When civil registration records are created, two original copies are made. They are duplicate originals and both have the same legal standing.
One is kept at the local level, and can now often be found in municipal or regional archives. The other is kept at the provincial level, originally in court houses but now in the archives in the provincial capital.
It is worthwhile to check both archives for the records:
- One archive may have indexed the records while the other did not
- One archive may have scanned the records while the other did not
- One may have scanned them from black/white microfilm while the other scanned in full-color
- One may have scanned more recent records than the other, for example if one archive scans all the records as they become public while the other only scans in ten-year blocks.
Example: birth record of Hendrik Hoitink
This is the birth record of my grandfather, Hendrik Hoitink, who was born in Winterswijk in Gelderland on 13 March 1914. His birth record is kept at the Gelders Archief in Arnhem (provincial level) and at the Erfgoedcentrum Achterhoek en Liemers in Doetinchem (regional level).
The Gelders Archief has indexed birth records up until 1912, and the attached scans are digitized b/w microfilms. The Erfgoedcentrum Achterhoek en Liemers has not indexed the birth records, but scanned them up to 1918 in full-color. Because I knew the birth date, I could easily find the record. For births before 1912, I could have used the index on the Gelders Archief website to find the birth date, and then used the Erfgoedcentrum Achterhoek en Liemers website for the best quality scan.
- Civil Registration (Winterswijk), birth record 1914 no. 95, Hendrik Hoitink (14 March 1914); call no. 86, Municipal administration Winterswijk – civil registration records, 1811-1960, record group 1539, Erfgoedcentrum Achterhoek en Liemers, Doetinchem; finding aid and images , Erfgoedcentrum Achterhoek en Liemers (http://www.ecal.nu : accessed 18 April 2020).
Another reason to check both copies of a Civil Registration record is that although theoretically both records should contain exactly the same information, in rare ocassions there may be differences.
For instance a margin note added to one record may not have made it to the other record and sometimes mis-spellings or other writing errors may happen in one of the two copies.