Between 1995 and 2012, many archives in the Netherlands published indexes of birth, marriage and death records on Genlias (www.genlias.nl). Genlias was taken offline in 2013 and replaced by WieWasWie.
Genlias was the most popular genealogy site in the country, and many people used it for their research. Ancestry.com still links to Genlias, even though all the links are broken now. This is why I still get asked about Genlias, even though the website has been offline for over two years.
Why was Genlias replaced?
As the former webmaster of Genlias, I know there were three main reasons why Genlias was replaced:
- The underlying technology was obsolete. The core of the website was still the same as in the 1990s. It was not built to handle the massive visitor numbers that Genlias generated. Trying to squeeze ever more performance out of that old code, was like trying to hold up a skyscraper on a foundation that was meant for a house.
- The visitors and participating archives wanted more. Genlias was built for indexes and could not handle images of documents. It only supported birth, marriage and death records.
- Archives wanted to maintain their information in one place. Genlias had its own database. Each participating archive had to submit exports of their own data, which was then imported to Genlias. If errors were corrected, whole sets had to be reloaded. This was time-consuming and prone to errors. WieWasWie connects directly to the databases of the participating archives. They can now maintain their information in one place and it is automatically presented on their own website and on WieWasWie.
What are the differences between Genlias and WieWasWie?
WieWasWie has retained the good things of Genlias: it provides free access to indexes from across the country and has an English interface. But WieWasWie does more:
- WieWasWie has more participants than Genlias, like the municipal archives of Breda, Leeuwarden and Rotterdam and the Central Bureau for Genealogy, who provide different records.
- WieWasWie has a wider range of records. The data structure of Genlias was only built for birth, marriage and death records. WieWasWie is more flexible and now also has information from population registers, passenger lists, family announcements in newspapers and a range of other sources.
- WieWasWie provides links to a growing number scans. The scans are provided by the participating archives on their own website. Some of these websites require payment, most don’t. WieWasWie has started to provide links to Familysearch for scans of records that the participating archives have not digitized yet.
- WieWasWie allows you to build your own tree. However, that functionality will not be developed further so I don’t recommend using this anymore. Use WieWasWie for access to sources, but build your tree elsewhere.
Were you a Genlias fan? How do you like WieWasWie in comparison? Please share your experiences in the comments.