How Civil Registration Records were Created

If you are researching nineteenth and twentieth century Dutch ancestors, the civil registration records of births, marriages and deaths are among the first sources you should consult. Understanding how these records were created will help you assess their reliability. Birth records When the civil registration was introduced nation-wide in 1811, the law required that baby be presented at town hall, to make sure that a birth actually took place. Since this could be dangerous to the child, … [Read more...]

Quick tip – Deaths are recorded in the place of residence

If a person died in a different location than where he lived, the civil registration of his place of residence would also record his death. Often, they would receive a copy of the death record that was created in the place of death, and would then record that copy in their own death registers. This was also done after World War II, to record all the Dutch Jews who were murdered in Eastern Europe. Sometimes it took many years to find out where and when a person died, so many towns have death … [Read more...]

Dutch term – Overlijdensakte

An overlijdensakte is a death record. In most of the Netherlands, deaths have been recorded in death records of the civil registration since 1811. Before that, burial records kept by the churches are usually the best information available for finding out when someone died. Read more about death records. … [Read more...]

Dutch term – Dood

The word Dood means dead or deceased. Information about deaths can be found in death records (after 1811) or burial records (before 1811). In most cases, it will not be possible to find a cause of death. … [Read more...]

How to obtain certified copies of birth, marriage or death records from the Netherlands

I often receive requests by people who need to obtain official certificates of Dutch birth, marriage or death records for legal purposes. Obtaining certified copies is not a service I provide, so I will give you the instructions on how to do this yourself. Reasons for needing a certified copy There may be several reasons why you need an official extract of a birth, marriage or death record in the Netherlands, for example: You were born in the Netherlands and need proof of your birth in … [Read more...]

Dutch term – Begrafenis

A begrafenis is a burial. Before 1811, the church records of burials are often the best source for the burial date. Some registers include the death date as well. After 1811, death records of the civil registration show when a person died, but they do not contain information about the burial. That information can sometimes be found in family announcements in newspapers or in the burial administration of the churches. … [Read more...]

Source: Family announcements

In the Netherlands, there has never been a tradition of writing biographical obituaries like you see in countries like the United States. Instead, "familieberichten" [family announcements] simply announce the death of a person. In the 19th century, only more affluent people had a familiebericht placed in the paper. It was usually very short and only signed by the closest relative, typically the spouse or eldest son. In the 20th century, the announcements became a bit more informative and … [Read more...]

Dutch term – levenloos

Levenloos literally means "lifeless" and is used to refer to stillborn children. In death records, you will often read "levenloze dochter" [stillborn daughter], "levenloze zoon" [stillborn son] or "levenloos kind" [stillborn child]. Since 1811, death records were created for stillborn children (children born after a pregnancy of more than six months). They did not have birth records, as these were reserved for children that were born alive. If a child died before the birth record was created, … [Read more...]

How to find the cause of death

Several people have asked me how they can find out how their ancestors died. Unfortunately, records that list cause of death are routinely destroyed, so most often it will not be possible to find the cause of death. … [Read more...]

Quick tip: know the witnesses

Understanding who the witnesses in records were can help you find your ancestors. Baptism witnesses were usually chosen from the immediate family, often from siblings of the parents. Witnesses or informants for death records, on the other hand, were often neighbors. Knowing these customs can help you understand who these people were and how they fit into the picture you're creating about your ancestor. … [Read more...]