Trace your Dutch roots

Your quarterly guide to finding your Dutch ancestors

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Quarterly newsletter on Dutch genealogy research. Issue #7. Publication date 21 January 2008.

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Welcome to the January issue of the Trace your Dutch roots newsletter.

Because of a busy schedule, changes in my personal life, and several other circumstances, there has not been a newsletter in the second half of 2007. For the same reason, the posting schedule of this newsletter will change from bi-monthly to quarterly. The next issue is planned for April. Topic suggestions may be sent to

In this issue:

  • Online records
  • Visit a Dutch archive
  • Trace your Ellis Island ancestors into The Netherlands

Online records

In the last few years, we have seen an explosive growth in the amount of genealogical data available online. Many archives are publishing records from their collection on their website, sometimes for a small fee but usually free of charge. Many individuals also publish digital resources on the internet. Over the coming weeks, the Trace your Dutch roots blog will have a look at some of the many websites with records relevant to Dutch genealogy. So far, we have looked at Genlias, Zeeuwen gezocht, BHIC and Tresoar. You can subscribe to the blog by e-mail, if you don't want to miss any issue.

Visit a Dutch archive

When you are looking for your Dutch ancestors, there is a wealth of information available online, and most people will never fly to The Netherlands to do research. But if you want to dig deeper, you may come to a point that you want to continue your genealogy research in a Dutch archive.

You will probably want to visit either the provincial archive in the capital of the province your ancestors lived, or a local or regional archive in or near your ancestral town. As a rule of thumb, local and regional archives keep population registers, the BMD records of the civil registry, and sometimes church books. Provincial archives also keep BMD records (these were created in duplicate), those church books that are not in a local or regional archive, and court and notarial deeds.

To get the most out of your visit, you should prepare it well. You should take the following steps well before you fly to The Netherlands:

  • Specify what information you are looking for. You should be as specific as possible.
  • Find out which sources you can use to find the information you need.
  • Find out in which Dutch archive these sources are.
  • Check if the sources you need are indeed accessible.
  • Check the address and opening times of the archive. Check which days the archive is closed for e.g. holidays or a staff outing.
  • Find out if you need to make an appointment.

About two weeks before you fly to The Netherlands, double-check the opening times and availability of the sources you need.

Just before you go to the archive, check that you have the list of records you want to consult, a pen, plenty of paper, and (if you need it) your laptop and photo camera.

When you arrive at an archive you report to the reception desk. You will need to register your visit, and probably show your passport or ID card. For some archives you will need a special pass to enter, this will be created on the spot. Bags, coats, food and drinks are not allowed inside the archive. Most archives provide lockers for your personal belongings.

You should tell a staff member that this is your first visit to their archive, and what the goal of your visit is. They will explain the procedures you need to follow, and show you what resources you can find yourself and where they are.

When you are registered, you enter the study room. Commonly used sources, like church books, BMD acts or the population register are available on microfiche or (occasionally) microfilm, via a self-service system: You get the microfiche you need, put it in the reader, and when you are finished you put it back yourself. Please ask a staff member for the correct procedure before you start taking out microfiches.

When a source you need is not available on microfiche, microfilm, or computer scan, you may order the original documents. The procedure is different for each archive, so ask a member of staff how to proceed. In most archives you will have to wait about half an hour before you get the documents. When you are finished with them, you return them to the designated place, where a staff member will collect them and return them to the deposits.

If you need paper copies, you can order copies from the original documents (you are usually not allowed to take them to a photocopier yourself), or make reader prints from acts on microfiche or microfilm. There will be charges. Photography of documents is allowed in most (but not all) archives, but there will often be special conditions. You should consult a staff member before taking photographs.

Staff members are available to help you if needed. They will:

  1. explain the procedures of the archive;
  2. explain where and how to find the microfiche you need;
  3. help you use the microfiche reader and the microfiche printer;
  4. help you read a hard to decipher word;
  5. help you understand an obsolete phrase in a document;
  6. answer questions about the sources in their archives.

