Quick tip – the meaning of Holland

If you see “Holland” in a published source, like a book or an online tree, chances are that the person means the country of the Netherlands.

If you see “Holland” in a Dutch record prior to 1840, Holland refers to the province by that name, in the west of the Netherlands. In 1840, the province was split into Noord-Holland and Zuid-Holland.

As the most prosperous province and the center of international trade, the province overshadowed the other provinces; so much so that its name became synonymous with the country. Kind of like people calling Great-Britain “England.”

Next time you find a source that says your ancestor is from “Holland,” check if they meant the province or the country, so you know where to look.

Map of Holland (the province). Nicolaas Visscher, 1682 (public domain)

Map of Holland (the province), with the north to the right. Nicolaas Visscher, 1682 (public domain)

About Yvette Hoitink

Yvette Hoitink, CG® is a professional genealogist in the Netherlands. She holds the Certified Genealogist credential from the Board for Certification of Genealogists and has a post-graduate certificate in Family and Local History from the University of Dundee. She has been doing genealogy for over 30 years and helps people from across the world find their ancestors in the Netherlands. Read about Yvette's professional genealogy services.

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