Dutch terms – Bunder, Roede, El

Bunder, roede, and el were measures of land. You can find them in cadastral records and other land records. These terms have been used for centuries, and reflected different sizes in different areas. A bunder was typically 400 or 450 roede. An el was around 68-70 cm (distance from elbow to end of finger) and an el used for a surface area was a … [Read more...]

Dutch term – Dienstmeid

A dienstmeid is a maid servant. The tasks of a dienstmeid depended on the wealth of the family, the presence of other servants or a housekeeper, and whether she worked on a farm or in the city. Tasks typically included cleaning, laundry, setting the fireplaces, etc. Richer households might hire a separate washing woman or cleaning lady, but in many … [Read more...]

Dutch term – Vreemdeling

A vreemdeling is a stranger or an alien. The word is used in genealogical records to indicate someone who was not Dutch, an immigrant. Vreemdelingen typically had to register with the municipality. The specific regulations and resulting records depend on the time and place. … [Read more...]

Dutch term – Onbewoonbaar Verklaard

In the early 1900s, a new residence law came in effect to improve the living conditions of poor people. Under this law, houses could be onbewoonbaar verklaard [declared unlivable] and the residents had to move out. … [Read more...]

Dutch term – Beerwagen

A beerwagen was a cess car, a car used to collect faeces in larger cities. In Amsterdam, this was also known as a boldootwagen, which jokingly referred to Boldoot, an Amsterdam factory making perfume. Before indoor plumbing, people would use buckets instead of toilets. A beerwagen would come by to collect the waste. It did not need to ring a … [Read more...]

Dutch term – Vuurwerk

Vuurwerk is the Dutch term for fireworks. Traditionally, fireworks are lit at midnight on New Year's Eve. This year, fireworks are not allowed because hospitals are already overwhelmed. Fireworks is a modern version of the old tradition to make noise to scare the spirits of the old year away. Before fireworks were available, people would shoot … [Read more...]

Dutch term – Winter

The Dutch word winter means the same in English: winter. Wintertime was traditionally the time to do indoor activities, such as finishing wooden shoes, weaving, making mats, etc. In many parts of the Netherlands, it was hard to get around in the winter since the roads were too boggy. As soon as it was cold enough for the ice to become reliable, … [Read more...]

Dutch term – Voornoemd

In records, you sometimes see a reference to someone, "voornoemd." That means "aforesaid," the same person as mentioned before. For example, the beginning of the record may introduce Jan Jansen as the guardian of Janna Derksen. Further on in the record they may refer to "Jan Jansen, voornoemd," which refers to the Jan Jansen that was already … [Read more...]

Dutch term – Verklarende niet te kunnen schrijven

In civil registration records, the informants of birth and death records and the bride and groom and their parents in marriage records, as well as the witnesses, are asked to sign the record. If the people were illiterate, this will be noted in the final sentences of the record. Often you will see a sentence like "verklarende de moeder van de … [Read more...]

Dutch term – Stemmen

Stemmen means to vote. In the Netherlands, the right to vote was originally tied to owning property or personal wealth. It took until 1917 for all men to be allowed to vote. Women had to wait until 1919. … [Read more...]