Quick tip – Many people were convicted of crimes

In the nineteenth and early twentieth century, you may be surprised to find how many of your ancestors were convicted of a crime or misdemeanor by the courts, and how many had to serve a prison sentence. Many things for which the police would just give a ticket today were brought before the court. Poor people often received a (short) prison sentence instead of a fine, or would be sent to prison if they did not pay a fine. Some examples of crimes my poor ancestors were convicted of: … [Read more...]

Level 4 Checklist – Property ownership, military service, religion, criminal activity

A few months ago, I issued my Level-Up Challenge, challenging you to assess how complete your research is. By level 2, we know the names of our ancestors and where and when they were born, married and died and by level 3, we also have to know their occupations, places of residence, and their children and spouses. To reach level 4, we also need to know what property they owned, if they served in the military, what religion they were, and if they were involved in any criminal activities. In … [Read more...]

Quick tip – Was your ancestor in prison?

Too often, we think our ancestors were like us. We find it hard to imagine they would break the law and don't even look for prison records. However, lots of people got in trouble with the law; especially if they were poor. In the nineteenth and part of the twentieth century, if people could not pay a fine, they could end up in prison. … [Read more...]

Source – Secret Register of Released Prisoners

A source with an intriguing name is the "Geheim Register van Ontslagen Gevangen" or the Secret Register of Released Prisoners. This register was kept from 1882 to 1896 and included the photos, personal details, and overview of crimes of the prisoners who would be released in the upcoming month even though they were still considered dangerous. This included people who served multiple sentences, or who served a long sentence for a serious crime. … [Read more...]

Dutch term – Gevangene

A gevangene is a prisoner. Imprisonment as punishment became popular in the 1800s, after corporal punishment was largely abolished. For information about prisoners, see Source - Prison records. … [Read more...]

Dutch term – Inbrengregister

An inbrengregister is an admission register. Inbrengregisters can be found in the archives of institutions where people were housed, like prisons, orphanages or mental institutions. Inbrengregisters will usually give you the following information about an inmate: Name Place and date of birth Reason for admission Date of admission Date of departure. Sometimes, information about their time in the institution can be found in a notes column, or the register may include … [Read more...]

Dutch term – Dief

A dief is a thief. You may found out that your ancestor was a thief, or the victim of a thief, in newspapers, court records, prison records or police records. … [Read more...]

Dutch term – Gevangenis

A gevangenis is a prison. The modern prison system was introduced in 1811. Many people went to jail, often for petty crimes. Prison records can tell you if any of your ancestors ever went to jail. Read more about prison records. … [Read more...]

Finding collaborators in World War II

With the 70th anniversary of our liberation coming up next week, I thought I would discuss one of the most important record groups for research into World War II. During World War II, several Dutch citizens collaborated with the German occupation: some joined the National Socialist Movement (NSB), others betrayed Jews or were romantically involved with German soldiers. After the War was over, hundreds of thousands of Dutch citizens were prosecuted for collaboration or treason. If convicted, … [Read more...]

Source – Prison Records

Ironically, it's often the black sheep that bring the most color to our family trees. I love researching all the stories in my family, and prison records are a wonderful resource. History Before the French occupation (1795-1813), people were rarely imprisoned. Instead, criminals were hanged, banished, put in the pillory or sent to the work house. The modern system of prisons was introduced in 1811. In the 19th century, people were much more likely to be send to prison than today. Today, you … [Read more...]