Quick tip: surnames database

Spread of the name Hoitink in 2007

The Meertens Instituut (Institute) has a database of surnames in the Netherlands where you can search for a name to get a map that shows where people by that name lived in 1947 and 2007. This can be a great way to find out where in the Netherlands your ancestors may have come from, as many names are specific to a certain area. The example shows … [Read more...]

Column: Farewell

Grave of Gerrit Jan Droppers (1845-1925)

After twenty years, it is time to say goodbye. I have struggled in vain but it will not do. I have decided to say farewell to my old genealogy program. Twenty years: it feels like forever in this digital age where three-year-old software feels outdated. My old program was MS-DOS-based and did not even work with a mouse. To keep it running on new … [Read more...]

Quick tip: Always check all versions of a marriage record

Town Hall, Geertruidenberg

In the days before the introduction of the civil registration in 1811 (or slightly earlier in Limburg and Zeeuws-Vlaanderen), the only legally recognized marriages were those performed before the court or by the Dutch Reformed church. Roman-Catholic couples usually married in the Roman-Catholic church as well. Be sure to always check both types of … [Read more...]

Quick tip: know the witnesses

Baptism in Flanders, 18th century

Understanding who the witnesses in records were can help you find your ancestors. Baptism witnesses were usually chosen from the immediate family, often from siblings of the parents. Witnesses or informants for death records, on the other hand, were often neighbors. Knowing these customs can help you understand who these people were and how they … [Read more...]

Ask Yvette: English version of WieWasWie?

WieWasWie logo

Many people have asked me if there is an English version of WieWasWie, the website with the largest index of genealogical records in the Netherlands. WieWasWie is a joint project in which many different archives participate. Volunteers enter the information. In some cases, scans are also available. The website is the successor of the very popular … [Read more...]

Quick tip: royal dispensations

Picture of two couples

Until 1939, it was forbidden to marry your sister-in-law or brother-in-law. Royal dispensation was required for such a marriage. Many widowed men who wanted to marry their deceased wife's sister applied for a dispensation. They were routinely granted, as in the case of my great-grandparents. Extracts of the royal dispensations can be found in the … [Read more...]

Ask Yvette: how to find my grandparents’ birth records

Birth record of Antonie de Wijze, Middelburg 2 March 1886

In response to an article about different types of archives, Larry Joosse wrote: Looking for birth records for Anthonie de Wijze born March 2, 1886 in Zand, and Catharina Johanna vanKeulen born on July 16, 1888. they are my mother’s parents. I thought I would respond in the form of a blog post and show you all the different steps that I take to … [Read more...]

Quick tip: Find out what your ancestor looked like

certificate including physical description

In the marriage supplements, the documents that a bride and groom had to submit when they got married, you will usually encounter a certificate stating that the groom had fulfilled his military duties. About half the time, this form will include a physical description. See elsewhere on this site for a list of terms with their translations. The … [Read more...]

Column: Citizen archivist

Rectified sea chart of the Canal

Citizen archivists is a term coined by David S. Ferriero, the Archivist of the United States, to call a new breed of users of archives. Visitors who not only come to take information, but bring it as well. Visitors who help to create access to archives by contributing in the form of comments, transcripts or tags. The benefits to the archives are … [Read more...]

Quick tip: maiden names after marriage

Wedding photo

In the Netherlands, official records usually refer to women by their maiden names, even after their marriage. So when you're looking for a death record of a female ancestor, look for her maiden name rather than her married name. … [Read more...]