I am proud to announce that my article “Griete Smit’s Parentage: Proof in the Absence of Vital Records” has been selected as the lead article of the December 2016 issue of the National Genealogical Society Quarterly. NGS members can download the PDF from the NGSQ archives. The journal is also available in many libraries in the United States and some major libraries elsewhere in the world.
The National Genealogical Society Quarterly is known for its case studies, which teach sound research principles rather than focusing on the outcome of the research. My case study showed how I researched Griete Smit’s family and neighbors to prove who her parents were. Griete Smit lived in the Dutch town of Bredevoort in the early 1600s, during the Eighty Years’ War. The case study also teaches about the types of records that are available for that time and place, and about using local traditions as indirect evidence.
Griete Smit was the neighbor of Hendrickje Stoffels, the mistress of Rembrandt van Rijn and my 11th great-aunt. Many years ago, I found a deed whereby Hendrickje Stoffels and her siblings sold their parents’ house in Bredevoort. This was the first document ever found to list Hendrickje with her immediate family and to prove her place of origin. To find the exact location of the house, I went through all available records for Bredevoort in the 1600s; at least 10,000 (unindexed) pages. To find the location of one house, I had to reconstruct the property owners in the entire town of 200 houses. During that research, I learned a lot about the other people in the town.
The case study in the NGSQ is a shorter version of the one I used in my portfolio for the Board for Certification of Genealogists last year. The BCG requires that the case study you submit solves a question of identity or relationship. Since I did not know whether identifying the location of a house would qualify, I decided to use one of the by-products of the research into that house, which identified two generations of the Smit family who lived next door to the Stoffels family. So the Smits in the article aren’t even my own ancestors, although I know a genealogist who descends from them.
My interest in genealogy has long shifted from my own ancestors to solving complex puzzles, so I don’t care if they are my own ancestors or not. It was fun to deeply analyze all the records and document my proof argument. That type of complex research is what attracts me to doing client projects too.
If you’ve read the article, I would love to hear what you think!