Five reasons why it’s awesome to have Dutch ancestors

plate with cookies

Do you have Dutch ancestors? Congratulations! Here are five things that are awesome about having Dutch ancestors. 1. Dutch records are excellent Since 1850, the government did not just keep census records, they kept them up to date so they always know who's living where. These are called population registers. Civil registration of birth, … [Read more...]

Quick tip – Free Dutch language course

children sitting in a classroom with a female teacher in front

Have you always wanted to learn Dutch? The University of Groningen is teaching a free online course that will teach you the basics of the language in three weeks. The next course starts 1 June 2015. Read more information about the Dutch language course on the Future Learn website. … [Read more...]

Review – Atlas De Wit: City Atlas of the Low Countries

Groenlo

Last year, I won a wonderful facsimile atlas in a contest by the Royal Library. I love maps and am a founding member of the study group for the history of cartography in my home town. When I saw that the Royal Library was giving away a copy of this atlas for the best tip on how to get the most out of their newspaper website Delpher, I did my best … [Read more...]

Quick tip – Search for common OCR errors

Text mistakenly indexed as 'Harnerstein'

As genealogists, we often search pictures of texts, for example when we use newspaper websites like Delpher. Often, automatic character recognition techniques (OCR) have been used to convert the images to searchable text. These techniques aren't perfect, especially with poor quality ink, old fonts or digitized microfilms. The mistakes that OCR … [Read more...]

Quick tip – Not many records on passengers passing through Rotterdam

harbor

If you've been watching Who Do You Think You Are? in the US, you may have noticed that both Josh Groban and Angie Harmon had ancestors who left Europe via Rotterdam. Rotterdam has been one of the most important harbors in the world for centuries. Since the 17th century, it has been the final port of departure for millions of emigrants. These people … [Read more...]

April Fool’s Day in the Netherlands

Bike

April Fool's Day is celebrated in the Netherlands. The first recorded April Fool's joke in Dutch dates to about 1560, when a poem mentioned how a servant recognized a prank that his master was trying to pull on him.1 The best April Fool's joke that I've seen up close was when I was studying at the University of Twente. The nearby Grolsch brewery … [Read more...]

The illegitimate, doubly baptized, incestuous orphan

St. Martinus Church, Venlo

Sometimes you read records and you wonder how much bad luck one person can handle. While doing research for a client I came across the following baptism in a transcription of the Roman-Catholic baptismal records for Venlo in 1750-1760:1 1751 13 november Anna Elisabetha conditionaliter rebaptizata est filia spuria Andreae Ketels et … [Read more...]

Quick tip – The meaning of terms changed

Old woman reading a newspaper holding a looking glass

Over time, the meaning of terms could change. For example, the term stiefvader [stepfather] now means the husband of your mother. But in past times, the word would be used for any type of father-by-marriage, including the father of the wife (now called schoonvader or father-in-law). To fully understand the meaning of a record, it is important to … [Read more...]

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...]