Open data case study: Changing names in Winterswijk

The Gelders Archief just published many¬†of their genealogical indexes as open data. This allows everyone to download the indexes and re-use them. Being a bit of a geek, I could not resist downloading some of the sets for Winterswijk to see what I could do with them. Winterswijk is the town where my father was born, and most of his ancestors to0, … [Read more...]

Quick tip – Was your ancestor the first to use the surname?

Let's say you've gone all the way back to the 1500s, 1600s or 1700s and can't find the parents of your brick wall ancestor. Could it be that your ancestor was the first one to use the name? Perhaps your Van Etten really was from Etten, and his parents only used a patronymic. Perhaps your Hoitink ancestor was born on another farm, and only called … [Read more...]

Quick tip – The last name may not have come from the father

In genealogy, we are used to children having the same last name as their father. But there are several circumstances in which the child could have a different name: If the child used a patronymic, in which case the name of the child would be derived from the father's first name, not his last name (e.g. Pier Hessels, son of Hessel Jans). This … [Read more...]

Quick tip – The name may suggest the place of origin

Different regions have different traditions, not only when it comes to naming children but also when it came to choosing surnames. Someone named Bauke Ferwerda is bound to be Frisian, as the suffix -a can mostly be found in the northern provinces and Bauke is a Frisian first name. Janna Geertruida Meerdink is undoubtely from the eastern part … [Read more...]

Quick tip: names change

"The past is a foreign country, they did things differently there."1 One of the fundamental differences is the way that people were named. In many parts of the Netherlands, people did not have a hereditary surname until 1811. But even after 1811, names could get changed, for instance if someone emigrated or if the clerk made an error. The next … [Read more...]

Quick tip: find the origin of your name in name taking records

If your family is from the northern provinces, or Jewish, you may find them in name taking records. When the civil registration was introduced, people who did not have a last name yet were required to record their last name. In such cases, the name taking record is often the earliest record you will find for your name. Sometimes, clues about the … [Read more...]

Dutch term: Register van naamsaanneming

A register van naamsaanneming is a register of name taking. In 1811/1825, people that did not have a last name yet, like people from the northern provinces or Jews, had to register their new name. See the article about name taking records for more information. … [Read more...]

Name taking records

The French occupation from 1795-1813 introduced many new types of administration, including the civil registration. To properly record people, it was necessary that they all had a last name. In 1811 and 1813, Napoleon decreed that everybody had to register their last name. After the French occupation ended, the Dutch government decided to keep … [Read more...]

Quick tip: surnames database

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...]

Quick tip: maiden names after marriage

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...]