Quick tip – Don’t stop looking after they left

Don't stop looking for your family in a town just because they don't live there anymore. They may still own property there, have business partners there, or may be heirs of people who stayed behind. In notarial records, I often find references to children living abroad, for instance when one of their parents died and their estate needed to be … [Read more...]

Why are the Dutch so tall?

When I visited Salt Lake City earlier this year, I was once again reminded that the Dutch are the tallest people on earth. At 1.75m (5'9"), I'm a bit above average height for a woman in the Netherlands, but in the US I was taller than most men and women. Here in the Netherlands, almost all of my male friends and some of my female friends are over … [Read more...]

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...]

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...]

Quick tip – Religion affected more than just the church they attended

Religion did not just determine where people went to church, but also whom they hung out with. It determined where children went to school, what choirs they sang in and what gym clubs they joined. People met their partners in church and formed friendships and family bonds that survived emigration to other countries. See this overview of popular … [Read more...]

Source – Staten van Landverhuizers

In the 1840s, when religious tensions were high and crops were failing, many people left the Netherlands to start a new life in America. The national government wanted to know what was going on. Since 1848, they required each province to keep lists of emigrants, the "Staten van Landverhuizers" [tables of emigrants]. Between 1831 and 1847, … [Read more...]

Popular destinations per religion

People who emigrated, usually did so in groups of like-minded people. One thing that bound them was religion. If your ancestor was Roman Catholic, he probably went where other Roman Catholics lived and where you find one Christian Reformed emigrant, you will probably find several. Here are some destinations I found in my own research of 19th … [Read more...]

Quick tip – Check for logical migration patterns

If you find a source that shows that your family originally came from elsewhere, check that the migration path they followed is logical. A few things to watch out for: People usually went from rural areas to urban areas. It's rare to find people moving from an urban area to a rural area, or from one rural area to another rural area. Before … [Read more...]

Lecture – From the Achterhoek to America

Last week, I gave a lecture about emigration from the Achterhoek to America in the 19th century. I was invited by the historical society of Aalten, Dinxperlo and Wisch, of which I am a member. The interest was overwhelming, they kept having to find more chairs to seat everyone. The Achterhoek is the eastern part of the province of Gelderland. … [Read more...]

Dutch term: Landverhuizer

The word landverhuizer means somebody who moved to another country. It's the term most 19th century records use when referring to emigrants. Knowing this term can help to find lists of emigrants ("staten van landverhuizers") in catalogs of repositories. Read more about landverhuizers in the column "Land movers." … [Read more...]