Trace your Dutch roots

Your Dutch genealogy guide

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Newsletter on Dutch genealogy. Issue #19.

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Welcome to issue 19 of the Dutch genealogy newsletter.

In this issue:

  • Farewell Genlias, welcome
  • Birth certificates of children of single mothers
  • A new book on Dutch genealogy

Topic suggestions for future issues may be sent to

Poll: Where did your Dutch ancestors live?

Where did your Dutch ancestors live? Did your Dutch ancestors emigrate to the country where you live now? Or have they been all over the world before they finally settled? Please click the link and answer the poll - the results will be published in the next edition of this newsletter.

In the previous newsletter I asked you about your Dutch December traditions. Dutch food is the most popular December tradition: 33% of you has oliebollen on new year's eve, and 33% prepare Dutch dishes for Christmas. 30% has Dutch family heirlooms among their Christmas decoration, and 24% celebrates Sinterklaas around 5 December (and 3% on another date). Only 30% is not aware of any Dutch December traditions. Many of you (64%) selected "other", often to elaborate on your traditions.

Thank you for voting in this poll, and please vote again in the new poll.

Farewell Genlias, welcome

For years, I advised you, in this newsletter and on the website, to start your Dutch genealogy research by searching the Genlias database. That is going to change: Soon, Genlias will be phased out and replaced by a new website:

The new website, titled Wie was wie (Who was who), was anounced years ago, and finally opened its doors this summer. It will replace Genlias, Digital family tree, and other websites.

Wie was wie will not only have indexes, but also scans. The indexes are freely accessible, but for viewing and downloading scans you will need to take out a paid subscription. The good news is, you can take out a free trial subscription now that is valid until the end of 2012!

The website does not have an English interface yet.

Read more on the Trace your Dutch roots website.

Birth certificates of children of single mothers

A (post 1811) birth certificate usually lists the name of the newborn, and the names of both parents. There are exceptions to this rule, though. The parents of abandoned children (foundlings) were generally unknown, and thus not listed. But more common are the cases where the mother is listed, but the father is not.

If you find a birth certificate where only the mother is listed, that means the mother was not married at the time of birth. Legally, the husband of the mother was the father of the child - even if he was not. And the child had the same surname as the father. If the mother was unmarried, the child had legally only one parent - even if everyone knew who the father was. The child had the same surname as the mother.

Premarital children were often legitimated at their parents' wedding. If that happened, the legitimization was valid once a note was entered in the margin of the birth certificate. Legitimated children legally had two parents and the same surname as the father - as if the parents were married at the time of birth.

The images below show three birth certificates. If you can't see images you may have to click "Display images" in your mail reader or browser. Or read this newsletter online to see images. Click images to enlarge. From left to right:

  • Birth certificate of Aaltje, daughter of Jan Bollebakker and his wife Gijbertje Kloppenburg. Aaltje is legitimate, her surname is Bollebakker. Aaltje's father did the notification (but did not sign because he could not write).
  • Birth certificate of Antonia Hendrika Jacoba, daughter of Hendrika Keller. The father is not listed. The mother is unmarried (though in this case the birth certificate does not specifically state that), the child is illegitimate and gets the mother's surname. The notification (usually done by the father or the midwife) was done by Willem Hermes Koster, who signed the certificate. I strongly suspect he's the father - but legally he is not.
  • Birth certificate of Cornelis Johannes, son of Catharina Johanna Maria Foppen, unmarried. The notification was done by a midwife, who did not sign because she could not write. The boy was born illegitimate, with the surname Foppen, but the note in the margin explains that he was legitimated by Pieter Johannes Koopman and Johanna Maria [sic] Foppen, at their wedding in 1873. Since that time, the boy was legitimate, and had the surname Koopman.

Birth certificate, both parents listed Birth certificate, only mother listed Birth certificate, only mother listed, legitimization in margin

A new book on Dutch genealogy

Rob van Drie, deputy director of the Dutch Central Bureau for Genealogy (CBG), wrote a book on Dutch genealogy: Dutch Roots. Finding your ancestors in the Netherlands.

From the CBG website:

Step by step, the author guides you through websites and provides information about the various Dutch archives and the major genealogical source documents (which are increasingly available online): civil registration, church records, notarial records, court records, migration and emigration records, tax records, military records, Dutch familynames and coats of arms. The book concludes with a 22 page Dutch-English vocabulary. (Read more)

The price of the book is 30 euro, including worldwide shipping (less if you're in Europe), and can be ordered by sending an e-mail with your order and your address to It is also available as e-book from Amazon.

Recent news from Trace your Dutch roots

As mentioned above, the new website went live. Read more. Also read: free until end of 2012.

The Rotterdam city archive added scans of family cards from the population register (1880-1939/1941) to its website. Read more.

The Amsterdam city archive also scanned parts of its population register: 1851-1853 is now complete, 1874-1893 is in progress. Family cards (1893-1939) were already online. Read more.

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©2012 Henk van Kampen. All rights reserved.

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