Quick tip: Beware that you don’t translate names

boy looking at paper of boy sitting next to him

Boy cheating in class, 1937. Photo: Wiel van der Randen, collection Nationaal Archief

Many genealogists who don’t speak Dutch use Google Translate or Chrome to translate Dutch websites into English. But sometimes, these programs translate more than you want.

A person named Van der Molen might become From the Mill or a Dhr. Timmerman becomes Mr. Carpenter. The same could happen with geographical names: a village called De Rijp might become The Ripe and a street address Haven 5 might become Harbor 5.

Next time you see an English name in a translated text, check the original text to see what it says.

About Yvette Hoitink

Yvette Hoitink, MLitt, CG®, QG™ is a professional genealogist, writer, and lecturer in the Netherlands. She has a Master of Letters in Family and Local History from the University of Dundee, and holds the Certification of Genealogist and Qualified Genealogist credentials. Yvette served on the Board of Directors of the Association of Professional Genealogists and won excellence awards for her articles in the National Genealogical Society Quarterly and the Association of Professional Genealogists Quarterly. Yvette has been doing genealogy for over 30 years. She helps people from across the world find their ancestors from the Netherlands and its former colonies, including New Netherland. Read about Yvette's professional genealogy services.


  1. The machine translation feature of this app is referred to as the Quick Translations on iOS or Free Translations on Android. To use it, select the language of origin and target language you want, and enter the word, phrase, or sentence you intend the language translation app to process in the upper box. The translation is then generated in the lower box.

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