Dutch term – Bakker and Bakkerij

A bakker is a baker, and a bakkerij is a bakery. Bread was and is a staple in the Dutch diet. The content and weight of loaves of bread was heavily regulated. If you have ancestors who were bakers, you may find them on lists of calibrated weights, or involved in court cases if their loaves were found to be too light or containing different … [Read more...]

Dutch term – Arbeider

An arbeider is a laborer. Sometimes, records will indicate the type of work they did, such as a boerenarbeider [farm laborer] or fabrieksarbeider [factory worker]. Most laborers were poor and did not own any real estate. Many were illiterate. … [Read more...]

Dutch term – Kruidenier

A kruidenier is a grocery (the shop) or grocer (the occupation). The word kruiden means spices, and reminds of the colonial origins of the word, when people would go to the kruidenier to buy pepper and nutmeg from the East Indies. Since the 1960s, most kruideniers have been replaced by supermarkets. … [Read more...]

Dutch term – Dijkwerker

A dijkwerker is a dike worker, somebody who creates and maintains dikes. In earlier times, people in a community that was protected by a dike would be required to help maintain the dike. Later, this was changed to a tax that paid professional dike workers to maintain the dikes. Taxes still pay for the upkeep of the dikes today. … [Read more...]

Dutch term – Veldwachter

A veldwachter was a police constable. In 1858, a national police force was established in addition to the municipal constabulary. From that period onwards, you will find a difference between a gemeenteveldwachter (municipal constable) and rijksveldwachter (national constable). Appointments of national constables can be found in the … [Read more...]

Dutch term – Handelaar

A handelaar was a trader. Handelaren could mostly be found in cities, not villages, and were often quite well-to-do. Sometimes, specific words were used to show what people were trading in: a graanhandelaar traded in grain, a fietsenhandelaar traded in bicycles, and a handelaar in koloniale waren traded in colonial goods. You can also use … [Read more...]

Seven Ways to Find Your Dutch Ancestor’s Occupation

Finding your ancestor's occupation is a great way to learn more about his life and can be a gateway to finding more records. Here are six different ways you can find out what your Dutch ancestors did for a living. 1: Civil registration records If your ancestor lived in the Netherlands after 1811, you should be able to find your ancestor in … [Read more...]

Dutch term – Postbode

A postbode is a mail man. For large parts of the 1800s and 1900s, the government controlled the delivery of the mail and mail men were civil servants. You can find their personnel and pension records at the Nationaal Archief in The Hague. … [Read more...]

Dutch term – Visser

A visser is a fisherman. Fishing was a common occupation in the coastal towns of the Netherlands, including those surrounding the Zuiderzee (now: IJsselmeer). Willem Beukels, a fisherman from Biervliet in Zeeland, invented the technique of gibbing herring, which allowed Dutch fishermen to remain at sea for longer periods of time before the fish … [Read more...]

Quick tip – Occupations ran in the family

Occupations often ran in the family. The eldest son usually inherited the father's business, and would step in his father's footsteps. Guilds often had friendly terms for children of members, with reduced fees for apprenticeships and membership. Even younger sons who could not take over their father's business often found similar work. The son of a … [Read more...]