Looking back on 2013

The end of the year is fast approaching. And what a year it has been!

One of my first highlights of the year was attending Who Do You Think You Are Live in London in February. I was able to stay with an American friend/cousin who was living in the UK at the time. I had not seen her in person since 1997 and was so happy to see her again and finally get to meet her two children. Attending Who Do You Think You Are also gave me the opportunity to meet some great genealogists from around the world. I just booked my flight to go there again next year, so I hope to see some of you there!

Who Do You Think You Are Live in 2013

Who Do You Think You Are Live in 2013

February was also when I went ‘on the clock’ to become a Certified Genealogist. I submitted my initial application and now have a year to finish a portfolio demonstrating my skills at doing genealogy. The Board for Certification of Genealogists is an international organization that certifies genealogists that meet their high standards. Most Board-Certified Genealogists come from North America, where the certification is well-known and recognized as a hallmark for quality. There are only three Board-Certified Genealogists in Europe, none in the Netherlands. I hope to become the first!

My genealogy business also expanded. I welcomed new clients from Australia, Canada, the Netherlands, South Africa and the United States and continued projects for several existing clients. Some of the highlights:

  • Uniting a woman in her 80s with her half-brother who did not even know she existed but was really happy to learn about her.
  • Having tea in a Winterswijk farm with a client whose ancestors left that farm in 1700s. The farm name ‘stuck’ so the client’s last name was the same name as the farm. I traced his male line back to the farm and then was his tour guide to show him all the places where his ancestors lived and worshiped.
  • Coaching several Dutch genealogists to overcome their brick walls.
  • Confirming the identity of the biological father of an adoptee, who only knew a garbled version of his name and the name of the ship he worked on.
  • Finding out that one client’s ancestors owned no less than 20 houses, and then locating each of those houses. Some of these houses still exist, and the client will come to the Netherlands next year so I can show her where they were.
  • Finding the marriage record in the (old) Netherlands of a New Netherland ancestor of one of my clients, confirming his identity and opening up a range of research possibilities on this side of the ocean which we will pursue next year.
  • Doing research on the Zeeland ancestors of a client, who then went on to write a series of blog posts about my findings.
Person with a castle instead of a head

“Memory palace” – with your head in the archives

Besides running my genealogy business, I also work part-time at the National Archives in The Hague, where I am a project manager in the IT department. This year, my largest project was to arrange for all the hard- and software needed for our new reading room and exhibition space. This ranged from creating custom multimedia exhibits for the opening exhibition ‘Memory Palace’ and providing wifi access to creating software for the reading rooms so users could see that the records they had ordered were ready to be picked up. There were a lot of people involved in this project, from several different departments within the National Archives and several different suppliers. We all worked very hard to make it a success, and were happy with the results, that were ready in time for the grand opening. The new reading rooms were opened by King Willem-Alexander in October, and I had the honor of being introduced to him.

This year also marked the 20th anniversary of my website. I started it in 1993, when I studied Computer Science at the University of Twente. In the middle of this year, I created a new version of this website and set up a new publishing schedule with two short and one longer article per week. I also started the newsletter, for which I’ve received some very nice feedback. The most viewed posts of this year were:

  1. History of the Phoenix disaster
  2. Population Registers
  3. Top 10 most common Dutch surnames
  4. English versions of Dutch last names
  5. Using birth records (geboorteaktes) to find your Dutch ancestors (also the article that received the most comments)
  6. Prefixes in surnames
  7. English versions of Dutch first names
  8. Friesland
  9. Civil Registration
  10. Types of archives

It is interesting to see that almost all of these articles are over five years old. The only article that I wrote this year is the “Top 10 most common Dutch surnames.” One of my own favorite features of the new version is that visitors can now comment on articles. It has been very inspiring to read what visitors think about these topics and try to help them with their questions.

So what were your highlights in 2013? What amazing discoveries did you make?

About Yvette Hoitink

Yvette Hoitink is a professional genealogist in the Netherlands. She has been doing genealogy for almost 25 years. Her expertise is helping people from across the world find their ancestors in the Netherlands. Read about Yvette's professional genealogy services.


  1. Derrell Oakley Teat says:

    Hello Yvette,
    I’m interested in whether NL has any show/fair such as WDYTYA London does?
    Have volunteered with the FamilyTreedna stand for the past 6 years and helped introduce DNA testing at “Back to our Past” in Dublin Ireland last October.

    Im getting close to retirement and want to introduce DNA testing to as many people before I do.
    I’ve been genealogist for many years, started out the old fashion way, visting libraries, archives, and mailing letters.
    Started being active in DNA because of my father family driving me nuts trying to connect to other Oakley’s. Have been very active in DNA testing for the past 10 years and now admin 7 DNA projects.

    Any information that you can provide is greatly appreciated,
    Derrell, a female

    • Hi Derrell,
      The Netherlands does not have fairs on the scale of WDYTYA Live. There will be a fair in Leiden later this year, called the Famillement. This event was first held two years ago in Maastricht, and was very busy but a lot smaller than WDYTYA Live. I estimate that there were about 30-50 stands. This year there will be at least 55, including myself. If you want to participate, you can contact the organization by using the email address at the bottom of the contact page.

      • Derrell says:

        Yvette, We met in Scotland if I’m not mistaken last year and WDYTYA 2014. Im curious if there have been anymore additions to genealogy shows in The Netherlands since we last talked?

        Im still talking with FTDNA about attending the next Famillement Thursday 2 June 2016 in Utrecht from 11:00-19:00.
        Its difficult to justify the cost for one day…Is there anything else in the country or a close by country around that time period?

        Im trying so hard to get there, my friend Nora Probasco wants to come too.

        Looking forward to talking with you,

        • Hi Derrell,
          Nice to hear from you again! The Famillement is the only major genealogy event that I know of around that time. There’s an annual genealogical event of the National Genealogical Society (NGV) but that’s usually in the third week of May, and some regional fairs but these are usually in September/October. June is a relatively slow period genealogy-wise. As we sometimes jokingly say, genealogists only return from the camping when the “R” is back in the month (September – April).

          The Central Bureau for Genealogy organizes a monthly open reception with a speaker at the last Tuesday of each month. You could contact them (http://www.cbg.nl) to ask if they would be interested in doing a DNA theme on Tuesday 31 May.

          I don’t know about events in Belgium or Germany.

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