Quirks of Contemporary Indexes

If you’re going through tax records or court records, you might get lucky and find a contemporary (hand-written) index in the front or the back. These indexes may have some quirks:

  • They may be by first name, not last name. This particularly occurs in regions where people did not all use hereditary surnames but used patronymics or farm names.
  • They may be grouped by the first letter only, not strictly alphabetical. Within each letter, the entries would then be in page order. So Andries on p. 1 would be before Abraham on p. 2.
  • They may refer to the folio number, rather than page numbers. With folio numbering, only the right page is numbered. The right page is marked with an r (or without a mark) while the next (reverse) side is marked with a v for “verso,” the Latin for “reverse.” Sometimes they leave off the v so you may have to turn the page if you can’t find the entry.
  • Indexes may only index the main parties. The actual record may have other names, like the purchaser, the neighbors, the other sellers, etc.
  • In the case where the parties are heirs, widows, or children, they may be indexed under the man’s/father’s name.
  • Children might be indexed under the “k” for “kinderen” [children], widows under the “w” for “weduwe” and heirs under the “e” for “erfgenamen.” In the example below, such cases were indexed under “d” for “de weduwe” [the widow], “de kinderen” [the children], and “de erfgenamen” [the heirs]. If you can’t find your person, browse the whole index.

Index with widows and children indexed under “D”

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.

Leave comment