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by Eric Hennekam

Note: A part of this article was published In 'Families', Ontario Genealogical Society, vol.26.no.2, May 1988

This article offers a summary of the sources available in Holland to genealogical researchers. To be able to do genealogical research well, it is important to work step by step. In Holland numerous institutions are involved with genealogy. At the end of this article you will find a list of addresses of the most important of these archives and specific genealogical institutions.

Civil Registration (1811 to present)
Civil registration began in c. 1811 by order of Napoleon Bonaparte during the French occupation of Holland (1795-1813). At present every township's secretary makes all civil registrations in duplicate. There are four different kinds of registrations:
  • 1. Birth registration - The registers generated by this usually contain the names, ages, occupations and addresses of the parents, as well as the names of witnesses.
  • 2. Marriage and divorce registration - These registers provide the names, ages, places of birth, occupations and residences of the bride and the groom. Besides this information you will find the names, ages (since 1907), occupations and addresses of the couple's parents and the witnesses. It is important to know that in the nineteenth century it was customary in Holland to marry in the place of residence of the bride. Each marriage document has appendices; more information on these will follow later in this article.
  • 3. Death registration - These registers contain the names, ages, addresses, dates and times of death, and usually also the names of the widowed spouses. It also gives you the names, occupations, ages and addresses of the persons who registered the deceased, and sometimes the names of the parents of the deceased.
  • 4. Registers of wedding announcements - In the place of residence of both the bride and the groom, registers of the announcements of the marriage are kept. A major problem in using these registers is frequently the lack of an index, which makes searching through the information time-consuming.

The forementioned registers are filed in country, township and regional archives for the period 1811-1912. The council of each township chooses the archive in which to file the civil registers, so that the researcher often has to travel through the whole country to see the registers for the different townships. Usually one can look through them for a fee. It is also possible to get photocopies of the documents. The registers mentioned under 1, 2 and 3 have been made accessible by means of the ten-year tables. These are alphabetical indices of surnames, made over ten-year periods each.

Appendices to Marriage Documents
These appendices concerning the marriage document (see 2 above) have to be prepared by the civil registration officer of the township where the wedding is taking place. The officer will judge whether all requirements for marriage are met. These appendices are an important source for the genealogist. They contain copies of the birth registrations of the bride and the groom, or, for the period 1811-c.1855, copies of the baptism registration. Through these papers the researcher often discovers the religion of the couples, which is important for further research. Furthermore, copies of the death certificates of the parents (if applicable) and of earlier partners will be found in the appendices. Other sources that might be included are proof of adulthood, medical examinations, and in the beginning of the nineteenth century, proof from the military commandants that the groom has fulfilled the requirements of the Law of the National Militia.

Population Registration (1850-1920)
From 1850 to 1920 the townships kept population registrations. These registers are usually in order of street and house numbers and provide the names of the persons living at each address mentioned. When people moved, their information was scratched through and the new occupants were listed right under the previous ones.

Besides the date of registration the population registers contain the names of all the members of a family and individuals, their sex, date of birth, place of birth, religion, marital status and occupation. Even when people emigrated, it is mentioned in the population registration. From 1920 to c. 1938 the population registers were replaced by socalled family cards, often giving the same information. From 1938 to the present a personal card is made for every person living in Holland, regardless of his or her nationality. These personal cards contain a wealth of genealogical information, such as the names, the dates and places of birth, marriage and death of the person concerned and his partner in marriage, his children, addresses, names and usually dates and places of birth of the parents etc.

At the end of every year the personal cards of deceased persons go to the Central Bureau for Genealogy (see address list) . Copies of the personal cards are available for a fee. When somebody moves abroad his card is filed at the Rijksinspectie Bevolkings- registratie (State Inspection Population Registration) in The Hague.

Church Records (c.1545-1811)
In the period before 1811 the pastors of the various churches kept registers of baptism, marriage and death (DTB registers). The oldest registers, which are form parish of Deventer, Maria-church, date back to 1545. The starting dates of these registers vary by church and township. The book "Repertorium DTBII(Concise Repertory of Dutch parish registers), issued by the Central Bureau for Genealogy in 1969, contains a complete list of the registers in the archives. The book has an introduction and an English and German explanation for the abbreviations. Many registers were handed over to the civil authorities in the French period (1795-1813).