Usually they will not:

  1. do your research for you;
  2. find the microfiches for you;
  3. print the microfiches for you;
  4. read an act for you;
  5. translate an act for you.

If possible, visit the archive together with a Dutch friend or relative, so that they can help you with reading and translating the Dutch acts.

A longer version of this article is available on the Trace your Dutch roots website.

Trace your Ellis Island ancestors into The Netherlands

If your Dutch immigrant ancestors travelled to Ellis Island, and you have located your immigrant ancestors on an Ellis Island passenger list, you usually have sufficient information to trace their Dutch roots. To help you to get started, I have selected several Dutch Ellis Island immigrants, and searched for them in online genealogy databases and other genealogy websites.

I have, more or less randomly, selected a page from an Ellis Island passenger list, and we will try to trace the Dutch families on this list into The Netherlands. The passenger list we will be looking at is the list of the S.S. Rijndam, sailing from Rotterdam on 8 April 1911, and arriving at Ellis Island ten days later (see the partial transcription on the website).

There are thirty names on the page I selected, and 19 of them are Dutch: Antje, Neeltje, Barbara, Geertruida, Jeannette, Hendrika and Dirk Velthuizen; Willem B. Johannes, Cornelia Maria, Johan J. and Julius W. de Munnik; Catharina Hendrika de Mey; Johannes Antonis and Neeltje van Aalst; Pieter Velthuis; Sophia Pardoen; Franciscus, Geertruida and Franciscus van Valkenburg.

De Munnik

Willem B. Johannes de Munnik (31, born in Rotterdam), his wife Cornelia Maria (30, born in Dordt), and their children Johan J. (4) and Julius W. (2). Last place of residence is Rotterdam. Contact in The Netherlands is Willem's father Johannes J. de Munnik, with an address in Rotterdam. Note: Dordt is short for Dordrecht.

It seems we should start our search in Rotterdam. The Rotterdam Archive has an excellent online database, and after some searching I found the marriage of Wilhelmus Bernardus Johannes de Munnik, 26, born in Rotterdam, and Neeltje Maria Böneker, 25, born in Dordrecht. The marriage took place on 24 January 1906. Knowing that Willem is a short form of Wilhelmus, and Neeltje is a short form of Cornelia, we may assume that this is the couple we are looking for. The parents are also named: Johannes Jacobus de Munnik and Antoinette Pank, and Friedrich Wilhelm Böneker and Juliana van Dijl. Note that the eldest child, Johan J., is named after his paternal grandfather.

The birth act of Wilhelmus Bernardus Johannes de Munnik (born 2 May 1879 in Rotterdam) and the birth act and two marriages of Johannes Jacobus de Munnik are also available, as well as birth and marriage acts of several siblings of Willem.

De Mey

Catharina Hendrika de Mey (25, born Amsterdam). Last residence is Amsterdam, contact address is her father, Mr. A.G. de Mey in Amsterdam.

Our best bet is the collection gezinskaarten on the website of the Amsterdam city archive. There is no card for de Mey, but I know the letter y in a name on an Ellis Island ship record is often ij on Dutch records (see my article ij or y), and indeed there is a card for A.G. de Meij, born 22 July 1842. To get more information, I need to look at the scan of the gezinskaart, and to do that, I need to pay a fee.

I paid the fee and downloaded the scan. Catharina Hendrika is listed on the card, with her parents and siblings. She was born 3 July 1885, probably in Amsterdam (that was hard to decipher). Her parents are Adrianus Gerardus de Meij (born 22 July 1822 in Maarssen) and Catharina Hendrika Kleinhuis (birth date and place hard to read). The family was catholic.

The de Meij-Kleinhuis marriage is on Genlias: Adrianus Gerardus de Meij, 24, born in Maarssen, and Catharina Henderika Kleinhuis, 20, born in Wildervank, married on 24 April 1867 in Assen. Their parents are Gerrit Janszoon de Meij and Antje Sukel, and Jakobus Johannes Kleinhuis and Geertruida Geerts Ruberg.

