Source – Census records

The first nation-wide census of the Netherlands was held in 1795, during the French occupation. The first official Dutch census that recorded every individual was held in 1830 and was held every ten years. In 1850, the population register was introduced to keep the population information up-to-date in between censuses. Initially, the census was … [Read more...]

Quick tip – Also Check Church Records After 1811

Church records of baptisms, marriages, and burials are the go-to sources for vital information before the introduction of the civil registration. After 1811, we usually don't bother since the civil registration records are often more reliable. But these church records can contain important information. When to check the church … [Read more...]

Dutch term – Broederdienst

Broederdienst literally means "brother service." It was a reason for exemption of military service. If a family had an even number of sons, half of them had to serve. If they had an uneven number of sons, the lesser half had to serve. The brothers who did not have to serve got an exemption for broederdienst. You will often find these exemptions … [Read more...]

Celebrating 25 years of genealogy

Twenty-five years ago, I was a teenager in high school. I had lost my grandfather the year before. We were looking forward to a new addition to our family: My cousin was pregnant with her first child. My aunt told me it could be twins, since our deceased grandfather had a twin brother. I had never heard anything about this and had always thought … [Read more...]

Quick tip – Don’t go back too far too soon

When we go back in time, we often hit a brick wall for a person for whom we only know the name. Perhaps we find a marriage record that lists the father, or we find a name with a patronymic that suggests who the father was. It is very hard to find records if you only know a name. Often, names are not unique. There may be multiple people in the … [Read more...]

Dutch term – Oogst

Oogst is the Dutch word for harvest. During harvest time, most schools in the countryside would be nearly empty because children were kept home from school to help with the harvest. This silent movie from 1939 shows you how traditional harvesting was done. Credits: Harvest time, by Polygoon-Profilti (producer) / Netherlands Institute … [Read more...]

The Bed-Wetting Colonist

Even after twenty-five years as a genealogist, I am often amazed of the level of detail we can find in archival records. Here is one of the things I ran across when searching for a New Netherland ancestor of a client. In 1652, the colony of New Netherland—which encompassed large parts of what is now the state of New York—was eager for new … [Read more...]

Quick tip – Apply Lessons Learned to Old Problems

The longer we do genealogy, the better we get. We'll learn about new sources and strategies that help us solve new problems that come across our paths. But we should not stop there: we should also periodically revisit our old problems and apply the lessons we have learned. Two years ago, I wrote an article about how to find the father of an … [Read more...]

Dutch term – Abdij

An abdij is an abbey. Especially during medieval times, abbeys were important land owners. Many of them owned large estates, farmed by tenants or serfs. In addition, they were often entitled to tithes of several properties, usually a percentage of the proceeds. The archives of these abbeys can sometimes give information about the earliest known … [Read more...]

How Taking Clients Made Me a Better Genealogist

I had been doing genealogy for over twenty years when I started taking paying clients. I had done pro bono work for friends, researching all over the Netherlands, but that was more in a coaching capacity and often did not require formal reporting. In the years since I started taking clients, my skills have grown. Here are five ways in which being a … [Read more...]