Quick tip – Check the finding aid or catalog for scans

When you are searching for your ancestors, it’s tempting to stick to searching for their name in an online index. But only a small fraction of records have been indexed. A larger part is available online as images that have not been indexed yet. These images are often available via the catalog or finding aids on the website of archives. Look for terms like inventarissen or archieven.

In some cases, the records have not been scanned yet, but the catalog or finding aid has a button to order scans, often for free. See the list of archives that provide free scanning-on-demand.

Card catalog at Rotterdam City Archives. Photo by author (CC-BY-SA)


About Yvette Hoitink

Yvette Hoitink, CG®, QG™ 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 diploma 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. I have learned this over the last year by digging into the unindexed images at FamilySearch…what a goldmine! I found the marriage record of a couple I believe to be my 4th great-grandparents from Berkshire, England in 1766 just this week using that method. It helps that I arranged for the library where I work to become a FamilySearch Affiliate.

    Several times recently I’ve mentioned on my blog about the treasures I’ve found by browsing image sets. Seeing your list of archives that provide free scanning in the Netherlands makes me wish I had ancestors there!!

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