Gelderland traditional dressGelderland is a province in the east of the Netherlands. It borders on Germany to the east, Overijssel, Flevoland and Utrecht to the north, Noord-Brabant to the south and Zuid-Holland and Utrecht to the west.

The capital city of Gelderland is Arnhem. Other large towns are:

  • Nijmegen
  • Apeldoorn
  • Zutphen
  • Doetinchem
  • Tiel

Genealogy in Gelderland

Gelderland is a large province, and traditions weren’t the same everywhere. In the eastern part of the province, called the Achterhoek, people used to name themselves after the farms they lived on. Officially, this was abolished when the civil registration was introduced in 1811 but many people are still known by their farm name as well as their official name.

In the western part of the province, people called themselves after their father, using so-called patronymics.

Large modern building

Gelders Archief

Most records in Gelderland are kept by the Gelders Archief in Arnhem. Unfortunately, their website is in Dutch only. They recently relocated to a new building.

All of the marriage records from Gelderland and an increasing number of death records can be found in WieWasWie. Transcribed church records of the eastern part of Gelderland, including Aalten, Dinxperlo, Varsseveld and Winterswijk, can be downloaded from Genealogiedomein. Select the name of the town on the left and then click ‘doopboeken’ (baptismal records), ‘trouwboeken’ (marriage records), ‘begraafboeken’ (burial records) or any of the other records that are available.

Emigration from Gelderland

During the middle of the nineteenth century, poor crops, a growing population and the need for religious freedom caused many people in Gelderland to consider emigrating. Many of them did. Most of the people who emigrated from Gelderland ended up in Michigan, Wisconsin and New York. At the end of the 19th century, another emigration wave hit. People tended to emigrate to the same destinations as the generation before them.

Online images

There are a few online resources for images of Gelderland:

  • Gelderland in beeld (Gelderland in the picture). This is an image database which mainly consists of historical postcards. Select ‘Zoek'< and then select the town you’re looking for from the ‘Kies een plaats’ list. Alternatively, use ‘Kaart’ from the menu to search by map. The ‘kaarten’ menu entry features maps of Gelderland.
  • Kastelen in beeld (castles in the picture). The website works the same as Gelderland in beeld but has photographs of castles instead of postcards.
  • Gelderland provincial atlas 1865-1870. This atlas contains a map of the entire province as well as maps of all the municipalities.


About Yvette Hoitink

Yvette Hoitink, CG® is a board-certified genealogist in the Netherlands. She has been doing genealogy for almost 30 years. Her expertise is helping people from across the world find their ancestors in the Netherlands. Read about Yvette's professional genealogy services.


  1. Linda Van Immerzeel says

    looking for information on gerrit jan nijenhuis- died1782 in zutphen, married to hendrika barmentloo in 1770

  2. Keith Kooistra says

    Many emigrants from Gelderland, especially the Aalten area, settled in northwest Iowa especially Sioux County. My ancestors who immigrated include Wesselink and Sandbulte.

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