To read the DTB registers you often need a palaeographic back- ground. The handwritten papers, often in Latin, from the sixteenth, seventeenth and eighteenth centuries are very hard to read, making research very time-consuming. Fortunately many archives are now preparing indices with all the information from these DTB-registers.

During the many religious wars in Europe in the previous centuries, large groups of foreigners came to Holland. The principle groups of immigrants were:

  • the Huguenots from France (sixteenth century; c. 75,000 persons)
  • military people and their families from the German regiments (sixteenth to mid-nineteenth century; tens of thousands of persons)
  • Flemings and Walloons from what was once called Southern Netherlands and is now Belgium left their country in the last decade of the sixteenth and early seventeenth century because of the worsened economic conditions and later because of religious conflicts (c.35,000 persons).
The country of origin of immigrants is usually stated in the marriage and membership registers of Calvinist churches.

Colonization and Emigration
The three most important periods for Dutch colonization and emigration are:
  • 1. The colonization expansion of the Republic of the Seven United Netherlands. Many Dutch people left the Republic influenced by trading companies such as the United East Indian Company (V.O.C.), established in 1602, and the West Indian Company (W.I.C.), established in 1621. Dutch colonies were founded in the Antilles, Brazil, Guyana, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, the United States, Southeast Asia and South Africa. The genealogical material concerning these colonies for a large part is filed in the "Algemeen Rijksarchief" (General State Archives). The names of the emigrants can often be found on the muster rolls of the ships.
  • 2. Actually emigration from Holland only became significant in the nineteenth century. Many Dutch people left for the "New World", the United States, while a small number of them travelled to Canada, Australia and New Zealand . By the absence of Dutch population registers before 1850, there are three sources available for emigrants (then called country- movers):
    • a) Lists of country-movers.
    • b) Passenger lists of ships entering the American and other harbours.
    • c) Census lists, made up every ten years of the American population.
    A large part of the sources mentioned under a) b) and c) are available on microfiche at the Central Bureau for Genealogy.
  • 3. Just before and after the Second World War many Dutch people left for Canada, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa (South Africa was also popular for emigration at the end of the nineteenth century). The date of departure is often found in the last place residence in Holland.

Other Sources
Besides the forementioned genealogical sources there are many more sources to be found in the archival institutions in Holland that are interesting for the genealogist. A short description of the main sources follows:
  • Church membership registers - The reformed churches kept a list of their members (important in the period before 1811).
  • Civil or gate books - Everybody who wanted to establish himself in a Dutch city to practise a trade or to have an occupation from the fifteenth to the nineteenth century, had to obtain the civil rights or gate rights of that city.
  • Military books - Military people were registered by company. The military books for a large part are filed in the General State Archives in The Hague.
  • Juridical and notarial archives - These archives contain documents like testaments, documents of buying and selling properties, mortgages, post-divorce property splitting, authorizations, court decisions, convictions, etc. They are filed in the different archival institutions.
  • Family weapons and heraldry - For more information concerning family weapons and heraldry one should ask the Central Bureau for Genealogy. The have a wealth of information about these subjects.
It is impossible to mention and describe precisely all the available sources in a short article.

For the genealogist it is important to know that a copy of a large part of the DTB registers and the civil registers of Holland are filed on microfiche at the Genealogical Society of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Mormons) in Salt Lake City, Utah, USA.

The Central Bureau for Genealogy also has a large collection of microfiches of the above mentioned and other genealogical sources. If you want more information about archival research in Holland, you can write or E-mail me a letter stating all the information you have. I will answer your letter or give to the institution best equipped to answer your questions.

My address is:

Eric Hennekam
L.Bouwmeesterlaan 185
3584 GH Utrecht
The Netherlands
e-mail: E.Hennekam@planet.nl
website: http://home.planet.nl/~henne132
Eric sends this update to his article
Another 'new' website is from the National Dutch Archive. In the future it will be the most important for genealogical research, because they got money from all the Europe countries for publication all 'marriages records between 1811 and 1911'. In 2001 this project is ready. Website address: http://www.archief.nl


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