Trace your Dutch roots

Your quarterly Dutch genealogy guide

About this newsletter

Quarterly newsletter on Dutch genealogy. Issue #16. Publication date May 2010.

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Welcome to the May issue of this newsletter, the second issue of 2010.

In this issue:

  • Use social networks to trace your Dutch roots
  • Digital resources Netherlands and Belgium
  • Amsterdam online records

The next issue is planned for August. As always, topic suggestions may be sent to

Use social networks to trace your Dutch roots

Social networks (websites like Facebook, LinkedIn, or Twitter), are quickly gaining in popularity, not only with younger people, but increasingly also with middle-aged and even elderly people. Because of their popularity, they can also be a useful tool for genealogy.

The main use for social networks is, of course, networking: You join, create a profile or write a short bio, and connect with family, friends, colleagues.

When you use a social network for genealogy, it's also the networking that's important: You won't find databases with e.g. census records. You will find like-minded people, (possibly distant) cousins, authors of genealogy columns, editors of genealogy magazines, people discussing their roots, and focused discussion group about (Dutch) genealogy.


Facebook is by far the most popular social network, and chances are you already have a profile on Facebook. If not, registering is not too difficult. Just register, fill out your profile, and connect to your friends and relatives.

Facebook is a great site to network with other genealogists and share information. You can join discussion groups and pages, and discuss your brick walls. You can share photos and scanned documents on your profile, or in the groups or on the pages that you joined. You can browse (and join) listed events, or create your own events. You can post links to useful genealogy sites, and browse links that others have shared. You can leave comments on your friends' (or groups') photos, notes, or links. For more tips on using facebook for genealogy, see Uses for Facebook in Genealogy by Cyndi Howells (the author of Cyndi's List).

Trace your Dutch roots has its own page on facebook. Join us by clicking the "Like" button at the top of the page. You can post queries and comments on our page, upload a photo of your Dutch ancestors or ancestral hometown, or post a link to your favorite Dutch genealogy website.

There are two other Dutch genealogy groups on Facebook: Dutch ancestors and Dutch genealogy.

My own facebook profile is here. You can add me as a connection, if you want - just leave a comment that you are a reader of my newsletter and I will accept your request to connect.


Twitter is the web's short message service (SMS). You share short messages (max. 140 characters) with the world, you reply or comment on other people's short messages and forward their messages to your network. You can use Twitter to share (and comment on) useful links, to discuss today's genealogical research or tomorrow's genealogy trip, or to ask for help with your genealogical problems. Read Twitter for Genealogy for more tips on how Twitter can help you genealogically. If you are completely new to Twitter, you may want to read these tips for beginners first.

People you should "follow" (the Twitter term for adding to your network) include Yvette Hoitink (the author of the Dutch Genealogy website), Dutch in, and myself. If you read Dutch, you can also follow the Central Bureau for Genealogy and Dutch archives like the Dutch National Archive, or the archives of Friesland, Groningen, Drenthe, Zeeland, Gelderland, Noord-Brabant, Noord-Holland, Rotterdam, or many others.


LinkedIn is mostly a business network, and not very useful for genealogy (unless genealogy is your business, probably). There are genealogy discussions going on, though, in LinkedIn's discussion and networking groups. Groups you may want to join include the genealogy group Genealogy Linked, the Dutch genealogy group Online genealogen (Online genealogists) with many Dutch genealogy fans (most discussions are in Dutch) and the international genealogy group for people with Dutch roots Dutch ancestry group.

Genealogy Wise

Genealogy Wise, an initiative of the FamilyLink company, is a social network especially for genealogy. You can create a profile here and connect with your friends, as in Facebook. Connecting (by adding friends) is not very useful, as Genealogy Wise does not offer anything to follow your friends or interact with them, the way Facebook does. Its real value is the many forums, blogs, chats and groups, all related to genealogy. Its other options (sharing photos, notes, links etc.) are similar to (but more basic than) Facebook's options.

The place to be on Genealogy Wise, if you have Dutch roots, is the Dutch genealogy group - you should join the group and introduce your Dutch ancestors. If you have Friesland roots, also join the Frisian & Friesland Genealogy group. Also check out the surname groups - there are many Dutch surnames listed. If the group you are looking for does not exist yet, consider creating it yourself.

My profile on Genealogy Wise is here.


If you want to connect to your Dutch cousins, you should join Hyves. Hyves is a Dutch social network, similar to Facebook. Members create a profile, and connect with their friends. All the buzz is going on in hyves, which are similar to facebook pages. Hyves is available in Dutch and in English, but most of the action is going on in Dutch.

Hyves has almost ten million members, over 80% are Dutch. As The Netherlands have 16 million inhabitants, that means that about half of the population is on Hyves (and an even larger part of the indigenous population). If you are looking for your Dutch relatives, chances are you will find them on Hyves!

