Quick tip – Research living people first

When you are just starting researching your family history, focus on the living people first. They have the stories that you won’t find in records. The dead will keep! And if you’re lucky, they may even be willing to take a DNA test. Start with the oldest generations, but do not forget to capture the stories of the younger generations too.

I had been doing genealogy for over ten years when my grandmother asked me if I had ever found out when her aunt died. She had last heard from her more than forty years ago. I researched the aunt, and found out she had died just two years previously, age 99. We called the nursing home where she had been and they told us she had been sharp to the end and loved to talk to family. Somehow, my grandmother had lost contact with her aunt, and did not realize she was still around. Such a missed opportunity, since we easily could have visited her.

Three girls

Grandmother (left) with her sister and one of her aunts

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. Suzanne Thompson says

    Hi Mrs Yvette Hoitink
    I am currently doing reserch on my family tree my great grandmothers name was Dinah Metzker (married name Biddlecombe) born 1909 -deceased
    Her father was Johannes Frederick Mezker Born 1868 Rotterdam, holland died 4 Mar 1933 Johannesburg south africa.
    All of that family is dead as far as I know so Iv hit a wall I cant find any records and have no idea where to start.

    any assistance or recomendations would be much appreciated

    • Dan Heisler says

      I bumped into your message in some genealogy wanderings and on a lark took a quick search for records in familysearch.org. I did find the Death Certificate for Johannes Frederick Mezker with dates you provided and Dinah Biddlecombe listed as child. I don’t way to attached the downloaded document here but if you email me I can send you the document.

      • Suzanne Thompson says

        Thank you I think I found the same was looking for the fathers certificate but am not sure where to look

    • Dan Heisler says

      My email address is dheisler123@gmail.com

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