Traditional Groningen dressGroningen is a province in the North-East of the Netherlands. On the east it borders on Germany, on the west on Friesland, on the south on Drenthe and on the north on the North Sea.

The capital of Groningen is also called Groningen, sometimes called Groningen stad (Groningen city) to make the distinction clear.

The largest towns in Groningen are:

  • Groningen
  • Hoogezand-Sappemeer
  • Veendam
  • Winschoten
  • Delfzijl

Genealogy in Groningen

Before 1811, most people in Groningen did not use any last names but used patronymics instead. If someone was called Bonne and his father was called Jan, he would be called Bonne Jans.

A rich source of information for Groningen before 1811 are the marriage contracts that were often drawn up. The marriage contracts often list a long list of relatives of the bride and groom te be. They can be found at the provincial archives, the Groninger Archieven. Some marriage contracts are available online at AlleGroningers.


The most important website for Groningen research is AlleGroningers. Contents include:

  • Civil Registration records of births, marriages, death since 1811
  • Church records of baptisms, marriages and burials before 1811
  • Marriage contracts before 1811
  • Population registers after 1850
  • Emigration registers after 1848
  • Death duties files after 1806

Emigration from Groningen

At the end of the 19th century, the crops were very poor in Groningen. That’s one of the reasons why many people emigrated to the United States. Most up them ended up around the Great Lakes, predominantly in Michigan.

Archives in Groningen

Check the Groningen section of the Digital Resources website for more information.

Other websites for Groningen genealogy


This article was first published in 2005 and last updated in 2023.
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. Mike Shults says

    I am looking for people with the last name of Barsema I had relatives come from Holland in 1881
    Anna and Lambert were married in Holland and had 2 children when the came to the USA Lanbert’s father was Cornelius Barsema and mother Nellie.

  2. Does the Reitenga family come from Groeningen?
    We primarily live in Michigan
    Mark Reitenga

    • Reitenga is not a name that still exists in the Netherlands. It may be an Americanization of a Dutch name like Reitinga or Reidinga. Those names occur in Friesland and Groningen. You will need to research your male line until you find your immigrant ancestor and then find him in Dutch records to really be certain where your family comes from.

      • Mark Reitenga says

        The name is always Reitenga
        On every US birth/death record website I have found
        Primarily brothers in the late 1800s
        Jacob John Charles. Douglas

  3. Chantelle says

    Hi, is the surname Van Greunen in anyway related to this city?

  4. Kally Juarez says

    I’m interested in learning more about my family who emigrated from the Netherlands to the US after WWII…I searched the site, but there’s so much information! My grandma’s name was Geertje Hofman (changed to Kay Kortstra in the US), and her husband was Ralph (Ralf?) Kortstra. Any advice on where to begin? Thank you in advance!

    • Dear Kally,
      If your ancestors were born after 1914, you won’t be able to find their records online because of the strict Dutch privacy laws. You could try ordering their birth records. If they were born before 1914, I recommend trying WieWasWie or any of the other Top 10 Dutch Genealogy websites.

    • Joslyn Erickson says

      Hi Kally, wondering if you had success in finding what you were looking for? My great-grandfather (by marriage not birth) was Ralph Kortstra (1924-1995) and I know he escaped a concentration camp in WWII. I know there is more of his life story but it’s in the US and I’m currently in Australia. Would love to know if you discovered more of the story. Thanks!

  5. Lori Vander Molen Smith says

    I am trying to find my Great-Grandmother’s grave. She died on 10 Jun 1893 in Scheemda, Groningen. Her husband and children immigrated to Michigan shortly after her death. Is there any way to find where she is buried?

  6. Louis Heidema says

    I have done a lot of work on my ancestry up the paternal side. At least eight generations are predominantly (almost exclusively) from the Groningen province (Kolham, Slochteren, Sharmer, Harkstede, etc.). All of my research shows that Heidema is a Frisian name. I know that Friesland once covered the area that Groningen now exists. However, Heidema supposedly means “from the heath lands”. I cannot find where these heath lands would have been in that area. All I can find now references the current provinces of Friesland and Drenthe. Where can I look for information on the land itself well prior to 1700?

