Archives for September 2013

Dutch term: Persoonskaart

A persoonskaart is a personal record card, introduced in 1939 to register who lived where. Persoonskaarten are one of the most important sources for research in the 20th century, because they are one of the few records that can be obtained within 50 years after a person's death. Read the article about Personal record cards for more information. … [Read more...]

Marriage booklets: why they are important even if you can’t find them

In the third quarter of the nineteenth century, municipal authorities began to hand out "trouwboekjes" [marriage booklets] to the bride and groom at the time of their marriage. This booklet would contain the names of the spouses, date and place of their marriage, and had room for the names, birth places and birth dates of any children born to this … [Read more...]

Quick tip: Use Genver to find Dutch records on Familysearch

UPDATE 11 June 2014: The website has been discontinued, the service to find records is now available at Read more about using Zoekakten. has a tremendous amount of digitized records from the Netherlands: Church records Civil registration records (births, marriages, deaths) Census records and … [Read more...]

Dutch term: burgemeester

The term burgemeester means 'mayor'. Before 1795, when the French occupied the Netherlands and introduced new laws, most towns had more than one mayor. These were elected officials. Since 1795, each municipality only has one mayor. Mayors are appointed by the crown. In early records of the civil registration, it is not unusual for a mayor of a … [Read more...]

Online cemeteries – Dutch alternatives to Find a Grave

Not many cemeteries in the Netherlands can be found on international websites like Find a Grave or Billion Graves. There is no Dutch equivalent for these sites, but there are several websites that provide photos of graves. … [Read more...]

Quick tip: Look in the margins of birth records

The margins of birth records sometimes contain interesting information. For example, if the child was born out of wedlock, and the mother later married and the husband recognized the child as his, this will be recorded in the margin of the birth record. So don't rely on an index, but always check the original document to see what information may be … [Read more...]

Dutch term: inventaris

An inventaris is an inventory. In a genealogical context, it can have two different meanings: A finding aid or catalog of a collection, for example the inventaris of the archive of the Dutch East India Company. A call number of a file within a catalog is called an inventarisnummer ( An inventory of an estate of a person, usually a … [Read more...]

My great-grandparents’ incestuous marriage

When my great-grandparents Hendrik Woordes and Janna Geertruid Droppers wanted to get married in 1910, they were facing a problem. The law did not allow them to marry, since his first wife Hendrika Willemina Droppers had been the sister of Janna Geertruid. Hendrika Willemina had died in childbirth the year before, leaving Hendrik with a motherless … [Read more...]

Quick tip: Find Dutch genealogical collections at archives, not libraries or courthouses

Unlike in the US, most genealogical records and collections in the Netherlands can be found in archives, not libraries or courthouses. Most libraries do not have a genealogical collection, just some published books about genealogy. Courthouses, municipalities and other governmental agencies are required by law to transfer their permanent records to … [Read more...]

Dutch term: patroniem

A patroniem is the Dutch word for 'patronymic,' a name derived from the father's name. Examples are Jansen (son of Jan), Marijnissen (son of Marijn or Marinus) or Damen (son of Daam or Adam). In some provinces where patronymics were common, like Friesland and Noord-Brabant, you may encounter the word patroniem in search engines. If this is the … [Read more...]