Dutch term – Peter and Meter

A peter is a godfather, meter is a godmother. The terms are typically used in Catholic sources. The word compeer is also sometimes used, especially in older records. In Dutch Reformed sources, the term doopgetuige (baptismal witness), or getuige (witness) is used more often. … [Read more...]

Dutch term – Klapper

A klapper is a finding aid, usually a physical book or binder with a name index. Klappers can often be found in reading rooms of archives. They are disappearing as they are being scanned or entered into databases. Finding out what klappers exist can help you create a research plan for a visit to an archive. Some archives have a catalog or … [Read more...]

Dutch term – Bakker and Bakkerij

A bakker is a baker, and a bakkerij is a bakery. Bread was and is a staple in the Dutch diet. The content and weight of loaves of bread was heavily regulated. If you have ancestors who were bakers, you may find them on lists of calibrated weights, or involved in court cases if their loaves were found to be too light or containing different … [Read more...]

Dutch term – Moetje

A moetje is a situation where a couple married because the bride was pregnant; a shot-gun wedding in modern terms. "Moeten" is the verb "must" and "-je" is the diminutive form. So the marriage was a "bit of a must." Customs were different in different areas and among different social classes. Among laborers in Friesland, it was quite common to … [Read more...]

Dutch term – Grootburger and Kleinburger

A burger is a burgher, a resident of the town with certain rights. Some towns had different levels of burghership, the grootburger [large burgher] and the kleinburger [small burgher]. The rights associated with each status depend on the location and period. Example: Burghers in Deventer This example is a translated abstract from information … [Read more...]

Dutch term – Arbeider

An arbeider is a laborer. Sometimes, records will indicate the type of work they did, such as a boerenarbeider [farm laborer] or fabrieksarbeider [factory worker]. Most laborers were poor and did not own any real estate. Many were illiterate. … [Read more...]

Dutch term – Tuugkist

A tuugkist is a chest that is used to store personal belongings such as clothes or jewelry. It is a word that is used in the eastern provinces of the Netherlands. Many tuugkisten have elaborate carvings. Some of them even have the initials or a date. Tuugkisten were often made when a couple started their own household,, so it can even provide … [Read more...]

Dutch term – Mulat, Mesties, Casties, Poesties, Testies

The Netherlands was involved in the slave trade from the late 1500s to the early 1800s. In the Dutch provinces, chattel slavery was outlawed, but it was common in the Dutch colonies such as Curacao and Suriname. In the colonies, slavery was abolished in 1863. In these Dutch colonies, specific terms were used to indicate the race of enslaved and … [Read more...]

Dutch term – Van Halven Bedde

Van halven bedde literally means "from half a bed."  It is a term indicating half-siblings or half-aunts and -uncles. For example, if somebody refers to a woman as her "zuster van halven bedde" [sister from half a bed] this refers to a half-sister and a "oom van halven bedde" [uncle from half a bed] refers to a half-uncle. … [Read more...]

Dutch term – Kruidenier

A kruidenier is a grocery (the shop) or grocer (the occupation). The word kruiden means spices, and reminds of the colonial origins of the word, when people would go to the kruidenier to buy pepper and nutmeg from the East Indies. Since the 1960s, most kruideniers have been replaced by supermarkets. … [Read more...]