Dutch term – Haaldode

A haaldode is a dead person that was retrieved. I have only ever seen the word used in Amsterdam records, but it may have been used elsewhere as well.

In Amsterdam, a lot of people were living in poverty by the end of the 1700s. People died in the streets or drowned in the canals. Their bodies were retrieved and brought for inspection to a hospital at the Overtoom. They were recorded in a special register of haaldoden. If their identity was unknown, the record would include a description of the deceased and the clothes he was wearing. Many people wore monogrammed clothes, and the monogram would be cut out and pinned to the register, in the hopes that family members who came to enquire after a loved one would recognize the fabric and be able to identify the body even after it had been buried.

Amsterdam kept separate registers of haaldoden from 1777 to 1811. They have been scanned and can be accessed at the Amsterdam City Archives website.

Entries in the haaldoden register


“Haaldoden, Gemeente Amsterdam Stadsarchief (https://archief.amsterdam/stukken/dood/haaldoden/index.nl.html : accessed 19 December 2017). Hattip to John Boeren for pointing me to this article.
About Yvette Hoitink

Yvette Hoitink, CG® is a professional genealogist in the Netherlands. She holds the Certified Genealogist credential from the Board for Certification of Genealogists and has a post-graduate certificate in Family and Local History from the University of Dundee. She has been doing genealogy for over 30 years and helps people from across the world find their ancestors in the Netherlands. Read about Yvette's professional genealogy services.

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