In the Netherlands, most government records about our ancestors are created and kept at three different levels:
- Municipal level
- Provincial level
- National level.
All these authorities have agreements with archives to keep the records that are over twenty years old. Municipalities either have their own city archives, or collaborate in a regional archives. Each provincial capital has an archive for records created at the provincial level, but that archive often also keeps records of municipalities in the area. The records created at the national level are kept at the National Archives in The Hague, which also acts as the provincial archives for the province of South Holland.
Finding out where the records are kept can be confusing. There is now a helpful map of archives in the Netherlands. Just hover over the municipality, and it will give you the following information:
- Gemeente [Municipality]: Name of the municipality
- Archief Gemeente [Archive municipality]: Name of the archive where the records created at the municipal records are kept
- Archief Provincie [Archive province]: Name of the archive where the records created at the provincial level are kept.
For example, most of my paternal ancestors are from Winterswijk, on the Dutch/German border. If I hover over Winterswijk, it will tell me that the municipal records are kept at the Erfgoedcentrum Achterhoek en Liemers, and the provincial records at the Gelders Archief. Sometimes, if you click on the municipality, you will get a direct link to the website of the archives, but if the link is missing, a simple Google search should find the website of the archives.