Trace your Dutch roots online

Find your Dutch ancestors on the internet

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Trace your Dutch roots online

This guide aims to give you an introduction into the many possibilities for genealogy research via the internet. It is by no means exhaustive.

The internet landscape is constantly changing. Websites come and go, new resources are added all the time, and some disappear without a trace. We will try to keep this guide up to date, but we will not entirely be able to prevent parts of this guide to become outdated.

To the best of our knowledge, all sites mentioned in this guide are free.

If this guide has helped you to trace your Dutch ancestors, I would appreciate a reaction in my guestbook, or via the feedback page.

Dutch genealogy sources available on the internet

Please note: This article refers to the Genlias project. This project was discontinued at the end of 2012. Its successor is You can read more here.

If you want to research your Dutch ancestors via the internet, your starting point should be the Genlias website. Genlias is a joint product of the regional history centres and state archives in the Netherlands. Genlias contains records from the civil register, and sometimes the church books. It is a work in progress, and currently far from complete, but already contains over 10 million records. Genlias has an English interface (click "English" in the top right), but all information it contains is in Dutch. To search, click "Searching in Genlias", then "Searching in Genlias database" (or go directly to the search page). It may be a good idea to read the Search instructions and Explanation of the results first. Read my Genlias article for more information.

Not all places have data in Genlias. Notable omissions are the three largest Dutch cities: Amsterdam and Rotterdam do not have any records in Genlias, and The Hague just a few. (Amsterdam is expected to be included in the near future).

Some Amsterdam records can be found on the website of the Amsterdam city archive. The most important are the baptisms (1564-1811). Their website is only available in Dutch.

Rotterdam has the excellent Rotterdam Municipal Archives' Digital Family Tree. Click on "english" at the top right for an English interface. The website contains most of the church books (covering the period 1573-1811) and a large part of the civil register (1811-1950).

The Hague has created a virtual study center, that should eventually have the same information available as their study center in the The Hague city archive. It currently has scans of most of their civil registry records. The website is hard to navigate, there is no searchable index, and it does not have an English interface.

In addition to Genlias, there are many regional databases. We just list the most important ones here: Tresoar (Friesland), Drenlias (Drenthe), Alle Groningers (Groningen), Zeeuwen gezocht (Zeeland) and Brabants Historisch Informatie Centrum (Brabant).

An index to the many available online source transcriptions and indexes can be found on Digital Resources Netherlands and Belgium.

Getting help

Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness is a worldwide organisation of volunteers doing lookups for others who can't do these themselves, usually because of the distance. Their website lists several Dutch volunteers willing to help you finding your Dutch ancestors. Read their list of Frequently Asked Questions before making a request, and don't ask for other favours than those that are offered.

Another way to get help, or just discuss your progress with others searching their Dutch ancestors, is asking a question, or taking part in an existing discussion, on one of the many message boards available on the internet. A message board is an electronic bulletin board, accessible on e.g. a website, or via e-mail. Participants engage in discussions, or try to help each other with their queries.

The most important international message boards related to genealogy are the Ancestry Message Boards, a large number of boards dealing with just about every genealogy-related topic you can think of. Each board deals with one topic. You try to find the most relevant board, and ask your question. Language on most of the boards is English. The boards dealing with Dutch topics are frequented by both American and Dutch researchers (and a few others). Discussions on these boards remain visible for a long time, and sometimes questions are answered many years after they are asked, so make sure you keep your contact information up to date.

The single-most important forum dealing with Dutch (and Belgian) genealogy is soc.genealogy.benelux, also available at Google groups. Most of the participants are Dutch. Language is normally Dutch, but English questions and discussions are welcomed.

The regional pages on this website also list several regional boards.

Whatever method you try to get help, try to be as specific as possible. Dates and places are important. If you don't know the date, say so, and specify what you do know, at the very least give an indication of which century you're talking about. Specific questions with ample information are far more likely to get a useful answer than general, vague questions like "Please tell me everything you know about the surname such-and-such."

Family trees published by other users

You will have ancestors in common with other researchers, so it may be a good idea to search other family trees. Many trees are published on the internet.

The two major American databases with user provided data - Rootsweb Worldconnect and Family Search - also contain a lot of Dutch families. A popular European database is Geneanet. The search results on geneanet will usually contain contact information and often a link to the website of the provider of the data. Searching Rootsweb, Worldconnect or Geneanet is a good way to find (and get in touch with) distant cousins researching the same families as you. Do take data you find in these databases with a grain of salt - they contain lots of errors, and some of the family trees in these databases seem to be completely made up.

There is currently no good index to the many personal home pages containing family trees. Listings that do exist only cover a fraction of what is available. These listings include the Central Bureau for Genealogy (enter your name, press "zoek", press "homepages" at the bottom row), Swinx (a hopelessly out of date website index; to search, choose a letter from the drop-down at the top of the page), Kwartierstraat, and Stamboomgids (choose "Familienamen", somewhere in the middle of the page). The Personal Home Pages Index on Cyndi's list also contains many Dutch pages.

A general internet search engine, like Google, can also be an excellent way to find data.

Publishing your own family tree

A good way to get in touch with other researchers and exchange information is to publish your own family tree on the internet. If you want to do this, your main options are adding your data to a database like Rootsweb Worldconnect, or creating your own website. Of course, you don't have to limit yourself to one option.

To add your family tree to a database, you will usually have to fill out a form to provide some basic data about you, like your contact details. After that, you will need to provide your family tree, usually in the form of a Gedcom file. If you use a computer program for your family tree, this program should be able to create this file for you. Be careful that the file does not contain any information you don't want to make public.

A good, but time-consuming, way to present your research results online is to create and maintain your own website. Most genealogy software can create the web pages, but you will probably need to write the home page for your site yourself. Rootsweb offers free web space where you can place your website (click Requests for Web Space, then Freepages Accounts). Read and agree to the agreement and follow the instructions.