Van Aalst

Johannes Antoni van Aalst (35, born Herwijnen), and his wife Neeltje (32, born Zaltbommel). Last residence is Zaltbommel, contact address is Johannes' father G. van Aalst in Herweinen.

Zaltbommel marriages are in Genlias, and I could quickly locate their marriage act: Johannes Antonie van Aalst, born 30 September 1875 in Hurwenen, and Neeltje Cosijn, born 6 November 1876 in Zaltbommel, married on 25 January 1900 in Zaltbommel. Parents are Gerrit van Aalst and Klazina Hendrika de Vries, and Roelof Cosijn and Maria van de Graan. The groom and his father are farmers.

The marriage of Gerrit van Aalst and Clazina Hendrika de Vries is also on Genlias, and probably other records of family members.


Pieter Velthuis (30, born Zaltbommel). His last residence is Zaltbommel, and his contact address is Jan Velthuis in Zaltbommel. The same place of origin as the Van Aalst family, and also the same destination in Iowa. It is worth finding out what their relation is, but I won't do that in this newsletter.

Again, I had to try a different spelling to have any results. Searching Genlias again I found Jan Veldhuis, maybe this is Pieter's father: Jan Veldhuis, born 24 February 1844 in Terwolde (Voorst), and Allegonda Jansen, born on 11 February 1845 in Zaltbommel, married on 22 October 1870 in Zaltbommel. Parents are Derk Everds Veldhuis and Harmina Neusink, and Martinus Jansen and Willemina Maria Donkers.

I checked Digital resources Netherlands and Belgium to see if there are any other resources for Zaltbommel, and I discovered that the Streekarchief Bommelerwaard has indexes to the birth register and the population register, among others. The birth register index lists Pieter Veldhuis, born 11 March 1881 in Zaltbommel. The population register index has the following family: Jan Veldhuis, born 24 February 1844, Allegonda Jansen, born 11 February 1845, Martinus Veldhuis, born 10 November 1872, Willem Veldhuis, born 6 January 1875, Pieter Veldhuis, born 11 March 1881, Antonia Wilhelmina Veldhuis, born 22 May 1885, Bertha Johanna Veldhuis, born 28 January 1888, and Johanna Cornelia Veldhuis, born 16 December 1891.

It seems we're on the right track with this family, but we will need to visit the Bommelerwaard archive to prove it. The population register of Zaltbommel is kept there, and in it we can check if Pieter indeed left Zaltbommel in 1911.


Sophia Pardoen (27, born Kampen). Last residence is Amsterdam, contact is her father Mr. Pardoen in Hengelo.

I was quite surprised to find Sophia Pardoen on this (randomly chosen) page. After all, I have researched the Pardoen family and published the Pardoen family tree on this website. A Google search for Sophia Pardoen will indeed lead you to my Pardoen family tree, with information on Sophia's ancestry and siblings.

Van Valkenburg

Franciscus van Valkenburg (31, born Oss), his wife Geertruida (33, born Mill), and their son Franciscus (3, born Berchem). Last residence is Berchem, contact address is Geertruida's mother Mrs. Wagemakers in Oss, destination is Geertruida's brother G. Wagemakers.

Genlias has their marriage record: Franciscus van Valkenburg, born Mill en Sint Hubert, and Geertruda Johanna Wagemakers, born Oss, married 1 May 1906 in Oss. Parents are Johannes van Valkenburg and Johanna Gommers, and Justinus Wagemakers and Geertruida de Groot. Genlias and the website of the Brabant archives, BHIC, will probably have more information on their ancestry.

Note that Ellis Island and Genlias have the birth places of Franciscus and Geertruida reversed: I would expect Genlias is correct, but you should check their birth acts to be sure.


The search for Velthuizen was more complicated because I expected all the Velthuizens to be related, while there are actually two different Velthuizen families on this page. I traced them on the websites of Genlias, Ellis Island, The Hague, and Rotterdam. Read the full story on the website.

©2008 Henk van Kampen. All rights reserved.