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Dutch privacy laws are strict and restrict access to records of people born less than 100 years ago. If you are searching for living people, they will be the only ones who can access their records.

Their cooperation and permission is also necessary if you want them to take a DNA test for you.

See the article on proving my descent from my mother for an example.

Three generations: Yvette, mother Els, grandmother Toos

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So you’re of Dutch descent and want to take a DNA test to find cousins in the Netherlands or learn more about your ancestors. How do you go about doing that?

In general, Dutch people are guarded about their privacy. Many people in the Netherlands have very complete trees because of the excellent records and don’t feel the need for DNA testing. As a result, DNA testing for genealogical purposes is not that common in the Netherlands, though recent marketing campaigns have started to make it more popular.

To maximize your chances of finding matches, you want to be in the databases of all the different testing companies. Check their Terms & Conditions to make sure you agree with the way they can use your data before taking the test. I recommend starting with autosomal tests. If your brick wall is further back in time, you may consider Y-DNA testing or Mitochondrial testing.

Autosomal DNA

Autosomal DNA testing is used for tracing ancestors in both the male and female lines in the past six or so generations, although you can share autosomal DNA with more distant ancestors. Autosomal DNA tests are the most popular DNA tests.

Autosomes are the 22 pairs of non-sex chromosomes. A parent passes on one chromosome of each pair to a child. The chromosome can be the full paternal chromosome or the full maternal chromosome of the parent, but usually is a mix of the two thanks to cross-over and recombination. For the child, half their autosomal DNA will come from your the and half will come from the father, but before that, it’s pretty random which grandparent contributed which segment.

By comparing your autosomal DNA with that of other people in the database, the testing company finds matches. These people share segments of DNA with you. The more autosomal DNA you share, the closer the connection.

Since autosomal DNA isn’t limited to one specific line, it’s the most popular DNA test. It can help you find matches who share an  ancestor about six generations ago, or even further. Beyond second cousins, there are no guarantees that you will share autosomal DNA, but you can share autosomal DNA with much more distant cousins.

Autosomal DNA tests will give you two types of results:

  • Lists of matches; people who have taken the same test and who share autosomal DNA with you. This is the most useful part of the result for genealogical purposes.
  • Ethnicity predictions, which can be pretty bad below the continent level and should be taken with a grain of salt. Many people are fascinated by these results though, so they can be the reason for people to test.

Autosomal testing strategy:

  1. Take an autosomal DNA test at FamilyTreeDNA. This is called the “FamilyFinder” test. For a long time, FamilyTreeDNA was the most popular DNA test in the Netherlands, since they were the only company to ship to the Netherlands for a reasonable price. An added advantage of testing with FamilyTreeDNA directly is that they bank your DNA for future testing. Instead of taking the FamilyFinder test, you can also upload the raw data from your Ancestry or 23andME test but these tests aren’t fully compatible and won’t give you all the matches, and since uploading results doesn’t store the sample, I recommend testing at FamilyTreeDNA directly.
  2. Upload your FamilyTreedNA data to MyHeritage. Many Dutch people use MyHeritage for their online trees. MyHeritage is marketing their DNA test on Dutch TV and to Dutch people on social media, so it’s become the most popular place for Dutch people to test. MyHeritage uses the same lab as FamilyTreeDNA so uploading those test results will give you all the matches. You can also upload your Ancestry or 23andMe results, but they may miss some of the more distant cousins. The upload to MyHeritage is free.
  3. Upload any of your tests to GedMatch. This is a free service, though more advanced tools require a donation. GedMatch allows you to compare your kit to people who tested at different companies and chose to upload to GedMatch. It gives you different tools to analyze your DNA and ethnicity. If you tested at multiple companies, only upload one result. Having multiple tests for the same person in the database will just duplicate information and be an unnecessary burden on this free service.
  4. Take a test at Ancestry. They only offer autosomal testing and have the largest database in the wold. The majority of their users are from the United States. This test has only been available in the Netherlands for a few years, and is not advertized in the Netherlands. Few people from the Netherlands use this, but you may find Americans of Dutch descent. Ancestry’s genetic communities may allow you to filter for people who appear genetically Dutch. Ancestry does not accept uploads from other companies, so if you want to be in their database, you have to buy a test with them.
  5. Take a test at 23andME. Either the “Ancestry Service” or the “Health and Ancestry Service” is fine. Some Dutch people take this test to find out about about genetic traits and health risks. 23andMe does not accept transfers from other companies, so if you want to be in their database, you have to buy a test with them.

