Quick Tip – Van der Aa’s Gazetteer

Van der Aa’s Aardrijkskundig Woordenboek der Nederlanden or geographic dictionary of the Netherlands is a dictionary in 14 volumes that appeared between 1839 and 1854. It contains descriptions of all geographical names in the Netherlands. For cities, towns, and villages, it will give a description of its location, the population including the dominant religions, the main industry and occupations in a town, and any peculiarities Van der Aa found worth mentioning.

This gazetteer can be helpful to find out the jurisdiction that a village was a part of, or to get an idea of what the town was like in the 1840s. Knowing whether your ancestors’ religion was a minor one can help you understand marriage and migration patterns. The books are in Dutch so if you don’t read the language,  you can use a translator like Google Translate.

The books are out of copyright and can be consulted via Google Books:

About Yvette Hoitink

Yvette Hoitink, CG®, QG™ 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 diploma 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.


  1. Virgil Hoftiezer says

    Forgive my total ignorance, but I read no Dutch.

    I tried to find IJzerlo in Woordenboek and was sent to the Dutch Google website. Where would IJ fall in the listing? Or am I expecting too much?

    • Between the X and the Z.

      • Virgil Hoftiezer says

        WOW – fast reply. Surprise location — I looked between H and I and then tried I and J/K.


      • Virgil Hoftiezer says

        OK. Now I can not find ‘X’ . There is a volume W-Y and a volume for Z. I looked at the end of W for X and there is no Y. It is not at the beginning of Z volume either. Maybe I don’t know the alphabet well enough.

        Found an excellent reference to the Dutch Family Heritage Society Quarterly, but can not access the three pages referenced. Going to Google in English does not bring up the Quarterly.

        I used to belong to the DFHS, but I think it no longer exists.

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