Dutch term – Lente

Lente or voorjaar is the Dutch word for Spring. Spring was traditionally the time for sowing the crops for the coming season. Work contracts were often renewed in Spring as well. This is the reason why so many farmers got married in May. They'd serve their contract out and then start their own farm and family. … [Read more...]

Dutch term – Weeshuis

A Weeshuis (literally: orphan's house) is an orphanage. Only larger cities had a special orphanage. In smaller cities, orphans were often found families to live with, who would receive a fee for their upkeep. Archives of weeshuizen often include the records of the orphans they took care of. This could tell you when they were admitted, what … [Read more...]

Dutch term – Hollandgänger

This week's term isn't Dutch at all, it's German. Hollandgänger literally means Holland-goer. It's a German term to describe seasonal workers who would come to the Netherlands to work. They'd walk to the Netherlands in spring, work here all summer, and then return to their families in Germany in the autumn. Most of these people were poor farm … [Read more...]

Dutch term – Woonplaats

Woonplaats literally means "living place" and is the place of residence. After the introduction of the civil registration, deaths were always recorded in the woonplaats as well as in the place of death. A copy of the death record would be forwarded to the place of residence. This is useful if your ancestor died elsewhere, for example because … [Read more...]

Dutch term – Opzichter

An opzichter is an overseer. If you find that your ancestor was an opzichter, that can be a clue to find more records about him. Opzichters were hired by various organizations like hospitals or prisons. In former Dutch colonies, you can find overseers on plantations or managing enslaved people. The organizations the overseers worked for may have … [Read more...]

Dutch term – Archiefbeschrijving

An archiefbeschrijving is an archival description. To describe their holdings, archives create archival descriptions. Descriptions can be high-over ("incoming correspondence 1800-1810") or detailed ("accounts of the orphans of Laureijs Smulders, 1606"). Archival descriptions are typically organized per record group and published in the form of … [Read more...]

Dutch term – Zoeaaf

A zoeaaf is a zouave, a member of the infantry forces of the Papal states. In the mid 1800s, the Papal states were threatened by forces in Italy who wanted all the states to join under one nation. In 1860, pope Pius IX sent out a call to young unmarried Catholic men to join the infantry force and defend the papacy. The zouave papal … [Read more...]

Dutch term – Schaats

A schaats is a skate. Skating is a popular sport in the Netherlands, and has been for a long time. Many parts of the Netherlands are very boggy, and are drained by creeks and levies. In winter, skating was an efficient way to get around. When I was about ten years old, I'd skate to school if the weather allowed it. There were several ponds … [Read more...]

Dutch term – Feestdag

A feestdag (literally: feast day) is a holiday. Traditionally, feestdagen played an important role in our ancestors' lives, and not just the ones many of us know today like Christmas and Easter. Roman Catholic churches had patron saints. The holidays associated with these saints often remained important days for the town, even after the … [Read more...]

Dutch term – Baljuw

A baljuw [bailiff] was an official who represented the ruler of the region and had the highest jurisdiction. They usually received a fixed salary and a share of the fines. Other terms for this function are drost or drossaard.  Baljuws were appointed by the ruler. You can sometimes find these appointments in the records created by the ruler, such … [Read more...]