Quick Tip – Dutch Ancestors Left Few Last Wills

Our Dutch ancestors rarely had a last will drawn up. Most were too poor to have any goods to leave behind. But even people who did own property often did not feel the need to have a last will, since they were happy with the default arrangement under the law. The wills that do exist can be found in notarial records (in areas and periods where … [Read more...]

Quick Tip – NGSQ Case Study Now Available Online

In December 2016, I wrote a case study "Griete Smit's Parentage: Proof in the Absence of Vital Records" that appeared in the National Genealogical Society Quarterly. The case study showed how I researched Griete Smit’s family and neighbors to prove who her parents were. Griete Smit lived in the Dutch town of Bredevoort in the early 1600s, during … [Read more...]

Quick tip – Register for the NGS conference in Grand Rapids, Michigan now

The National Genealogical Society Family History Conference in Grand Rapids, Michigan (2-5 May 2018) will feature several Dutch topics. Dutch Genealogy's Yvette Hoitink will be there as a speaker. Register now for a chance to meet other people with Dutch roots and to learn more about tracing your Dutch ancestors, and many other topics. For the … [Read more...]

Quick tip – Download Population Registers from the 1900s While You Can

In May 2018, a new data protection law (AVG) will go into effect in the Netherlands. This is causing many archives to reconsider their privacy policies. Some archives have published population registers from the period 1918-1939 online, and are now taking them offline again since these may contain information about living people. The Apeldoorn … [Read more...]

Quick tip – Emigrants in the 1800s came from poor areas

If your ancestors left the Netherlands in the 1800s, chances are that they came from poor areas of the Netherlands such as East-Groningen, Friesland, Gelderland, Zeeuws-Vlaanderen, Limburg, or East-Brabant. These agricultural communities were hit hardest when the potato famine struck in the 1840s, and later when cheap American grain flooded the … [Read more...]

Dutch term – Vrij

Vrij means "free," as in freedom. You may encounter the word vrij in different contexts in genealogical records: A vrije persoon [free person] was someone who was not enslaved and who was not a serf. A vrij goed [free property] was a property (typically a farm) that did not have feudal obligations. Vrij van belasting [free of taxes] … [Read more...]

Quick tip – Study the Siblings if you’re Stuck

If you're stuck and can't find your ancestor's parents, try researching the siblings and other relatives. Here are some suggestions to identify possible siblings: Baptismal records and marriage records often name the witnesses. Witnesses were typically close family members, such as siblings. Court records sometimes show several people … [Read more...]

Quick tip – Some surnames were adopted gradually

As you get further back in time, you will get to the point where you find the first person who adopted a surname. Sometimes that's a distinct event; for example when a Frisian family adopts a last name in 1811 because it is required by the Napoleonic laws upon the introduction of the civil registration. Before 1811, there were no laws and … [Read more...]

Quick tip – Reusing images of records

Many Dutch websites with genealogical records allow you to download scans. But it is not always obvious what you are allowed to do with these scans. You may want to upload them to your online tree, use them in a blog post, or include them in a book you're writing. With most public records published on websites of archives, you will be able to do … [Read more...]

Quick tip – Use notarial records

Notarial records are a great source of genealogical information. They can contain prenuptial agreements, business contracts, last wills, and estate divisions, giving you an insight into your anecstors' lives and family. Not all areas had notaries before 1811, in which case you can find these sources in local court records. A growing number of … [Read more...]