These tests are aimed at giving you the optimal results for finding Dutch matches. But if you can only afford one test, I would recommend testing at Ancestry and uploading those results to FamilyTreeDNA, MyHeritage and GedMatch.

You want to test as many family members as you can, especially from the oldest generation since they will share the most DNA with any particular ancestor. Siblings inherit different segments of DNA from their parents, so if parents aren’t available, test as many siblings (or aunts and uncles) as you can. Testing first and second cousins is also helpful, since they can help you figure out what side of your tree a match is on. The more people in your family you test, the easier it will be to sort out your matches and see what line the shared ancestor must be on.

Y-DNA test

Y-DNA testing is used to trace the strict male line. The Y-chromosome is one of chromosomes that determine the sex of the child. It is passed on intact (with a chance of some mutations) from father to son. A Y-DNA test compares markers with other people who took the test. The more markers you share, the more likely it is that you are closely related. Since only men have a Y-chromosome, only men can take a Y-DNA test.

Taking a Y-DNA test is most useful if you have a more distant brick wall. You can test a brother, father, uncle, cousin or any other male in the strict male line (usually: family name) you’re interested in. For example, if you’re a woman interested in your father’s male line, you can test your father or brother. If you’re interested in your mother’s male line, you can test your mother’s brother or maternal grandfather.

If you find a close Y-match, the number of differences in markers will give you a rough estimate of how many generations ago the shared ancestor was. If you and your Y-match both take an autosomal test, you may be able to refine that estimate.

You can order Y-DNA tests from FamilyTreeDNA. I recommend starting at 37 markers. If you don’t have any matches at that level, chances are slim that you will have good matches at a higher level. If you do have many matches, you can always upgrade later.

You can join the Netherlands DNA Project or a project dedicated to your haplogroup to compare your DNA with others. There may even be a surname project that sorts out the different families by that name.

Mitochondrial DNA

Mitochondrial DNA testing is used to trace the strict female line. Mitochondrial DNA is passed on by the mother to all her children. Both men and women can test, but only women pass it on so the test will only reflect their maternal line. Mitochondrial DNA mutates very slowly, much slower than Y-DNA, so even a perfect mtDNA match could mean that the shared ancestor was hundreds or thousands of years ago.

Mitochondrial DNA tests are expensive, so few people take them. Combined with the slow mutation rate, this makes a mitochondrial DNA test not good for “fishing” for cousins to help you break down brick walls. They can help you prove a line though, for example if you want to know which of two wives was your ancestor. You could test known strict female-line descendants of the candidates and compare them to a strict female-line descendant of your brick wall ancestor. Taking a mtDNA test will also help to build the databases, so in the future more people will find matches.

If you want to do a mitochondrial DNA test, I recommend the Full Sequence Test from FamilyTreeDNA. This is the highest resolution test. There are cheaper tests that only test part of the mitochondrial DNA, but any matches you find there could share ancestors many thousands or even tens of thousands of year ago.

You can join the Netherlands project or Benelux mtDNA project to compare your results with others from the area.

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The National Genealogical Society Family History Conference will be held in Grand Rapids, Michigan from 2-5 May 2018. Several presenters including myself will be giving talks about Dutch Genealogy (see the full program). I have already heard from several blog and newsletter readers who plan on coming and can’t wait to meet you there.

To be able to meet as many of you as I can and to give you a chance to meet each other, I am inviting all Dutch Genealogy readers to come to a meet-and-greet on Thursday May 3, 2018. We will meet in the lobby of the Amway Grand Hotel on 3 May 2018 at 5.30 PM. The hotel is connected to the conference venue (DeVos Place) and is just a short walk away. It will be a chance to connect with people who share an interest in our Dutch heritage and I can answer short questions you may have about doing research in the Netherlands.

Note that this is a different location than originally announced. The original location will close early and is not a good place to meet. Fellow Dutch genealogy researcher and NGS speaker Mary Risseeuw will be gathering people in the conference hall (look for the orange sign) and directing them to the hotel lobby, or you can go by yourself. Yvette Hoitink will be waiting for you in the lobby of the Amway Grand Hotel.

You don’t have to sign up if you want to come to the meet-and-greet. If you like, you can share that’s you’re going on the event’s Facebook page.

The event is unofficial and not affiliated with the NGS conference. Please do not contact conference organizers as they are not involved with the gathering.

See you there!

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A turfdrager was a peat carrier. Peat was an important fuel, both for private homes and for businesses like breweries and bakeries.

