Quirks of Contemporary Indexes

If you're going through tax records or court records, you might get lucky and find a contemporary (hand-written) index in the front or the back. These indexes may have some quirks: They may be by first name, not last name. This particularly occurs in regions where people did not all use hereditary surnames but used patronymics or farm names. They may be grouped by the first letter only, not strictly alphabetical. Within each letter, the entries would then be in page order. So Andries on … [Read more...]

Quick tip – Is that an every-name index?

Not all indexes include everybody in the record. Examples of indexes that miss people are: Indexes of baptisms, that include the child and parents but not the witnesses Indexes of deeds, that only index the grantor but not the grantee, or list both the grantor and grantee, but not the neighbors mentioned in the record Indexes of wills, that only include the first testator, but not the spouse. Why indexes may be incomplete Indexing is time-consuming, and there's far more … [Read more...]

Dutch term – Klapper

A klapper is a finding aid, usually a physical book or binder with a name index. Klappers can often be found in reading rooms of archives. They are disappearing as they are being scanned or entered into databases. Finding out what klappers exist can help you create a research plan for a visit to an archive. Some archives have a catalog or research guide on their website that indicates what klappers they have. Usually, you can only find out in the reading room itself. There may be a list of … [Read more...]

Column – The Gap

Archives have the legal task to keep records in good, orderly and accessible condition. But what the Archiefwet [Archive Law] considers accessible does not always match users' expectations. In the most basic form of access, users can consult the records in the reading room. An increasing number of records can also be found online by clicking through to the scans from the finding aid. That research process is not much different from the paper situation, except you do not need to travel. Only a … [Read more...]

Quick tip – Indexes may have added information

The goal of an index is to provide an easy way to find the records. Creators of indexes will sometimes add information to make the records easier to find, even when that information is not in the original record. This can create problems if the information they added turns out to be incorrect or misleading. A recent query in the Dutch Genealogy Facebook group provides an example.  The Gelders Archief website has an index of baptismal records. One of the entries has a child with two names: … [Read more...]