Review: Dutch Roots by Rob van Drie

Dutch Roots: Finding your ancestors in the Netherlands is a book written by one of the best-known genealogy educators in the Netherlands, Rob van Drie. Rob’s experience shows in this 190-page book, that contains a comprehensive overview of the most important sources for genealogical research in the Netherlands. It is the first book about Dutch genealogy that is published in English.

Dutch Roots coverContents

The chapter titles are:

  1. Basic information
  2. Emigration
  3. Civil registration
  4. Population registration
  5. Church records
  6. Dutch names
  7. Notarial records
  8. Court records
  9. Migration records
  10. Tax records
  11. Military records
  12. Coats of arms
  13. Literature on Dutch History
  14. Vocabulary


As can be seen from these titles, records take center stage in this book. All major classes of records are discussed in a clear style that explain the context of the source and the type of information you can find in them. Well-chosen colorful illustrations support the text by showing the records, screenshots of online resources or historical images. The enormous wealth of potential information out there jumps off the page and makes you want to drive to the nearest archive and start looking for these records.

The chapter on names, in the middle of the book, deserves to be read as one of the first. It gives a great historical overview of the origins of first and last names in the Netherlands and discusses regional differences and naming patterns. The vocabulary list gives translations for common Dutch terms. A subject index would have made the book even more useful.

No how-to manual

Since this is an English book, most of its readers probably will not be able to speak Dutch or visit archives in the Netherlands. The book doesn’t make any allowances for this and treats each record like the readers will be able to understand it. For example, the chapter about court records explains the intricacies of the Dutch legal system and record keeping, but that is not going to help you find your ancestors if you cannot understand what the records say, even if you were able to access a microfilmed copy at a Family History Library. The one page with Dutch letter forms is not enough to be able to read the old handwriting, or understand what you read if you don’t speak the language.

Typical problems that descendants of Dutch immigrants face, like finding the place of origin and making the connection between the immigrant and Dutch records, are not discussed. The book assumes you already have enough information to start research in the Netherlands. It is not a how-to manual that shows you how to solve brick walls or when to use a particular source.  

These few shortcomings do not detract from the value of the book as a comprehensive source guide to Dutch records. Knowing about the types of records that exist is useful even if you cannot access or understand the records yourself since you can ask someone to help you find them. I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in finding their Dutch ancestors.

Overall rating: 4 Stars

Book details

Rob van Drie, Dutch Roots. Finding your ancestors in the Netherlands (Centraal Bureau voor Genealogie: Den Haag, 2012), ISBN 978-90-5802-088-8.

Paperback: Full-color, 190 pages. € 19.50 without shipping, € 25 including shipping in the EU or € 30 including world-wide shipping . Available from the Centraal Bureau voor Genealogie.

Kindle: Full-color. $24.20. Available from

I know Rob van Drie personally. He was the editor of the book Internet bij Stamboomonderzoek [Internet Genealogy] that I wrote together with Jeroen van Luin and that was published by the Centraal Bureau voor Genealogie where Rob works. Rob also interviewed me for a television series about genealogy.
The links to Amazon are affiliate links, which means I get a small commission for any purchases you make after following the link. The proceeds are used to maintain this website.
The prices for the paperback and Kindle were the prices listed on 10 March 2014 and may have changed since then.
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. Brenda Leyndyke says:

    Thank you Yvette for the review. I have been considering buying this book and now I know it will be well worth it.

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