Dutch term – Roepnaam

A roepnaam is a call name. Roepnamen were often derivatives of the official name. For example, these were the call names of my grandparents: Hendrik Hoitink, known as Henk Gesiena Wilhelmina Woordes, known as Mien, a diminutive of Wilhelmina. Johannes Marijnissen, known as Jan. Catharina Flooren, known as Toos. Catharina was shortened to Cato, which became Toos (pronounced "toes") in some southern parts of the Netherlands. … [Read more...]

Quick tip – Are you Searching for the Right Name?

There can be different reasons why you can't find the person you're looking for. Perhaps they were from a different town, or the record you need doesn't survive. But they could be hiding under a different name. Before the introduction of the civil registration (1811 in most parts of the Netherlands), there was no requirement for a hereditary surname. People could be using different surnames in different records: They could use a patronymic, named after their father's first name. The … [Read more...]

Eight Dutch Naming Patterns to Watch Out For

Understanding how Dutch people named their children or themselves will help you solve your family mysteries. Here are eight Dutch naming patterns to watch out for. Naming children after grandparents Many Dutch children were named after their grandparents, often in a specific order: the first son after the paternal grandfather, second son after the maternal grandfather, first daughter after maternal grandmother, second daughter after paternal grandmother. After the grandparents were named, … [Read more...]

Quick Tip – Unusual Name or Transcription Error?

In my tree, I had one set of triplets: Gemma, Aeltjen, and Stijntjen, daughter of Jan Mengers. They were baptized in the Dutch Reformed Church of Winterswijk on 14 March 1702. I first learned about them in the transcribed records that I bought as a teenager and was excited about the special find. I descend from Aeltjen. I haven't been researching this line for a while, but the other day there was a social media post about twins, triplets, and other multiple births, and I shared my triplet … [Read more...]

Quick Tip – Names are Different in Latin

If your family was Roman Catholic, their church records will be in Latin. These records used the Latin version of names. Since Dutch search engines only find exact matches, you will need to search for these Latin names or use wildcards. For example, my ancestor Jan Smulders appeared in Catholic records as Joannes. His father Hendrik is called Henricus in Latin. Searching for "Jan Smulders" would not have found his baptismal record, but J* Smulders would have. Even initials can change though; … [Read more...]

Quick Tip – Unexpected Nicknames

My grandmother's official name was Catharina Flooren, but she was known as "Toos." That's a common derivative of Catharina, which came about via Catharina > Cato > Toos. Other examples of nicknames that  might seem surprising are Mees for Bartholomeus, Elen for Aleida, and Nel for Petronella or Cornelia. Especially before the introduction of the civil registration, you can find people in records under different variations of their names. To find out other forms of a name, you can … [Read more...]

Quick Tip – Is that Dutch Name Male or Female?

If you're not Dutch, you may wonder if a first name is male or female. You can consult the First Name Database to search for the name. It will give you statistics on how many men ("m") and women ("v") had that name in the past 100 years. You can see a graph that shows the popularity of the name over time. You can even click "verspreiding" to see the provinces where the name is most popular. Yvette is predominantly a female name, which was the most popular in the 1970s. … [Read more...]

Open data case study: Changing names in Winterswijk

The Gelders Archief just published many of their genealogical indexes as open data. This allows everyone to download the indexes and re-use them. Being a bit of a geek, I could not resist downloading some of the sets for Winterswijk to see what I could do with them. Winterswijk is the town where my father was born, and most of his ancestors to0, and I have been working on a one-place-study of Winterswijk for over twenty years. I thought it would be fun to use Excel and see how Winterswijk … [Read more...]

Quick tip: The first of same-named siblings probably died young

If you see multiple siblings with the same name, the first one probably died before the next one was born. Dutch parents typically named their children after relatives. By giving the new child the name of the deceased sibling, both the deceased sibling and the relative that that sibling had been named after were commemorated. There is one exception: If both grandfathers or grandmothers had the same name, in rare cases they are both named after, leading to two children of the same parents with … [Read more...]

Quick tip: naming patterns

Most Dutch parents followed a strict pattern when naming their children: the first son was named after the paternal grandfather, the second son after the maternal grandfather; the first daughter was named after the maternal grandmother and the second daughter after the paternal grandmother. When you find a source that lists children in their birth order, this could be a big clue about the names of their grandparents. Even Dutch immigrants usually followed this pattern so the names of children … [Read more...]