Trace your Dutch roots

Your bi-monthly guide to finding your Dutch ancestors

About this newsletter

Bi-monthly newsletter on Dutch genealogy research. Issue #6. Publication date 30 June 2007.

Our websites

This months featured links


To subscribe, send a message to:

To unsubscribe, send a message to:

Welcome to the June issue of this newsletter.

In this issue:

The next issue is planned for August. Topic suggestions may be sent to

Website of the month

Every newsletter we will discuss a resource for Dutch genealogy that is available online. This month: Memory of The Netherlands.

Published by the Royal Dutch Library, the Geheugen van Nederland (Memory of The Netherlands) website contains almost 350,000 photos, illustrations, media files and other objects related to Dutch history. These objects come from the collections of Dutch archives, museums, libraries and other institutions.

One of the collections on this site is The Netherlands in Portraits - Early 20th century - a collection of 30,000 newspaper and magazine clippings from the early 1900s. You will find many portraits of "ordinary" people here - pictures taken on occasions like anniversaries and jubilees.

Fashion magazine De Gracieuse (1862-1936) contains (mostly women's) fashion, including tips and instructions for sewing, knitting or embroidering (in case you want to re-create your ancestor's clothing).

Atlantic World, a collaborative project between the Royal Dutch Library in The Hague and the Library of Congress in Washington, contains books, maps, documents and other objects pertaining to the Dutch in North America, from the New Netherland settlers to postwar Dutch immigrants in the U.S.A.

The many other collections on this website include Children's books from the Rotterdam Library (1840-1950), The Dutch East Indies in photographs (1860-1940), Catholic life in images (c.1900-present), Jewish portraits and images from the Netherlands around 1900, and Broadside ballads (popular folk songs and broadside ballads interpreted by contemporary Dutch singers).

Most of the website is available in Dutch: Click on the EN icon on the top right of the screen. Search results are often in Dutch.

Maiden names

In most English-speaking countries, a woman generally takes her husband's surname after marriage. In The Netherlands (and several other European countries), a married woman may use her husband's surname, and be known to everyone in her environment under her husband's name, but she will never get this name. On all official documents, her own surname is used.

This is also true for old church books. In 18th century baptism books, the mother will (nearly always) be recorded with her own surname. If there were female witnesses, they will be listed under their own surnames.

This means, of course, that knowing the maiden names of your female Dutch ancestors is even more important than knowing the maiden names of your female American ancestors. In practice, this is rarely a problem, as every document you find will list it. If you know anything at all about a female ancestor, you will at least know her maiden name.

Images of the past

Dutch archives and libraries often have a large collection of photos, maps, drawings, picture postcards and other images. Several archives (and a few libraries) are making their images available via internet. The Beeldbank Amsterdam (image database Amsterdam), for instance, has almost 250,000 images available on their website.

The Dutch National Archive also has an online image collection, with half a million photos, mostly from after 1880. The main regional or local image collections are listed (by province) on the Trace your Dutch roots website, under Regional genealogy (more will be added).

Unfortunately, Memory of The Netherlands is the only one of the major image collections with an English search interface (the Rotterdam Archive has an English introduction page, but even here the search interface is in Dutch).

Images found in these collections may usually be downloaded for your own use, but for reproduction (also on the internet) you will need to get permission from the image owner.

©2007 Henk van Kampen. All rights reserved.