrote the following comment: I have a request that might stump you. My wife’s immediate ancestors immigrated to the US in the early 20th Century. Most of her great- and great-great Aunts and Uncles remained in the Netherlands. She had a cousin ask us if we’d seen any records showing her relatives having helped the … [Read more...]

Quick tip – Population registers are like movies

Population register of Carolus Demessemaecker

Population registers can be difficult to understand, because one page can have information about people at different times.  This can be especially confusing for people who are used to dealing with census records. Here's an analogy that might help you: Census records are like snapshots, population registers are like movies. Population … [Read more...]

Source – Prison Records

Dome prison in Breda

Ironically, it's often the black sheep that bring the most color to our family trees. I love researching all the stories in my family, and prison records are a wonderful resource. History Before the French occupation (1795-1813), people were rarely imprisoned. Instead, criminals were hanged, banished, put in the pillory or sent to the work house. … [Read more...]

Quick tip – Check your photos. Again.

Marriage of Henk Hoitink and Mien Woordes, 1942

Last week, I wrote a post about What spouses promised each other, in which I used a photograph of my grandparents' wedding. When browsing my Facebook feed, the story came up and I looked at the photo just like I would at any other photo. And there he was. My great-great-grandfather. Next to my grandfather sits his mother. Then, an empty … [Read more...]

What spouses promised each other

Marriage of Henk Hoitink and Mien Woordes, 1942

If you have ever read all of the text of an early civil registration marriage record, you may have read how the groom and the bride promised to fulfill the duties of a husband and wife towards each other as specified in Title 5, Chapter 6 of the Civil Code. So what does that actually mean? Here is what the law of 1823 says about that. Of the … [Read more...]

Quick tip – Not many Dutch DNA cousins

DNA spiral

When you take a DNA-test for genealogical purposes, don't be surprised if you don't find many Dutch matches. Because DNA testing isn't very popular in the Netherlands, there will be few Dutch people in the databases. So not finding many Dutch matches doesn't mean that your paper trail that shows a Dutch ancestor is wrong. Why DNA testing isn't … [Read more...]

What is your earliest Dutch family photograph?

Hendrik Hoitink and Johanna Piek

In the Netherlands, photography took off much later than in countries like the US or the UK. As a result, many of us only have family photographs going back to the early 1900s. So I was wondering, what is your earliest photograph? Please leave a link in the comments or post the image to the comments on this article on … [Read more...]