About this website

Creating a website like this is a fun activity. There are so many options, so many choices. What do visitors want? What do I want? In this blog I will describe some of the things I encounter in developing and maintaining this website.

Quick tip – Emigrants often used agents

Did you ever wonder how your emigrant ancestors bought their tickets and how they knew where to find a ship to go to America? By the end of the 1840s, many shipping companies had agents in most of the emigration hot spots. Emigrants would be able to purchase tickets form these agents, who would arrange for their travel to the harbor and for the … [Read more...]

Case study – Working with farm names

In parts of the provinces of Drenthe, Overijssel and Gelderland, people used to call themselves after the farm they lived on. It wasn't until the introduction of the civil registration in 1811 that their names became fixed. My own name, Hoitink, is an example of such a farm name. Since the name could change every time a person moved, this … [Read more...]

Quick tip – Napoleonic army records available online

During the French occupation (1795-1813), many Dutch young men were conscripted into Napoleon's army. The French department of Defense has now made scans of the military records for this period online on the "Mémoire des hommes" [Memory of the men] website. The website contains military records of other French soldiers as well, including those … [Read more...]

My Attempt to Free Anne Frank’s Diary

This year marked the 70th anniversary of Anne Frank's untimely death. Under Dutch law, works by an author are in the public domain on 1 January following the 70th anniversary of the author's death. This means that Anne Frank's diary should be in the public domain as of 1 January 2016. However, the Anne Frank Fonds claims that her father, Otto … [Read more...]

Sinterklaas Giveaway Winner

The winner of the Sinterklaas giveaway is Victoria Davis from Texas. She will receive the DVD and syllabus of the "Researching your Dutch Ancestors" webinar. Congratulations, Victoria! All of you who did not win can still view the webinar at the Legacy Family Tree Webinars website. If you're not a member of Family Tree Webinars yet, you need to … [Read more...]

WieWasWie Introduces Paid Subscription

The largest genealogy website in the Netherlands, WieWasWie, will introduce a paid subscription starting 1 January 2016 [Update: this has been postponed to 8 February]. The data can still be accessed for free, but some of the advanced functionality will be behind a paywall. Paid version The following functionality will be behind a … [Read more...]

Quick tip – Emigrant names were often phonetic equivalents

If you're trying to figure out what the original name of your immigrant ancestor was, don't just focus on official translations, but also figure out what names may have sounded the same. For example, a woman named Jessica in Australia may well have been called Tjitske. A man named Dick (short for Richard) in the United States may well have been … [Read more...]

Sinterklaas Giveaway – Dutch Genealogy Webinar

On 5 December, we will celebrate Sinterklaas, the holiday of Saint Nicholas that inspired Santa Claus in other countries. Sinterklaas has already arrived and children all over the country are setting their shoe by the fireplace (or central heating) with a carrot for the horse of Sinterklaas, hoping that Sinterklaas and his helpers will give them … [Read more...]

Quick tip – Share Your Family Stories

Two weeks ago, I shared a story on this site's Facebook page. Here's what I wrote: My grandfather lived in one of the wings of this castle when he served on the staff of Prince Bernhard during the last months of World War II. Apeldoorn was liberated at the end of 1944 and became the headquarters while the resistance and allied forces were planning … [Read more...]

Stumbling Blocks – Remembering Debora Hedeman and Bertha Zilversmit

Last month, twenty bronze monuments were installed in my home town of Oldenzaal. They are Stolpersteine, "stumbling blocks," about 10x10 cm (4x4") large bronze stones inscribed with the name of a Jewish resident who was murdered during the Holocaust. They are placed in the pavement in front of the house where they last lived. These Stolpersteine … [Read more...]