Five Ways to Identify Old Places Names in the Netherlands

When you come across a place of origin in a records, you may not be able to find that town on a modern map. Spellings and names changed. Here are five strategies to find out what place is meant. 1: Check contemporary maps You can look at a map from the period, like inĀ the world atlas by Blaeu from 1665. This shows you the names the towns had in the 1600s. Many people did not move that far so I start by looking at a map of the area where the record was created that mentioned the town. I widen … [Read more...]

Dutch term – Grens

A grens is a border. Municipal borders determined where a couple would register the birth of their child, where they were taxed, where they would apply for a permit. Judicial borders determined which court prosecuted a ciminal, granted a divorce, or appointed a guardian. Borders affected our ancestors' lives. My ancestor Arend Kastein moved across the street and tried to apply for a job as a policeman. But since that street happened to be the Dutch-German border, he needed to be … [Read more...]

Dutch term – Holland

One of the best-known Dutch terms is Holland. Unsurprisingly, it means "Holland." But Holland can refer to different things: Many people abroad useĀ Holland when they mean the country of the Netherlands. For a long time, the Netherlands used it in international communication. Even the Dutch themselves use it when they cheer on the national soccer team: "Hup, Holland, Hup!" [Go, Holland, go!] Dutch immigrants are often identified as being from "Holland" in records in other countries, for … [Read more...]

Quick tip – “Alhier” and “Elders” are not place names

Sometimes, you will encounter the term alhier and elders in a record to indicate a place of origin or residence. These are not place names, but mean "in this location" and "somewhere else," respectively. Hattip to Ellee Brooks who gave the "elders" tip in a comment. … [Read more...]

Dutch term – Elders

Elders means "somewhere else." You can encounter the term in church records, court records, or notarial records, to indicate that somebody is absent, or in a phrase like elders getrouwd [married somewhere else]. … [Read more...]

Quick Tip – Van der Aa’s Gazetteer

Van der Aa's Aardrijkskundig Woordenboek der Nederlanden or geographic dictionary of the Netherlands is a dictionary in 14 volumes that appeared between 1839 and 1854. It contains descriptions of all geographical names in the Netherlands. For cities, towns, and villages, it will give a description of its location, the population including the dominant religions, the main industry and occupations in a town, and any peculiarities Van der Aa found worth mentioning. This gazetteer can be helpful … [Read more...]

Dutch term – Alhier

Alhier means in this location, meaning the place where the record was created. You can often encounter the term in marriage records, where the bride and groom were from alhier. … [Read more...]

Ask Yvette – How to Record Place Names

Dutch Genealogy reader Linda had the following question: In my research, the locations for some births/deaths, etc. are confusing. I'm finding, "Lellens, Ten Boer, Groningen, Netherlands" or just "Ten Boer, Groningen, Netherlands". ALSO "Stedum, Loppersum, Groningen, Netherlands" or just "Loppersum, Groningen, Netherlands", and once, "Stedum, Groningen, Netherlands." Could you please address the correct way to list the locations of births/marriages/deaths? Ten Boer, Loppersum, and Lellens … [Read more...]

Quick Tip – Use “Netherlands” rather than Holland or NL

When recording Dutch place names in your genealogy program, use "Netherlands" rather than "Holland" or "NL." "Holland" is not the name of the country, but of a former province, now split into North-Holland and South-Holland. Some programs in the past tried to resolve Holland and ended up changing it to "Reusel-De Mierden, Noord-Brabant, Netherlands" since there is a street called Holland in that tiny village. It led to millions of corrupt trees. "NL" is sometimes used as an abbreviation … [Read more...]

Quick tip – Topotijdreis website

The website Topotijdreis [Topo Time Travel] allows you to view old topographical maps from 1815 to 2015 of the area where your ancestors lived. Not quite the same as an actual time machine, but it will have to do! You can zoom in on the map or search for places in the top right corner. Different zoom levels have different maps, so be sure to zoom in and out. The slider on the left allows you to select the year that you want to see a map for. You can also hit the play button in the top left … [Read more...]