Quick tip – Check for logical migration patterns

If you find a source that shows that your family originally came from elsewhere, check that the migration path they followed is logical. A few things to watch out for:

  • People usually went from rural areas to urban areas. It’s rare to find people moving from an urban area to a rural area, or from one rural area to another rural area.
  • Before say 1850, most people did not move around a lot. Exceptions exist, like skippers, people who worked for fairs and traveling salesmen.
  • Before say 1750, even marrying outside the village was uncommon for many poor people in rural areas.

If your family’s migration pattern does not appear to be logical, it’s wise to check whether you have not combined sources about two different people with the same name.

Departure of four couples to Canada

Departure of four couples to Canada, 1954. Credits: J.D. Noske, collection Nationaal Archief (CC-BY-SA)

About Yvette Hoitink

Yvette Hoitink, CG® is a professional genealogist in the Netherlands. She holds the Certified Genealogist credential from the Board for Certification of Genealogists and has a post-graduate certificate in Family and Local History from the University of Dundee. She has been doing genealogy for over 30 years and helps people from across the world find their ancestors in the Netherlands. Read about Yvette's professional genealogy services.


  1. This is a great blog topic, because it’s close to a question I’ve had for years and one that keeps getting near to the top of my to-do research list, but never really gets there. I’ve always wondered why my Gx4 grandfather moved from Sassenheim ZH (just outside Leiden) to Nieuwe Niedorp NH. He was the eldest of 11 children – all of his siblings remained in the Leiden area except his youngest sister, who married and ended up in Antwerp. Without enough significant evidence about him as of yet, all I’m able to do is consider the historical context and speculate what might motivate a move like that. He moved between the birth of his eldest and second child, so sometime between 1801 and 1804, so I wonder if it has anything to do with the state of things during the French occupation. I know that he was a farmer (as were his descendants, down to my grandfather), but I’m not sure as of yet what his father or grandfather did. My research tasks include finding records that might indicate what his father, etc. did for a living. I have older records about his older ancestors, but they either contain little information or the Dutch is too complicated for me to figure out without dedicating some significant time to the task.

    All this is to say that your post on this topic has spurred me to move this research task higher up the list!


  1. […] Quick Tip – Check for Logical Migration Patterns by Yvette Hoitink on Dutch Genealogy. This is a great tip to remember when looking for family who […]

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