    • S.Nijborg says

      I’m not sure of i can help you. But i live in Froombosch a village in Groningen. I’m married with Alie Heidema. She is a grant daughter of Wobbo Heidema. Wobbo’s brothers and sisters emigrated to America in 1900.

  7. Hi, I am trying to trace the name Kok back to Groningen Netherlands. I know the name goes back to Theodore Kok in 1844. Also, the name Flier. Please help. Thank you

  8. Larissa Van Groningen says

    I am trying to find the record of my great grandmother and great grandfather who were married in Holland. I only have their names. Johannes Van Groningen and Jansje Visser. THey immegrated here in the 10’s or 20’s I believe. I have tried searching them up on numerous Dutch websites and have found nothing. Any that can help would be great.

  9. Ruth Westerhuis says

    Need hints on how to break my brick wall please.
    Eppje Egges, Winschoten, married Berent Hindriks, Groningen, in Groningen 22 March 1756 (later assume the surname Westerhuis) both born circa 1730 marriage record has no parents listed any suggestions on how to get further back would be greatly appreciated.
    She also recorded as Eppien, Eppijn, Epje, – Eijgers,Egges van Dijk, Eppes van Dijk, Dijk, van Dijk
    He also recorded as Berend, – Hendriks,Westerhuis
    Ruth Westerhuis

    • Ronald L hughes says

      Ruth: My grandpa was named Sigtze “Samuel” (Cecil) Westerhouse (Westerhuis in the Netherlands). Born 1871 came to America when approx 12 yrs old. Settled in (near) Layfayette Indiana. Believe father was Thomas Pieters Westerhuis, Mother: Andrieske Wiersma (Other names: Pieter Tjepkes & Berendje Sytzes Hoornstra. Understood they (Westerhuis’s) took on name of the farmer they worked for during the Napolean years. Have been trying to locate others with name Westerhuis. Thanks.

  10. Will shaffer says

    How hard is it to get info from the late 1300’s. I have traced my line to a Derk shöffer born around 1380 in the groningen area.

    • Most records in the 1300s only cover a small portion of the population, mostly nobles and landholders. These records often focus on land and don’t typically name family relationships. Ancestors who were tenants, serfs, or tradesmen can normally not be found in those records. For this reason, few lines can be traced back that far.

  11. Rijskamp says

    I am trying to link two people:

    1) Name: Izaaks Jacobs Rijskamp
    Birth: ABT. 1748
    Groningen, Holland

    2) Name: Hendrick Freerks Rijskamp
    Birth: 16 MAR 1755
    (note: his father is Freek Hendriks, born ABT 1720)

    I suspect that Hendrick and Izaaks are cousins (or there is a slim chance they are brothers and Freek is the father of both).

    However, I can’t find any digitized records to support the connection as all records seem to disappear at this time.

    Any thoughts on where I can turn for records from this time?

    • If Freek was the father of both, Izaak’s patronymic would have been Freeks instead of Jacobs.
      Many Groningen church records and marriage contracts for this period are available via AlleGroningers. It is not always possible to prove family relationships using online records alone, in which case on-site research in court records in Groningen may be necessary.

    • Charlie Ryskamp says

      Deat Rijskamp cousin,
      I have been trying to link these two relatives for years. Please let me know if you have any new/additional information about them.

      I am a descendant from Hendrick Freeks Rijskamp (1755-1828)

      • Charly,

        You are a descendent of Hendrick Freerks Rijskamp (Snijder) and ???
        Your question about the relation between Isaak Jacobs and Hendrick Freerks is the same question for me.

        There must be a connection. But they are not brothers or next cousin. The father of Hendrick Freerks is Freerk Henrichs and his mother is Anje Jans (from Rohn = Roden)
        The parents of Isaak Jans are Jacob Jans and Ferdina Isaäks.
        BUTTTTT, sons of booth married two sisters (!!) and the father of the two girls is related with Sjabbe Jans Rijskamp who was a ‘herbergier and rechtsgeleerde’ in Ulrum.

        If you give me your email address perhaps we can exchange some genealogical results of the Rijskamp family.

        Btw, I’m a descendent of Isaak Jans Rijskamp.

        • Sorry,

          Isaak Jans must be Isaak Jacobs.

