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The Netherlands Census
Census Records and Population Registers
In the Netherlands, a census(volkstelling) is a count of the population at a certain point in time. Population registers(Bevolkingregisters) record individuals over a period of time, usually 10 years. This article deals with censuses only. Population registers are far more commonly used by genealogists. See the Population Registers for more information.
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.
Censuses in Dutch research may not be as helpful as censuses from other countries because better sources such as church records, civil registration and population registers are available in the Netherlands.
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.
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. An index and images are available at Tresoar
The 1748 census 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.Most records, but not for either Zwolle or Kampen can accessed at the Historisch Centrum Overijssel. It has also 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. Records for some places can be found on Van Papier Naar Digitaal
1811 Registre Civique
The modern era of Dutch population record keeping began 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 1829 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 abandoned 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
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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