In the Netherlands, there has never been a tradition of writing biographical obituaries like you see in countries like the United States. Instead, “familieberichten” [family announcements] simply announce the death of a person.
In the 19th century, only more affluent people had a familiebericht placed in the paper. It was usually very short and only signed by the closest relative, typically the spouse or eldest son. In the 20th century, the announcements became a bit more informative and usually included all the children. But the information about the deceased is usually limited to the name and date of death, sometimes a date of birth as well.
Where to find family announcements
There are two major places to search for familieberichten: online newspaper website Delpher and the Central Bureau for Genealogy.
The Delpher website provides access to kranten (newspapers). Search for the last name of the person combined with the name of the town where he died, or search for the last names of two spouses.
Central Bureau for Genealogy
The Central Bureau for Genealogy (CBG) collects newspaper clippings. The collection is available via their catalog. Search for the last name and then click ‘Familieberichten.’ Viewing the pages costs credits, that can be purchased from the CBG.
The clippings come without source citations so it is unknown which newspaper the announcement appeared in. I always search Delpher after I find a clipping to see if I can find it in its original context.
The CBG is indexing all of these clippings. The index is available on WieWasWie. If you click the thumbnail of the page, you will be taken to the CBG website where you need credits.
Example: Hendrik Jan Kastein
The Central Bureau for Genealogy collection includes two family announcements for Hendrik Jan Kastein (1848-1930).
His marriage announcement shows that Hendrik Jan Kastein married E.J.E. de Monjé on 20 May 1885. He worked as a ‘religious teacher’ (preacher). The announcement also shows that he lived in Haarlem and she lived in The Hague prior to their marriage.
The death announcement of Hendrik Jan Kastein shows that he died in Velp on 7 February 1930. The announcement also gives us biographical information: he was a ‘religious teacher’ in the Dutch Reformed Church and the Arnhem prisons. He was a Knight in the Order of Oranje Nassau. The introduction calls him a husband, father, father-in-law and grandfather, which tells us about his family composition. The funeral will take place on the following Tuesday at the “Heiderust” cemetery in Worth-Rheden.
This announcement gives several opportunities for further research:
- We can search WieWasWie for his death record
- We can visit the Worth-Rheden cemetery to see if his grave still exists
- We can find the Royal Decree whereby he was knighted
- We can search newspapers to find out when and where he was appointed as preacher of the Dutch Reformed Church and the Arnhem prison
- We can consult the Arnhem prison archives to see if they have any personnel files
- We can look for the church records, including the council minutes, to see what his parish was like.
Dutch Genealogy source score
Amount of information about births, marriages, deaths
Amount of background information about your ancestors
Online availability of scans
Online availability of indexes or transcriptions
Easy to understand if you don’t know Dutch