        • Charlie Ryskamp says

          Dear Cousin Irma,

          I am so glad you wrote to me. I am descended from Hendrik Freeks Rijskamp (1755-1828) and Giertje Wierks Bakker. My pedigree is Hendrik Freeks> Kornelis Hendriks> Hendrik Kornelis> Jacob Hendriks> Henry Jacob> Philip J> ME. I have been studying genealogy and my Rijskamp/Ryskamp family for many, many years. I have only been able to research my Dutch roots via the internet but I someday hope to travel to the Netherlands. I’m even studying Dutch!

          I would love to learn more about mijn familie uit Nederlands. My email address is I would also be interested to know if you know or are related to any male Rijskamps who are descended from Izaak Jacobs, we could have a dna test, like 23&Me, that might determine if we are really related. I already have my results on their site.

          I am also interested in find a posible origin of our family/families, and if they are connected to Joost Araienszoon Rijskamp (1570-1652) and how that lineage connects to us.

          I hope to hear from you soon.

          Tot ziens!

          Charlie Ryskamp
          Michigan/Florida USA

  12. Paul Daraghy says

    Mennoliena HAFSTEENGE was born 17 Jan 1891 in Niekerk; no father listed. Any advice on how/where to identify her birth father? Would there be any parish or court records on father and or support for the child up to the Mother’s marriage 3 years later. ? Thanks!

  13. paul daraghy says

    re my previous comment submitted earlier today–i just discovered your article at

    reading it now in detail.

    • Great that you found that article. For that time and place, the church council minutes would be the first place I’d look. And since it’s only a couple of generations ago, I’d also recommend autosomal DNA tests of the oldest generations of descendants willing to test. The name “Mennoliena” may also be a clue; if that’s not a family name it could indicate that the father was called “Menno.”

  14. Looking to find any information on Barend ter Meulen and Jakob ter Meulen from Groningen from the 1700s and and early family information prior to this time. Any resources that you can assist with would be wonderful. Thank you

  15. Sadie Gronigan says

    My last name is Gronigan and I am pretty sure it originated from Groningen. I was wondering if you had any records of the last name Gronigan.

  16. Karen young says

    I am trying to find out information Dirck Bensingh, born in Groningen in the early 1600s or late 1500s. He married Catalina Berck in 1625 in Amsterdam. She was the daughter of Samson Berch. Dirck died in Albany NY in 1659. Early NY documents indicate that he was from Groningen, but was a Dane or a Swede. My question is, we’re there a lot of danish people or Swedes who settled in Groningen in the late 1500s? Was Groningen part of Sweden or Denmark during this time? What was the economy like in Groningen during this period, were there many different people coming through? Was it a important commercial center or port in early 1660s? Thanks very much

    • Bensingh is a name that is typical for the eastern part of the Netherlands (Drenthe/Overijssel/Gelderland) or Westphalia in Germany. The name Dirck is also common in those areas. What is your source for him being a Swede or Dane? If you have not done so, I would recommend going back to the original records and seeing what they say. These New Netherland families often have centuries of speculation about them that makes it hard to separate thruth from theories.

  17. Greg Tjapkes says

    Aloha Yvette!

    My surname is Tjapkes, and I have paternal and maternal ancestors from Friesland and Groningen. I’m wondering if you have any information about the derivation or meaning of Tjapkes. I don’t know if it’s from patronymics, but it’s unlikely to have an easy translation like many Dutch names with De-, Van/Vander, etc.

    I went to, and found many Tjapkes’ often dating to mid-17th century. I’ve just never been able to find any origen of the name other than the region.

    btw – I’m a W. Michigan native transplanted to the warmer climate of Hawaii.

    • Irma Rijskamp says


      Tjapke is a first name.
      So when a Tjapke became a father, than his child will be a ‘Jan Trapjes’ or an ‘Antje Tjapkes’.
      Tjapkes means ‘son or daughter of Tjapke’.



  18. I wonder what you know about a children’s home or adoption system in 1880s Winschotten. I was told from a story passed down that my ancestor Nicolas E. Achttien Sr. was found on a doorstep in the netherlands. What websites should I look into to figure out this kind of mistery? He was raised by the Achttiens.

    • If he was a foundling, the birth record would indicate that. If there were any legal changes, like being adopted or getting a name changed, it would be noted in the margins of the birth certificate.

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