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...]

Dutch term – Studiezaal

The studiezaal is the reading room. Most archives in the Netherlands have a reading room. Opening hours may vary, some smaller reading rooms are open by appointment only. Thanks to large digitization projects and scanning on demand services, visiting reading rooms in person is often not necessary anymore since most of the research can be done … [Read more...]

Dutch term – Sint Maarten

11 November is the feast day of Sint Maarten (Saint Martin). In some parts of the Netherlands, children go door-to-door holding night lights and singing songs. The neighbors would then give them treats. … [Read more...]

Dutch term: Eigenaar

An eigenaar is an owner. Up until recently, many people in the Netherlands did not own any real estate. They were tenants of farms, or rented a house. To find out whether your ancestors owned land, you can check death duties files, notarial records, court records, or cadastral records. For an example of research into property ownership, see … [Read more...]

Dutch term – Kleinkind

A kleinkind is a grandchild. The term literally translates to "small child." A kleinkind can be a kleindochter (granddaughter) or kleinzoon (grandson). … [Read more...]

Dutch term – Klerk

A klerk is a clerk, a civil servant. Sometimes you will see¬†klerk ter secretarie, which means a clerk at the administrative office of the municipality. You will often find clerks acting as witnesses in civil registration records, especially birth and death records. The informant of a death or birth record needed to have personal knowledge of the … [Read more...]

Dutch term – Vrouwenkiesrecht

The term vrouwenkiesrecht means women's suffrage. Today it is exactly 100 years ago that women got the right to vote. The first elections were women actually got to vote was in 1920. General male suffrage was not that much older: only in 1917, men were given the right to vote without conditions on property or income. … [Read more...]