Ask Yvette: What happened to Genlias?

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.

Genlias

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 logoWieWasWie 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.

About Yvette Hoitink

Yvette Hoitink is a professional genealogist in the Netherlands. She has been doing genealogy for almost 25 years. Her expertise is helping people from across the world find their ancestors in the Netherlands. Read about Yvette's professional genealogy services.

Comments

  1. The thing I miss the most about Genlias is its simplicity. As an English speaker, the system was simple enough that I could still navigate most of it in Dutch. It doesn’t take long at WieWasWie to get way over my head with the Dutch pages and I think you miss things if you only stick to the translated parts of the website. And of course, I had hundreds of links to Genlias that are now gone 🙁

  2. Judd Zandstra says

    I L-O-V-E WieWasWie for all the reasons you give and more. But best of all it’s F-R-E-E unlike some other genealogy web sites I could name. Yes, my database has a lot of links to GenLias and that’s a problem. However, instead of just saving a link I also copied the information as text so I still have that. The lesson is that we sites come and go and take their links with them. The prudent researcher should always save a text copy or download an image as well as save a link.

  3. Dave Simmer says

    My family, on my grand father’s side, originated from the Friesland area, therefore I use Tresoar for my early searches. My grand mother’s side of the family was from the Amersfoort area, so I used Genlias for that side of the family. Wie Was Wie has made it much easier to search the whole country and the links all of the others is wonderful. I still go to Tresoar for searches for years earlier than 1811 and they have so much more that just family information. I also have to tip my hat to the wonderful work that is being done at Alle Friezen. I have many documents about my family from them and by reading them you have more information than just the marriage, birth, or death. I am a English speaker also, but love to learn Dutch and read the documents in the original language. I have found that interpretation programs many times don’t give you the true feeling or meaning of the original Dutch writings.

  4. WieWasWie has gotten better since it debuted a couple years ago, but I found the searching and navigation easier in Genlias, especially when searching on two people. WieWasWie keeps resetting its search type to “Match” when I want to search “Begins with”. Every time a change a name I have to re-select “Begins with”.

    I remember hearing that WieWasWie was going to be subscription based when it was first coming out. It sounds like that is not the case? That would be good news!

    One other item – in Genlias it was really easy to find what records were available for which cities. I can’t find that information in WieWasWie. There I only find links to the participating archives. Sometimes when searching I come up with nothing and it makes me wonder if the records are even there.

    • Hi Renee,
      Instead of using “Begins with” you can also use “Exact” in combination with the * as wildcard (for example: Jans* matches Jans, Jansen and Janssen). The “Wat zit er in” page allows you to search by place name to see the current database contents.

  5. I had and have no problems with the new site, but I did just find a name that tries to link to genlias. It has no record in WiewasWie or allefriezen.nl. I have two dead ends now. (at the very least)

  6. Paula Dunagan says

    I like WieWasWie just fine, but I have a lot of records that I found on Genlias years ago that I have never been able to find at all on WieWasWie. What happened to those and why are they not available on WieWasWie? So in essence, why did not all of the records from Genlias transfer to WieWasWie.
    Thanks so much.

    • All of the records that were in Genlias are in WieWasWie. The search is slightly different and very picky (everything has to match exactly) so that may be why you’re not finding your records. Try entering less information.

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