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Census Records and Population Registers

A census is a count and description of the population. Censuses are taken by the national government of the Netherlands and also by local and provincial governments. The local censuses are taken primarily for taxation and military purposes.

Censuses in Dutch research may not be as helpful as censuses from other countries because better sources such as church records and civil registration are available in the Netherlands.

Family Picture Netherlands.jpg

Where available, census records can provide family relationships, ages, years of birth, marital statuses, religions, and places of birth. They can provide information where all or portions of other records are missing. Generally, you will find more complete family information in more recent censuses. Use the information with caution, however; it may have been given to a census taker by any member of the family or a neighbor, and so some information may have been incorrect or deliberately falsified.

A population register is a system of record keeping used especially in northwestern Europe whereby household heads report changes in status of members of their household. The system was introduced in the Netherlands on 1 January 1850 and continued until replaced by the Gezinskaarten system in 1920.

Census Records

Early Incomplete Censuses and Census Substitutes

18th Century Records

The first national census dates from the 19th century but there were earlier provincial or regional census takings.

A Frisian census of 1714 is believed to have been taken throughout the region, but only the registers of Franeker and Barradeel survive.There is little data recorded including the names of the household heads and the total of household members subdivided only into those over and under the age of seven.

The 1744 Descriptions of families (Omschrijvinge van familiën) survives complete for the whole of Friesland. Again, there is little data: the names of the household heads and the total persons in the household. This has been filmed by the Family History Library: Omschrijving van families in Friesland, 1744.

The 1748 census (Volkstelling) for Overijssel survives in its entirety. However, the recording of data was not undertaken in an uniform way: some registers just record the name of the household head whilst others have the names of all the household members. It has been filmed by the Family History Library: Overijssel Nederland, Volkstelling, 1748.

The 1749 Frisian Recording of families and persons (Opteekeninge der familiën en persoonen) is also complete but contains only a little more information than the other early Frisian censuses.

A 1749 provincial census of Gelderland contains more information. Recorded was the name of the household head and his occupation; wives are recorded without names as 'his wife' and children and servants are recorded only in total although children are subdivided by age in spans of 5 years. Various tax data is also recorded.

Inspired by the French revolution and following the disastrous war against the English, Dutch revolutionaries overthrew the old regime in 1795. The new democratic regime sought to modernise administrative arrangements and undertook a census in parts of the country in 1795. Those records which survive are held by the relevant provincial archive.

1811 Registre Civique

The modern era of Dutch population record keeping begins under French occupation. In 1811, civil registration begins and the introduction of adult male suffrage under the Code Civil (or Code Napoleon) resulted in the creation of a voters' list (registre civique) by the local authorities (mairie) usually with a copy forwarded to the department. These census substitutes will be found in the municipal and provincial archives.

Decennial Censuses 1829 - 1930

A national census was conducted by the Ministry of Home Affairs from 1929 to 1889 then by Statistics Netherlands from 1899 to 1930.

Post War Censuses

Three national censuses were undertaken by Statistics Netherlands (Centraal Bureau voor de Statistiek - Central Agency for Statistics) in 1947, 1960 and 1971. This approach was abandonned in favour of a new model: in 1981 and 1991 a "virtual census" was undertaken based on data in the Population Registers and surveys.

Census Records at the Family History Library

The Family History Library has copies of many census records. These are listed in the “Locality Search” section of the catalog under:

NETHERLANDS, [PROVINCE] – CENSUS NETHERLANDS, [PROVINCE], [TOWN]–CENSUS

An index of surnames for the 1947 national census has been published. There is a volume for each province and also one for the cities of Amsterdam, ’s-Gravenhage, and Rotterdam. To find these books, look in the “Locality Search” section of the catalog under:

NETHERLANDS, [PROVINCE] – CENSUS – 1947 – INDEXES

NETHERLANDS, [PROVINCE], [TOWN] –CENSUS – 1947 – INDEXES 12

Population Registers

The registers were bound volumes in each municipality (gemeente). A new series was commenced after the census every ten years.

In some places, the records are arranged house to house, street by street. Elsewhere, the households registered in alphabetical order. some volumes have a index by family name in the front or back of the volume.

The following details of the inhabitants may be found:

  • first and last names and gender
  • dates and places of birth
  • relation to the main occupant of the address (spouse, child or servant)
  • marital status
  • occupation (s)
  • religion (sometimes missing)
  • address
  • date of arrival in the municipality and the previous residence
  • if the family moves, when and whither

Changes (births, deaths, marriages, departures, arrivals) in a household in the course of the ten years covered by the register were added or the changed information struck out. The striking out can sometimes make it difficult to read the information struck out.

Another type of Population records (per religion) is found at: Religious division in the Netherlands by municipality at the census of 1849

Population Registers at the Family History Library

The Family History Library has copies of many census records. These are listed in the “Locality Search” section of the catalog under:

NETHERLANDS, [PROVINCE] – CENSUS NETHERLANDS, [PROVINCE], [TOWN]–POPULATION

External Links

Aggregated Census Data

Documents were compiled from abstracted data collected in a census. These may be accessed at Dutch Censuses 1795-1971.



 

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