Quick tip – Did they go to church in Germany?

Street with a house on the left and a church on the right

In the 17th and 18th century, after the Spanish rule ended, the Dutch Reformed church was the State Church. In most provinces, other religions like Roman Catholics were oppressed and forbidden to worship or hold public office. They would sometimes worship in churches that were hidden from view. On the other side of the border, things were … [Read more...]

My great-aunt Hendrickje Stoffels, partner of Rembrandt van Rijn

Sleeping woman

Earlier this week I had the pleasure of going to the Rijksmuseum to visit the Exhibition "Late Rembrandt," featuring the works of the latter part of Rembrandt van Rijn's career. A long-term wish of mine came true: I stood eye-to-eye with paintings and portraits of Hendrickje Stoffels, my 11th great aunt. Hendrickje Stoffels, partner … [Read more...]

Quick tip – Watch out for same-named cousins

Group of cousins, all grandchildren of Cornelis Trouw and Maria Gommeren

Because Dutch children were often named after their grandparents, it is not unusual to find several first cousins with the same name, all named after the same grandparent. Often, these same-named cousins will be of a similar age, which can make it easy to confuse the two (or three, or even more!). When you are trying to identify someone, always … [Read more...]

Quick tip – No middle names

Photograph of two young girls

People in the Netherlands did not have 'middle' names. They could have one or more first names, followed by their last name. But even if they had two first names, they would be considered two first names and not a first and a middle name. Before say 1700, most people had just one first name. Afterwards, giving a child multiple first names became … [Read more...]

Ask Yvette – Do I have a family crest?

book with crest and hanging seal

Several people have contacted me wanting to know if they have a family crest. Five things to know about crests Most people did not have family crests. Most people who used family crests, were well-to-do. Often they were nobles, rich merchants (patricians) or administrators. If your ancestor was a poor farmer, chances are that he did not have a … [Read more...]

Quick tip – Use Street View to ‘visit’ your ancestor’s home town

Farm

Google Street View has been all over the Netherlands, so you can use this service to make a virtual visit to your ancestor's home town. To use Google Street View, look up the address or name of the town in Google Maps and then click "Street view" or drag the yellow man unto the map. … [Read more...]

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...]