Column – Unnecessary

Many archival collections in the Netherlands have been cataloged in finding aids according to the principles of the nineteenth-century archivists Feith, Fruin, and Muller. Their Handleiding voor het ordenen en beschrijven van archieven [Manual for orderning and describing of archives] from 1898 states that a finding aid should merely provide an … [Read more...]

Column – Fake News and Alternative Facts

You see it everywhere online: fake news. Sensational stories, written to draw attention and gain clicks for ads. Fake news about the presidential candidates may even have influenced the US elections. Even in genealogy, it is often the less reliable information that draws our attention. Complete family trees can be found online, but may not be … [Read more...]

Column – Destroyed

"How many of you want your work destroyed after you're gone?" This question was asked by Thomas W. Jones during a lecture. The crowd laughed; of course that was nobody's intention. Still, this will be the reality for most of us. We've invested a lot in our research; in time but also in money. Books, subscriptions, memberships, travel costs, … [Read more...]

Column – The Gap

Archives have the legal task to keep records in good, orderly and accessible condition. But what the Archiefwet [Archive Law] considers accessible does not always match users' expectations. In the most basic form of access, users can consult the records in the reading room. An increasing number of records can also be found online by clicking … [Read more...]

Column – The future of Genealogy

This year, I am celebrating my twenty-fifth anniversary as a genealogist. During this time, we saw the change from paper to digital. Will we see as many changes in the next twenty-five years? Here are my predictions for genealogy in 2041. In the future, it will not be possible to visit an archive in person anymore. The most popular sources are … [Read more...]

Column: Receipt

The receipt of the Teeven deal had been preserved: we could reconstruct how much money had been paid; even fifteen years after the fact. The drama that followed demonstrated that archiving is more than just preserving things well; it is also a matter of being able to find information again.* In the Netherlands, the national government has a … [Read more...]

Column – Reuse

Since 18 July 2015, the Netherlands has a law to regulate the reuse of government information. The law is intended to give an impulse to the economy if government information is used as fuel for new products and services. The law requires archives to cooperate in the reuse of government information. They can only charge the marginal costs for … [Read more...]

Column – Everything online?

About twenty years ago, I gave a lecture about internet genealogy. Internet was in its infancy. I could answer the question "Do you think archives will ever put everything online?" with a negative. The hundreds of miles of archives would be too extensive to digitize. I also figured that repositories would be hesitant to give up their monopoly … [Read more...]

Column – Safe?

"My family tree is safe, I use Dropbox." Such cloud solutions, that automatically stores files online, are popular among genealogists. You don't have to remember to make a copy and can access the files from all your computers, tablets and phones. Your files are safe. Are they? Ensuring future accessibility of your files requires two things: the … [Read more...]

Column – The right to be forgotten

A new European guideline ensures that citizens have the right to be forgotten. They can ask search engines to remove results that are no longer relevant. That will prevent your drunk selfie from appearing on the first page of search results the next time a potential employer searches for your name. The guideline is primarily aimed at search … [Read more...]