Peat carrier. Credits: J. Schenkman, Prentenboek (1850); Digitale Bibliotheek voor de Nederlandse Letteren.

An abstract of the instructions for the peat carriers in Leeuwarden from 1660 gives an impression of the regulations that a peat carrier was expected to live by.

Articles that regulate the peat carriers of this city

  • Nobody will be admitted as peat carrier without the consent and approbation of the magistrate of the city.
  • Peat carriers are required to carry and bring the peat to those locations, including attics, sheds, and otherwise, that the buyers indicate.
  • The peat carriers will maintain the baskets used to carry the peat at their expense, which shall be marked with the city coat of arms.
  • The peat carriers shall be required to allot the peat as soon as somebody purchases some peat, in the presence of the overseer.
  • That the peat carriers, once they start a task, will be required along the peat measurers, regardless whether there are one, two, three or more barges of peat, to carry the peat from them and to labor until the work is finished and not be allowed to quit or do other work.
  • That each peat carrier for carrying light peat to bakers, brewers, soap makers, painters, malt makers, and other persons who use light peat for their trade, shall receive for each barge six “stuivers” [5 cent pieces] or proportionally less.
  • And from “baggelaer” and other heavy peat to be stored at the citizens and residents for each barge 10 stuivers or proportionally less.
  • That the peat carriers in carrying in the peat shall satisfy themselves with such drink beer as the buyer of the peat finds fit to provide, and that nobody is required to pour “wip” or other beer, and that they cannot be provided money, wine, or beer, by the barge operators.
  • That the peat carriers while carrying peat will not be allowed to drink or use any tobacco, outside nor inside the house, to prevent accidents.
  • That carrying peat as mentioned above also includes the peat at the Vliet and outside this city if it is stored inside the city, if the council permitted it.
Source

Court (Leeuwarden), Klein Instructiebook [small instruction book], 1660-1751, fol. 6-8v, instruction for peat carriers (16 July 1660); browsable images, AlleFriezen (http://www.allefriezen.nl : accessed 30 November 2017), query voornaam: Nedergerecht Leeuwarden.

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The National Genealogical Society Family History Conference will be held in Grand Rapids, Michigan from 2-5 May 2018. Several presenters including myself will be giving talks about Dutch Genealogy (see the full program). I have already heard from several blog and newsletter readers who plan on coming and can’t wait to meet you there.

Dutch Genealogy Meet-and-Greet

To be able to meet as many of you as I can and to give you a chance to meet each other, I am inviting all Dutch Genealogy readers to come to a meet-and-greet on Thursday May 3, 2018. We will meet in the lobby of the conference venue, DeVos Place, at 5.30PM. It will be a chance to connect with people who share an interest in our Dutch heritage and I can answer short questions you may have about doing research in the Netherlands.

Orange dot: Location of the Dutch Genealogy Meetup in the DeVos lobby

Dinner

After the meet-and-greet, fellow genealogist Elaine Obbink Zimmerman is organizing a dinner for people who are interested in Dutch genealogy. People who want to join Elaine for dinner will meet at a place to be determined within walking distance from the conference center between 6:30 pm and 7:30 pm on Thursday May 3, 2018. The plan is to gather at a place where one pays for their own food/drinks/gratuity themselves to eliminate a room charge.  The agenda is simple- there isn’t one!  Elaine will offer a few opening remarks. This is a chance to sit with friends – old and new – to discuss Dutch Genealogy. Only those who made advance reservations will be admitted due space limitations.

Contact Elaine Obbink Zimmerman at elaine@familythreadsgenealogy.com to make your dinner reservations by April 12th.  Provide your Name(s), email address, and cell phone number. You will be contacted with more details of the exact location.

You don’t have to sign up if you just want to come to the meet-and-greet. 

These events are unofficial and not affiliated with the NGS conference. Please do not contact conference organizers as they are not involved with the gatherings.

See you there!

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Here is an overview of the new sources, projects, and news about archives that were announced last month.

