Dutch term – Lijkschouwing

Lijkschouwing literally means corpse-assessment. It is the term for the assesment by a doctor after a person died, to determine whether the person died of natural known causes, natural unknown causes, or unnatural causes. This is typically done by the doctor treating the patient or the doctor who was on call when the patient died. If unnatural causes are suspected, the doctor will inform the municipal coroner and an autopsy is usually performed.

This is how it is under the current law (1991). If you find a record of lijkschouwing in historical records, that usually points to a death of unnatural causes. Such records are sometimes found in town records, like the correspondence of the municipality. In most cases, these records have not been preserved and are not available to researchers.

a coffin covered by flowers is surrounded by a group of mourners in black attire

Burial of Gerrit Jan Hoitink, 1942. Author’s private collection

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. Kaythegardener says

    Congratulations on your new degree, Yvette!! You really put your downtime during Covid to a good use!!

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