Overijssel Research Guide

Traditional Overijssel dressOverijssel is a province in the east of the Netherlands. It borders on Germany in the east, Drenthe and Friesland in the north, Gelderland to the south and Flevoland and Gelderland to the west.

The capital city of Overijssel is Zwolle. The largest towns are:

  • Enschede
  • Almelo
  • Hengelo
  • Oldenzaal
  • Deventer


In the late 18th century, Overijssel became famous for its textiles. English industrialists came to Overijssel and brought new technologies with them. The eastern part of the province, Twente, became an important production center for textiles. This continued well into the 20th century when Enschede and the neighboring German region were attracting many new laborers.

Names in Overijssel

In terms of naming traditions, Overijssel is split into two parts. The eastern part, Twente, used the system of farm names before the introduction of the civil registration. The western part, consisting of Salland and Vollenhove, used patronymics mostly although a clear line cannot be drawn between the regions.

Emigration from Overijssel

People from Overijssel have always migrated across the border into Germany. In the middle of the nineteenth century, many members of the Afgescheiden (Secession) church followed Albertus van Raalte and Anthony Brummelkamp’s advise to emigrate to the United States. Most of them ended up in Michigan. Another emigration wave followed at the end of the nineteenth century. The Overijssel Historical Center has compiled a database of Overijssel emigrants that is available via Archieven.nl.

Archives in Overijssel

The Historical Center Overijssel in Zwolle keeps the records for the province of Overijssel and the municipality of Zwolle. This includes the civil registration records for the whole province, court records, and provincial government records.

Other municipalities in Overijssel keep their records in local or regional archives.

Online images


About Yvette Hoitink

Yvette Hoitink, CG®, QG™ 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 diploma 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.


  1. Nancy Renner says

    I am seeking information on my 11th Great Grandparents Claas (Claes or Claus) Janse Stavast from Kuijnder, Overijssel, Netherlands. They migrated to America around 1655. I can not find a record on Stavast’s parents. Any help would be deeply appreciated. Thank you

    • “Kuijnder” is an old spelling of Kuinre. Kuinre church start after your family already left, so you will have to use other records. Town records start in 1594, but are only available at the Steenwijkerland municipal archives, not online. Early court records for Kuinre are in the court of Vollenhove, kept Historisch Centrum Overijssel in Zwolle. The early records for Kuinre are scarce, so it may not be possible to prove who the parents of Claas were even if you were able to access the old records. I would estimate that it would take several days of on-site research to have a decent chance of finding out more about them.

  2. Kathleen Petersberger says

    My 2nd great-grandfather left Zwolle in 1847, according to his obituary. He emigrated to Holland, Michigan, US, as part of the VanRaalte party. Bartelt (Barteld) Slagh, whose father was named the same, was a shipbuilder. The senior Barteld Slagh (1825-1910) married Hendricka Smit (1832-1910). Both Barteld Senior and his wife Hendricka are buried in Holland, MI, in the Pilgrim Home Cemetery. I have found that Barteld Sr was son of Jan Slagh (1793-1880) and Elisabeth Thijsens (spelling?)(1795-1874). I don’t know how far back any other records would go.

  3. Hello Yvette. I wondered if you could explain to me how could possibly have 47% England, Wales and Northwestern Europe and only 39% Germanic Europe ethnicity in my tree. I do nor have any English sounding names in my tree.The Germanic Europe I can understand but not the English. We came from Twente and do have some Prussian ancestry. I hope you can understand this.
    Thanks Yvette.
    Elly Ferguson

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