Quick tip – Don’t search too broadly too soon

If you are stuck, it is tempting to start searching broadly. You might use Google or a national database like WieWasWie to see where your ancestors’ name pops up. However, this strategy often does not give you the result you’re hoping for.

You may find dozens of namesakes all over the country, without any way to tell if any of them is your ancestor. Or, even riskier, you may find just one namesake, and be tempted to conclude that this must be the one. However, the index may be incomplete, so the lack of other candidates does not mean that there aren’t any.

In my opinion, such broad searches should only be done after you first research your ancestor in the place where you know he or she lived. You have to know enough about him or her to distinguish him or her from any other namesake elsewhere in the world. Because Dutch people often name their children after relatives, even the most unusual name may occur more than once if two cousins are named after the same grandparent!

Boys looking up with binoculars

Boys searching. Credits: J.D. Noske, collection Nationaal Archief (CC-BY)

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.

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