Quick tip – Follow up in other records

When we find our ancestor in one record, we can often use it as a stepping stone to finding other records. The record can be like a loose thread to unravel a greater yarn. Here are some examples: A marriage record may have a note in the margin about a divorce. It should name the court and date of the divorce. You can use this to find the … [Read more...]

Quick Tip – There’s Nothing Wrong With Speculation

When you are researching your ancestors, there is nothing wrong with speculation. Building and testing hypotheses is a great way to discover new evidence that may help you prove your case. Just don't confuse speculation with proof, and make sure to not spread speculative information without clearly labeling as such (or not at all, to prevent people … [Read more...]

Column – Fake News and Alternative Facts

You see it everywhere online: fake news. Sensational stories, written to draw attention and gain clicks for ads. Fake news about the presidential candidates may even have influenced the US elections. Even in genealogy, it is often the less reliable information that draws our attention. Complete family trees can be found online, but may not be … [Read more...]

Quick tip – Don’t go back too far too soon

When we go back in time, we often hit a brick wall for a person for whom we only know the name. Perhaps we find a marriage record that lists the father, or we find a name with a patronymic that suggests who the father was. It is very hard to find records if you only know a name. Often, names are not unique. There may be multiple people in the … [Read more...]

Quick tip – Apply Lessons Learned to Old Problems

The longer we do genealogy, the better we get. We'll learn about new sources and strategies that help us solve new problems that come across our paths. But we should not stop there: we should also periodically revisit our old problems and apply the lessons we have learned. Two years ago, I wrote an article about how to find the father of an … [Read more...]

How Taking Clients Made Me a Better Genealogist

I had been doing genealogy for over twenty years when I started taking paying clients. I had done pro bono work for friends, researching all over the Netherlands, but that was more in a coaching capacity and often did not require formal reporting. In the years since I started taking clients, my skills have grown. Here are five ways in which being a … [Read more...]

Ask Yvette – Dealing with Records Loss in World War II

To celebrate 1,000 likes of Dutch Genealogy Services on Facebook, likers were invited to ask a research question for a free consultation. Some could quickly be answered on Facebook. Eric Schmidt asked a question that some of you may struggle with as well, so I thought I'd answer it in more detail. Eric asked: For years this is my brick wall … [Read more...]

Record Analysis Example – Dutch Death Record

Learning how to analyze a record is one of the most valuable skills we need to learn as a genealogist. To give you an example of how this works, let's take a look at the death record of my second great-grandfather Gerrit Jan van Nijkerken. Abstract: Warnsveld, 10 March 1924. Marinus August George Schoute, 37, overseer, living here, and … [Read more...]

Differences between Genealogy in the Netherlands and the US

On Facebook, Linda Roos asked me about the differences between genealogy in the Netherlands and the United States. That topic warrants a longer reply than I gave her on Facebook, so here we go! 1: Quality of sources In the Netherlands, we have an abundance of high-quality sources. Since 1850, we have had the population register, recording who … [Read more...]

Quick tip – Mind the Gap

One of my clients hired me to help solve his brick wall. The marriage record indicated the ancestor was born in the same village as where he married. The client found two people by that name who were baptized there, but both married other people and could not be the person he was looking for. He was wondering if the ancestor could have come from … [Read more...]