Online records
  • Many civil registration records from the Dutch East Indies have been published by FamilySearch and can be accessed via the Catalog and place name. Access to these scans is limited to Family History Centers, where they can be viewed on internet computers. [Source: Indische Genealogische Vereniging]
  • Population registers (1820-1850) and World War I refugee registers (1914-1918) from Nijmegen are now available in the Digital Reading Room of the Nijmegen Regional Archives.
  • The Amsterdam City Archives scanned about 450 Amsterdam charters, mostly from the 1400s and 1500s. They can be accessed via Finding Aid 5055.
  • Eric Schmidt published transcribed and indexed sources from Zeeuws-Vlaanderen (southern part of Zeeland) on his website. This includes church and town records from Aardenburg, Axel, Cadzand, Heille, Nieuwvliet, Retranchement, Sint Anna ter Muiden, Sint Kruis, Sluis, Terneuzen, Zaamslag, and Zuidzande.
  • Indexes and transcriptions of court records of Aalten and Bredevoort were published at GenealogieDomein.
  • Digital images of the tax records of The Hague, Haagambacht, Hondertland, Monster, Rijswijk, and Wateringen from the 1500s were added to Van Papier naar Digitaal.
  • Het Utrechts Archief published almost 200,000 pages of medieval records of the Dom Chapter, the administration of the church in Utrecht. The scans can be accessed via the finding aid of the Dom Chapter.

Income register from 1394, call no. 626-1 (public domain)

Archives
  • The Gelders Archief announced they’ve increased the capacity of their popular free scanning on demand service. Researchers may now request two files per week to be scanned. [Source: Gelders Archief]
  • Access restrictions on files regarding pardons for death penalties have been partially lifted. Archives can now provide acccess if the person requesting the pardon is deceased. Since the death penalty was taken out of the criminal code in 1870, in practice this means that all the records are now available to researchers. They can be accessed at the National Archives in The Hague, record group 2.09.71. [Source: Staatscourant 29 March 2018]

Execution of the holy Euphrasia, 1710. Credits: Casper Luyken, collection Rijksmuseum (public domain)

Projects
  • The International Institute of Social History is looking for volunteers to index membership cards of the Amsterdam diamond workers union. The majority of members were Jewish.
  • The Breda City Archives has started a volunteer project to improve the index of the civil registration of Breda and surrounding municipalities by completing the names and adding the dates of birth and death rather than just initials and record dates. See the project page for more information.
  • The Eemland Archives has started a volunteer project to index the population registers of Soest (1850-1919). See the project page for more information.
  • The Gelders Archief started a volunteer project to create abstracts of the Court Records of Arnhem before 1800. [Source: Gelders Archief]
  • The Tilburg Regional Archives has added notarial records of Hooge en Lage Zwaluwe, Terheijden, Raamsdonk, and Oosterhout to the VeleHanden [Many Hands] website to be indexed by volunteers. See the project page for more information.

Public notary in his office. Credits: Job Berckheyde, collection RKD.

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“Heemkunde” is the study of the home environment. The word “heem” means home or place of origin. “Kunde” is study or science.

Many towns or regions have their own heemkundevereniging, historical societies. They will often give lectures, organize excursions, or have a magazine dedicated to the history of the area. Some heemkundeverenigingen have a genealogy section. They are great places to ask to identify or locate old family photos.

The Stamboomgids website has a list of heemkundeverenigingen with links to their website. Many of these societies have Facebook pages, which makes it easy to ask questions.

View of The Hague in the 1600s. Credits: C. Springer, K. Karsen, collection Rijksmuseum (public domain)

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Vrijdag is the Dutch term for Friday. Goede Vrijdag is Good Friday.

Good Friday at the Keukenhof tulip park, 1960. Credits: Wim van Rossem, collection Nationaal Archief (CC-0)

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If you’re not Dutch, you may wonder if a first name is male or female. You can consult the First Name Database to search for the name. It will give you statistics on how many men (“m”) and women (“v”) had that name in the past 100 years. You can see a graph that shows the popularity of the name over time. You can even click “verspreiding” to see the provinces where the name is most popular.

Yvette is predominantly a female name, which was the most popular in the 1970s.

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If you’re looking for the Dutch origins of your immigrant ancestor, keep in mind that the name originally could have been longer than the name the family used in the new country. Long names were often shortened to make them easier to pronounce in another language.

After some of my Esselinkpas cousins emigrated to Michigan in the 1800s, they went by Pas. Some members of the Roerdinkveldboom family went by Veldboom after emigration.

Another thing to keep in mind is that there might be family members who did not change their name. I’ve seen cases where some siblings kept the original name while others shortened the name. There might be records that show family members with their original name, particularly Dutch records in the new country such as Dutch church records or newspapers. Researching the whole family, and finding a range of records about your immigrant ancestor and their associates may give you clues to what the original name might have been.

Hendrik Jan Esselinkpas, known as Pas, and his wife Gerritje Damkot

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