Joining Hyves is mainly useful if you want to connect to your Dutch relatives, but there are also several genealogy-related hyves that may be useful (at least if you can read some Dutch): The general genealogy hyves Genealogie and Digitale Stamboom, Tresoar (a hyve about the Frisian archive), and Historisch Centrum Leeuwarden (a hyve about the Leeuwarden archive).

First steps

If you are new to social networks and don't have a profile on any of these sites yet, I suggest you start with Facebook. Register and fill out your profile. Spend some time reviewing your privacy settings (click Account in the top right of the page, then Privacy Settings) - you have complete control over who can see what you do on Facebook, but the default settings allows more people than you would expect to follow your actions.

Now search for your friends and relatives and add them as connections (Facebook calls your connections Friends, but they are just connections). Add a few genealogists (including me) as connections. Join Trace your Dutch roots on Facebook and ask a Dutch genealogy question. Join one of the many other genealogy related groups and ask a question.

Further reading

  • How to find long lost friends on Facebook. Though the focus of the article is on finding people you know (or have known), the same techniques apply if you want to search distant cousins.
  • The Facebook cheat sheet [PDF] has some tips on how to create an account, how to setup and fill out your profile, how to find and connect to friends and relatives.
  • Facebook and Genealogy, on the same site as the cheat sheet, has lists of genealogy pages and groups that you can join, and a list of genealogists on facebook that welcome connection requests from like-minded people like you. Both the lists and the cheat sheet are maintained by Thomas McEntee, a professional genealogist and lecturer who specializes in the use of technology and social networks in genealogy.
  • Uses for Facebook in Genealogy, by Cyndi Howells. This article has several tips on using Facebook for genealogy.
  • Twitter for Genealogy, by Barbara Bradley Petura.
  • Ten easy steps for Twitter beginners, by Aira Bongco. If you just signed up for Twitter, this article will tell you what to do next. Use the first five suggestions for now, the other five can wait.
  • The Twitter cheat sheet [PDF], from the same author as the Facebook cheat sheet mentioned above.
  • Ten ways to use LinkedIn, by Guy Kawasaki.
  • There is even a book about social networking for genealogy: Drew Smith's Social Networking for Genealogists. Disclaimer: I did not read it (yet).

Digital resources Netherlands and Belgium

There are thousands of websites with Dutch genealogy resources - from large databases with millions of records, like Genlias, to small lists. If you are a regular reader of this newsletter or the blog than you probably have seen (and maybe used) a few dozen online resources already. But how do you find all the others? After all, one of them might have just the record you need to break down that brick wall.

The answer to that question is: Digital resources Netherlands and Belgium. This site contains an index to all resources that are available on the internet without payment:

"The digital resources are integral workings, of interest for genealogical researchers. Beside resources you can find at the Internet you will also find lists of resources available on diskette and cd-rom; [..] All information concerning the resources on the internet are available in English, except the passenger lists but that will not be a problem."

The resources are listed by provinces and town, so you need to find out where your ancestors came from! On the regional section of Trace your Dutch roots you can find out which town belongs to which province. Once you know the town and province, you head to Digital resources Netherlands and Belgium, click on the internet link under the province name on the left of the page, and scroll down to your ancestor's town.

Suppose, for example, your ancestors came from Goes in Zeeland. Click on the internet link under Zeeland in the navigation menu on the left. First check out the provincial and regional resources at the top of the page. Here you will find sites like Genlias and Zeeuwen Gezocht that have BMD records from the entire province. Then, scroll down to Goes in the Local section. Here you see several resources that you probably did not know about before, like working men with benefits from the civil poor-relief (1888-1903).

Note that only free resources are listed. Paid databases, like those from the Central Bureau of Genealogy or the Amsterdam City Archives, are not listed.

Amsterdam online records

Last month, the Amsterdam City Archives published its burial registers (1535-1811) online. The press release that announced these burial registers stated:

a wealth of digitized archival material, directly available online. The easy-to-use website provides quick access to Amsterdamís historical documents. Find your Dutch ancestors with just the click of a mouse, with the help of a straightforward search system and instructions in English. Now, the Amsterdam burial registers, another indispensable source for genealogical research, have been added to the Archives Database, bringing the total number of scans to more than seven million.

The baptism registers were published earlier (in Dutch only). If you have ancestors from Amsterdam in the 17th or 18th century, with the burial and baptism registers you now have great resources to help you trace your Amsterdam roots online (though it would be great to have the marriage registers too).

For the early 20th century there is also a lot of material online: family cards (1893-1939) and burial registers of cemetery De Nieuwe Ooster (1894-2005) on the website of the Amsterdam City Archives, for example, or the marriages on Genlias (1901-1932).

Records from the 19th century seem to be largely lacking, though. The Digital Resources Netherlands and Belgium site lists a few (in the province Noord-Holland), but in general you either have to visit an offline resource (in Amsterdam, Haarlem, or your local FHC) or wait until more records become available.

©2010 Henk van Kampen. All rights reserved.

Trace your Dutch roots is also present on facebook - genealogy wise - twitter - flickr.