Dutch term – Grondwerker

A grondwerker (literally: ground worker) was a digger. Diggers could be employed by builders, to dig foundation trenches, or by canal builders. It was hard, low-paying work. … [Read more...]

Dutch term – Dienstmeid

A dienstmeid is a maid servant. The tasks of a dienstmeid depended on the wealth of the family, the presence of other servants or a housekeeper, and whether she worked on a farm or in the city. Tasks typically included cleaning, laundry, setting the fireplaces, etc. Richer households might hire a separate washing woman or cleaning lady, but in many households, this was all the task of one servant. On a farm, a dienstmeid would also be expected to milk the cows, take care of the other animals, … [Read more...]

Quick Tip – Find all Population Registers

As part of my Level-Up Challenge, I realized I had not completed the research into the population registers of my second great-grandparents, Hendrik Hoitink and Johanna Piek. I had one register only, showing them with their children, but had not bothered to find all of them from cradle to grave. Based on my assessment, that made my research into them a level 2 (vital statistics only). To level up, I needed to find the missing population registers. One of these registers, from the time they … [Read more...]

Dutch term – Dominee

A dominee is a minister, a protestant clergyman. The word comes from the Latin dominus which means "mister" or "lord." Dominees can be found since the reformation in the 1500s. Most of the north-western parts of the Netherlands became Dutch Reformed, while many of the south-eastern parts remained Catholic. Dominees can be found in different types of protestant churches, including Dutch Reformed churches, Christian Reformed churches, Mennonite churches, Anabaptist churches, and remonstrant … [Read more...]

Dutch term – Klerk

A klerk is a clerk, a civil servant. Sometimes you will see klerk ter secretarie, which means a clerk at the administrative office of the municipality. You will often find clerks acting as witnesses in civil registration records, especially birth and death records. The informant of a death or birth record needed to have personal knowledge of the birth or death, but there was no such requirement for witnesses. They were often people who happened to be at town hall, such as clerks, though in … [Read more...]

Dutch term – Onderwijzer

An onderwijzer was a teacher at a primary school. Appointments of teachers of public schools can often be found in the municipal administration or town records. Appointments of teachers of religious schools can often be found in the records of the church.   … [Read more...]

Dutch term – Kantklossen

Kantklossen is the art of making bobbin lace. It is made by twisting threads using bobbins. Pins hold the lace in place while it is being made. Bobbin lace took a lot of time to create and was expensive. Having clothes with bobbin lace was a sign of wealth and can be seen in many paintings and inventories of richer people. … [Read more...]

Dutch term – Chirurgijn

A chirurgijn is a barber or surgeon. In most towns most of the minor ailments were treated by a chirurgijn rather than a doctor with an academic educations. Chirurgijns learned their trade as apprentices. Larger cities had chirurgijnsgildes or surgeon guilds, that regulated entry to the trade and oversaw apprenticeships and master exams. Treatments provided by chirurgijns included blood letting, treatments of sores and skin conditions, and setting broken bones. They were also barbers who … [Read more...]

How to Find Your Dutch Ancestor’s Occupation

Do you want to know what your Dutch ancestor did for a living? Here are five different sources you can check to find out. Civil registration records The civil registration records of birth, marriage, and death will include the occupation of the adults in the records (parents, spouses, deceased). These records are available for the whole country since 1811, and since 1794/6 for parts of Limburg and Zeeland. Most of these records can be found online. Census records and population … [Read more...]

Dutch term – Pachter

A pachter is a tenant. Most farmers in the Netherlands were tenants who did not own their farms or land. You can sometimes find tenancy contracts in court records, notarial records, or family archives. Especially in earlier times, these contracts were often made without having an official record so it may be hard to find proof. See an example of two tenancy contracts from the 1700s. … [Read more...]