In the Netherlands there are different types of archives:
- National archives
- Provincial archives
- Local archives:
- Regional archives
- Municipal archives
This articles explains the differences between the archives and where to go for your research.
The Nationaal Archief in The Hague has two functions: it’s the National Archives of the Netherlands and it’s the provincial archive of the province Zuid-Holland.
As the National Archives, it keeps the records of the Dutch government and other institutions that are of national importance. Some collections are:
- Records of the departments (ministeries) of the government
- Dutch East Indies Company archives
- Dutch West Indies Company archives
- Cabinet of the Queen archives
- Emigration records
- Records of embassies
Many of these collections are usually only of interest to advanced genealogists who can visit the reading room in person.
The Netherlands is divided into twelve provinces that each have their own provincial archive. Each provincial archive keeps the records of that province. The provincial archives can be found in the capital city of each province.
Locally, there are regional archives and municipal archives. Municipal archives can usually only be found in the larger cities. Smaller towns have usually combined their information in regional archives.
Where to go?
Some sources, such as the civil registration, can be found in both the provincial and local archives. Other sources, such as the census records, can only be found in the local archives. Judicial sources, on the other hand, are usually available in the provincial archives only.
For some large cities, their records can only be found at the municipal archives and not in the provincial archives. It is always smart to check with the archive before visiting whether they have the records you are looking for.
If you’re researching in a large city, the municipal archive is the best place to start. Otherwise, start in the provincial archive. An additional advantage to the provincial archive is that you don’t have to visit another archive if the ancestor moved around in the area.