Quick tip – Finding the Current Name of an Old Place

When reading old records, you will often come across place names that cannot be found on a modern map. The spelling or the entire name may have changed. For example, the capital of Indonesia, Jakarta, was known as Batavia under Dutch rule.

view of Batavia

View of Batavia, 1665. Credits: Johannes Vingboons, collection Nationaal Archief

Former Amsterdam City Archivist Simon Hart researched the places of origin that were mentioned in the Amsterdam marriage records. He compiled a list of these places and their old spellings, and the probable place that it refers to.

Some examples:

  • “Heemste” can refer to Heemstede in Zuid-Holland or Heemste in Friesland. 
  • “Kantelbergh” refers to Canterbury, England.
  • “Nieuw Amsterdam” refers to New York City, New York.
  • “Sint Ander” refers to Santander in Spain.
  • “Rijssel” refers to Lille, France.

The list compiled by Simon Hart can be downloaded as a PDF from the Amsterdam City Archives website (right side of the page).

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.


  1. Cheryl (Vanden Eynden) Jones says

    Oh wow! Thank you so much for directing me to the PDF of old city names that have changed & where they’re located today! I’ve run into this problem so many times & I always like to make a note of the “modern day” location for life events, if possible, but never knew how to figure it out. This is a huge help to me! You’ve always given me the best information in this blog!

  2. Michaël Boers says

    Heemstede is in North Holland, not South, although close to the border

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