Ask Yvette – Is my last name Dutch?

One of the questions I get asked frequently in person is whether a certain surname is Dutch. That can be tricky to answer, especially if a name got spelled differently after emigration. To find out where your name comes from requires genealogical research to trace the line that bears the last name back to its place of origin. That being said, here are a few resources to see if a last name occurs in the Netherlands: Database of surnames in the Netherlands. This is the first place to … [Read more...]

Ask Yvette – What happened to the Digitale Stamboom?

One reader contacted me to ask: I have lost a Dutch records site. It was called Dutch Municipal Records, and the URL was http://digitalestamboom.nl. That site now appears to be totally dead, because even the home page gives a 404 result. Can you refer me to a current URL?¬† Or is the site simply gone? What was the Digitale Stamboom? The¬†Digitale Stamboom, the Digital Family Tree, was a website created by a vendor of website software for genealogical information. Several archives used … [Read more...]

Ask Yvette – How to record transgender people?

In the Netherlands, it's legal for transgender persons change their gender and names on their birth records and in the population registration. You need to be at least sixteen years old and need a declaration by a gender specialist before you can go to the municipality to have your information changed, so it's not an easy process. In recent years, the requirement to have gender confirmation surgery was dropped, so transgender people can now have their gender changed without undergoing forced … [Read more...]

Ask Yvette – How to Organize Files for Dutch Ancestors

A reader was used to organizing her files by last name. Before 1811 her Dutch ancestors did not have last names but used patronymics, which made it difficult to see which files belonged to which line. She asked me how to organize files for people who did not use last names. I thought it might be helpful to share how I organize my files. I will use the files of my mother's side as an example. I have two trees, one for my father and one for my mother. Most people prefer to have only one tree, … [Read more...]

Ask Yvette – How far can you go back?

One question that pops up regularly in conversations is how far back we can trace our Dutch ancestors. Here's a rough overview that will apply to most people. Research in the 1900s and 2000s is difficult because of privacy restrictions. You will need permission or proof of death to access records of people born less than 100 years ago. Since 1811, the entire population has been recorded in the civil registration. Anybody who died in the Netherlands after 1811 should be in it. Using the civil … [Read more...]

Ask Yvette – Where Can I Find Records For St. Eustatius?

Over the past months, two readers have asked me where to find records for St. Eustatius, an island in the Caribbean. Since more people may have the same question, I thought I'd turn it into an article. St. Eustatius is a special municipality in the Kingdom of the Netherlands. The former Dutch colony is part of the Netherlands Antilles. If you have ancestors from St. Eustatius, here is an overview of the available records. An index to the civil registration birth, marriage, and death … [Read more...]

Ask Yvette – Should I Take a DNA Test?

Last month, I blogged about my ethnicity predictions, which were wildly off. As a result, several people have asked me: Should I take a DNA test if they are so unreliable? My answer? Absolutely! You see, a DNA test gives you two types of results. On the one hand, it gives you the ethnicity predictions. This feature has the most curb appeal and is a reason why many people test. Unfortunately, these results are highly speculative, especially below the continent level. My ethnicity … [Read more...]

Ask Yvette – How to Record Place Names

Dutch Genealogy reader Linda had the following question: In my research, the locations for some births/deaths, etc. are confusing. I'm finding, "Lellens, Ten Boer, Groningen, Netherlands" or just "Ten Boer, Groningen, Netherlands". ALSO "Stedum, Loppersum, Groningen, Netherlands" or just "Loppersum, Groningen, Netherlands", and once, "Stedum, Groningen, Netherlands." Could you please address the correct way to list the locations of births/marriages/deaths? Ten Boer, Loppersum, and Lellens … [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 Denmark was once considered Friesland. To answer this question we have to go back. WAY back.  Once upon a time, in the first centuries BC … [Read more...]

Ask Yvette – Are there Passenger Lists in Dutch Archives?

I often get asked if there are any passenger lists in Rotterdam or Amsterdam, of the people who departed from these ports to America, Canada, or Australia. Depending on the period, there may not be any. Passenger lists often went with the ship and were archived in the port of arrival, not in the port of departure. The archives of the shipping companies sometimes have passenger lists. For example, the Rotterdam City Archives have the archives of the Holland Amerika Lijn and its predecessors, … [Read more...]