Dutch term – Weeshuis

A Weeshuis (literally: orphan’s house) is an orphanage.

Only larger cities had a special orphanage. In smaller cities, orphans were often found families to live with, who would receive a fee for their upkeep.

Archives of weeshuizen often include the records of the orphans they took care of. This could tell you when they were admitted, what education they received (often a trade like shoe making for boys and seamstress for girls), and when they were discharged. In the case of abandoned children, the orphan’s admission papers may include details of the place where they were found, sometimes including a swatch of fabric of their clothes.

Do not confuse the word weeshuis (orphanage) with weeskamer (orphan chamber). The weeskamer oversaw the administration of the assets of minors who had lost one of both parents, but did not raise the children.

Lutheran orphanage in Amsterdam, 1787. Credits: Pieter Wagenaar, collection Rijksmuseum.

About Yvette Hoitink

Yvette Hoitink, MLitt, CG®, QG™ is a professional genealogist, writer, and lecturer in the Netherlands. She has a Master of Letters in Family and Local History from the University of Dundee, and holds the Certification of Genealogist and Qualified Genealogist credentials. Yvette served on the Board of Directors of the Association of Professional Genealogists and won excellence awards for her articles in the National Genealogical Society Quarterly and the Association of Professional Genealogists Quarterly. Yvette has been doing genealogy for over 30 years. She helps people from across the world find their ancestors from the Netherlands and its former colonies, including New Netherland. Read about Yvette's professional genealogy services.


  1. Diane M Calhoun says

    Yvette, Are there any of these on-line or is going to the town necessary?

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