Dutch term – Handelaar

A handelaar was a trader. Handelaren could mostly be found in cities, not villages, and were often quite well-to-do. Sometimes, specific words were used to show what people were trading in: a graanhandelaar traded in grain, a fietsenhandelaar traded in bicycles, and a handelaar in koloniale waren traded in colonial goods. You can also use … [Read more...]

Free Alternatives to WieWasWie

WieWasWie, the largest genealogical database in the Netherlands, introduced a paid subscription earlier this year. Here are some free alternatives. 1: Use the free version of WieWasWie You can try to make do with the free version of WieWasWie. All of the information is still available for free, but the search options are pretty … [Read more...]

Quick tip – What Organizations Was Your Ancestor Involved in?

In the 1800s and 1900s, there were many organizations for every aspect of a person's life. Here are some examples I encountered in my research projects: Honorary member of the Society for the Promotion of the Musical Arts. Chairman of a local  branch of the Anti-Revolutionaire Partij [Anti Revolutionary Party], a Christian … [Read more...]

Dutch term – Pakjesavond

Pakjesavond = "gift evening." Traditionally, Dutch families give gifts on St. Nicholas' Eve, on December 5th. Sinterklaas and his helpers, the Zwarte Pieten, will bring gifts for all the children and some of the adults too. "Santa Claus" is derived from the Dutch word "Sinterklaas." Read more about the differences and similarities about these … [Read more...]

Celebrating Sinterklaas

In the Netherlands, we celebrate St. Nicholas' Eve on the 5th of December. Sinterklaas arrives in the country about three weeks before, on his steam ship from Spain. He is accompanied by his helpers, the Zwarte Pieten [Black Petes] who pass out small spiced cookies called pepernoten and candy to the children. Sinterklaas then gets on his white … [Read more...]

Dutch term – Buurtschap

A buurtschap is literally a neighborship. It is a part of a municipality or parish. Unlike a village or town, a buurtschap usually does not have a center or church but consists of a group of farms dotting the landscape. Buurtschap is a word most commonly used in rural parts of the Netherlands. The closest English term would be hamlet. In … [Read more...]

5 Ways to Find Out When Your Ancestor Was Born

How do you find out when your ancestor from the Netherlands was born? Here are five different ways. … [Read more...]

Quick tip: Did your widowed ancestor make a settlement?

If a widow or widower with young children wanted to marry again, often they first had to make a settlement with their minor children so they received their share of the deceased parent's inheritance. These records can be helpful to prove family relationships, to get insights into the economic circumstances of the family, and to find out about … [Read more...]

Dutch term – Dijkgraaf

A dijkgraaf is a dike reeve, the head of a waterschap [water board]. He is responsible for the water management, including flood control, in his district. His function is similar to a mayor of a municipality.  Nowadays, a dijkgraaf is appointed by the King for a period of six years. Historically, a dijkgraaf was usually … [Read more...]

Ask Yvette – Where is “Friesland” anyway?

Holly (De Fries) Flaherty wanted to know more about Friesland. Her paternal grandfather was from Friesland and spoke Dutch, but her maternal grandfather was from Friesland and spoke German. She heard that there were two provinces called Friesland - one German and one Dutch. She wanted to know if they were connected, historically, and whether … [Read more...]