Seven Ways to Find Your Dutch Ancestor’s Occupation

Finding your ancestor's occupation is a great way to learn more about his life and can be a gateway to finding more records. Here are six different ways you can find out what your Dutch ancestors did for a living. 1: Civil registration records If your ancestor lived in the Netherlands after 1811, you should be able to find your ancestor in … [Read more...]

Dutch term – Postbode

A postbode is a mail man. For large parts of the 1800s and 1900s, the government controlled the delivery of the mail and mail men were civil servants. You can find their personnel and pension records at the Nationaal Archief in The Hague. … [Read more...]

Dutch term – Visser

A visser is a fisherman. Fishing was a common occupation in the coastal towns of the Netherlands, including those surrounding the Zuiderzee (now: IJsselmeer). Willem Beukels, a fisherman from Biervliet in Zeeland, invented the technique of gibbing herring, which allowed Dutch fishermen to remain at sea for longer periods of time before the fish … [Read more...]

Quick tip – Occupations ran in the family

Occupations often ran in the family. The eldest son usually inherited the father's business, and would step in his father's footsteps. Guilds often had friendly terms for children of members, with reduced fees for apprenticeships and membership. Even younger sons who could not take over their father's business often found similar work. The son of a … [Read more...]

Dutch term – Dienstbode

A dienstbode was a domestic servant. Many dienstbodes lived with the families where they served. Because dienstbodes moved a lot, many municipalities started keeping seperate "dienstbodenregisters" [registers of domestic servants] as part of the population registration to keep track of who lived where. … [Read more...]

Dutch term – Particulier

A particulier is a private person, someone not working for the government and not a business. For instance, when you buy something, it is important whether you buy it as a particulier (consumer) or as a business since your warranty may be different. The female form is particuliere. In some records, the term was used to indicate a person who was … [Read more...]

Dutch term – Gezel

A gezel is a journeyman, a craftsman who had already finished basic training but had not passed his master's exam yet and had not been admitted to the guild. The term is also used to indicate someone who worked for a boss rather than having their own shop, so a gezel doesn't mean the person is young. You can find the word gezel used as a suffix … [Read more...]

Dutch term – Doodgraver

The term doodgraver literally means 'dead digger.' It is the person who digs the graves for the dead. In larger towns, this was a full-time occupation. In small towns, the church sometimes hired poor people to dig the graves, making them work for their allowance. A grave digger was not only supposed to dig the graves but also to collect any … [Read more...]

Dutch term – Wasvrouw

A wasvrouw was a laundress. It was an occupation for poor women, who were usually single or widowed. … [Read more...]

Dutch term – Voogd

A voogd is a guardian. Before 1811, guardians were usually appointed by the Weeskamer (orphan chamber). After 1811, they were appointed by the court. You can find guardianship appointments in the court records. … [Read more...]