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Netherlands Research

Nature of Source

From the 15th century onwards, many people from the Netherlands migrated to other countries in Europe and outside of Europe. The Netherlands were occupied and ruled by France from 1795 to 1813 so there is also a good possibility of discovering French ancestry in the Netherlands during and after the occupation.

Civil registration was introduced in most parts of the Netherlands in 1811 during the French rule and in some regions as early as 1796. However, unlike England there is no central repository of birth, marriage and death (BMD) registers. Instead each municipality keeps its own registers and those prior to 1925 are held by the municipal archives and the more recent ones are kept by the local registrar's office. It therefore vital to know the area in which an individual lived and which body held jurisdiction for each area. The records are relatively easy to search as yearly and ten yearly indexes are available.

Before the introduction of civil registration, the religious authorities recorded vital events. In order to locate a parish register, it is necessary to establish which parish church served the area where the baptism, marriage or burial took place. There was no uniform method of record keeping which has resulted in varying amounts of information contained in the registers. The first registers began in the 16th century and their use evolved over time depending on the religious denomination.

Baptism registers usually provide the child's name, parent's names, and baptism date. They may also include the child's birth date, the father's occupation, and the family's place of residence. Marriage registers show the marriage date and the names of the bride and groom, whether they were single or widowed before the marriage. They often include other information about the bride and groom, such as their ages, residences, occupations, birthplaces, parents' names, and witnesses. Unfortunately, burial registers do not indicate the deceased's place of birth but do provide the deceased's name, marital status, and date and place of death and/or burial. Sometimes the age, place of residence, cause of death, and names of survivors are given. Also look for Monumental Inscriptions which sometimes give detailed genealogical information, especially as many have been transcribed.

If a marriage record cannot be found, other sources might help. A tax on marriages was imposed in the province of Holland from 1695 to 1805 and these tax records at least provide the names of those that married and the date of marriage. Similar information is contained in the marriage intentions, known in England as banns. They were kept by the church authorities in separate books or in the marriage register.

The first national census was held in 1829 and thereafter were taken every ten years until 1929. Where available, census records family relationships, ages, years and places of birth, marital statuses and religions. Another potential source are the population registration records. They were introduced in 1850 and register families, their personal data, their address and their migration details.

If a person had Huguenot connections with France, the information about Huguenots has been extracted from the parish registers of the French Protestant and Dutch Reformed Churches. The summary information is available from the Central Office for Genealogy (Centraal Bureau voor Genealogie) and is commonly referred to as the Leiden Collection.

One of the best sources of information used to trace ancestry is the emigration and immigration records. These list those people arriving or leaving the Netherlands. Records of departure include the passenger lists which state each emigrant's name, age, occupation, destination, relationship to travelling companions, and last residence. The emigrant's birthplace may be given. The government compiled its own lists of emigrants leaving the country from 1845 to 1877. These give each emigrant's name, age, occupation, religion, municipality of last residence, reason for leaving, and destination. For those entering the Netherlands and afforded citizenship, the details were entered into citizenship books and include the person's name, former residence, occupation, number of family members, name of witnesses or sureties, and sometimes birthplaces and relationships.

A mass of information is contained within the court records. The courts dealt with many issues including land transfers, mortgages and wills. These are often difficult records to read and rarely indexed.

Where Found

Period Covered

1500 - Onwards

Genealogical Value

Birth Certificates
Child's name, sex, date, time and place of birth and parents' names, including the mother's maiden surname. The occupations and ages of the parents are also given.
Marriage Registers/certificates
Date of marriage and the names of the bride and groom. Bride and groom's marital status, ages, birthplaces, occupations, and residences. Parent's names, residences, and occupations, if living. Also look for marriage supplements such as the marriage intentions if a marriage certificate is not found.
Death Certificates
Deceased's name, birthplace, date and place of death, age, occupation, spouse's name, and parents' names. If the spouse and parents are living, their occupation and residence will be given, otherwise it will name the place of their death.

Websites (FamilySearch Research Wiki: The Netherlands) (Yvette Hoitink’s Dutch Genealogy. The site includes a blog to learn more about researching Dutch ancestors) (5 Dutch Genealogy Tips: Family History in The Netherlands) (Netherlands Genealogy Links) (CyndisList: Netherlands / Nederland) (Family History Library: Research Outline: The Netherlands) (Tips on Dutch Research) (Trace your Dutch roots online: Find your Dutch ancestors on the internet) (The Family History Guide: Get started with Netherlands research) (Dutch Genealogy)

Online Databases (WieWasWie. The website is run by the Centraal Bureau voor Genealogie, the Dutch central bureau for genealogy and presents historical personal information, aggregated from archive collections and user generated content such as family trees and biographies. The database includes civil register records, church records and passenger lists of the Dutch East India Company) (FamilySearch Historical Records) (Netherlands family history research page) (Dutch Data on World Vital Records)

CD Roms (Various titles)