Quick tip – Not many records on passengers passing through Rotterdam

If you've been watching Who Do You Think You Are? in the US, you may have noticed that both Josh Groban and Angie Harmon had ancestors who left Europe via Rotterdam. Rotterdam has been one of the most important harbors in the world for centuries. Since the 17th century, it has been the final port of departure for millions of emigrants. These people came from all over western Europe. Many people ask me if I can find records about their ancestors who left via Rotterdam. Unfortunately, most … [Read more...]

The Josh Groban episode – the Dutch part

A couple of months ago, I was asked by the producers of the US version of Who Do You Think You Are? to help with the final leg of Josh Groban's journey to uncover the story of his ancestor Johann Jacob Zimmermann. They had found out in Germany that Zimmermann came to Rotterdam, the Netherlands, on his way to Pennsylvania, and died around the time of departure in August or September 1693. Could I please help find out where he was buried? Wait, let me think. You betcha! Searching for the … [Read more...]

5 lessons we can learn from Who Do You Think You Are?

In the US, the new series of the TV show Who Do You Think You Are? was just announced. I am a big fan of the show. I watch three different series: the original UK version, the US version and the Dutch version ("Verborgen Verleden"). Although they all share the same basic format, it is interesting to see the differences. The US version is more about the human interest, the UK version is more about the historical context and the Dutch version often seems to try to cram as many stories into one … [Read more...]