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The size of the Netherlands is 16,033 sq mi, a little more than half the size of South Carolina, with an estimated population of 16,491,852 (as of 8 March 2009), which is 3.68 times the population of South Carolina. This map details the religious distribution in 1849Religions in the Netherlands 1849


Population Registers

Population registers [bevolkingsregisters] in the Netherlands are a very important source of genealogical information. They track the movement of people from one residence to another. Officially, population registers began for each municipality on l January 1850 and were based on the 3rd National Census, taken 19 November 1849. Some places started using these kind of records earlier (for example, the province of Zuid-Holland in 1845, or part of Gelderland in 1811).

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.

Information from 1850 to 1920 is kept in a book or register. The records list each member of the household and his or her birth date and place, relationship to the head of the household, marital status, occupation, religion, arrival date and where he or she moved from, removal date and where he or she moved to, and death date. The records also include notes, which contain emigration information. Earlier books are organized by neighborhood, street, and house number. Later books are alphabetical by the surname of the head of the household. Frequently the books are fully indexed.

Most municipalities started using cards instead of books in 1920. Called family cards [gezinskaarten], these were used until 1940, when a new system came into effect.

The size and movement of the population after 1940 was recorded using person cards [persoonskaarten]. These exist from 1940 to 1 October 1994. Some cards exist for 1938 and 1939. Information about each person was entered onto an individual card instead of being listed as part of a family group. The cards were maintained by the municipal administration. When someone moved, the card was forwarded to the new municipality. When the person died, the card was sent to the Central Office for Statistics [Centraal Bureau voor de Statistiek], then forwarded onto the Central Office for Genealogy for safekeeping.

The cards contain a person’s name, birth date and place, nationality, occupation, parents’ names, parents’ birth date and place, marriage date and place, spouse’s name, spouse’s birth date and place, spouse’s death date and place, address of each residence and date moved, and death date and place. The cards also give the children’s names, birth dates and places, spouses, and marriage dates. Earlier cards give religion and cause of death.

Person lists [persoonslijsten] replaced the person cards on 1 October 1994. As of that date the information is now kept in electronic form. When a person dies, a printout is made and sent to the Central Office for Statistics and then on to the Central Office for Genealogy.

Locating Population Registers

Online pre-1940

Population registers are frequently becoming available online. Many records in Friesland, Gelderland, Limburg, Utrecht, Zeeland and Zuid-Holland and a few from Groningen, Noord-Brabant, Noord-Holland and Overijssel are now available on Zoekakten. Some provincial archives have began indexing records and putting them on WieWasWie. Some population registers can be found on Geneaknowhow. A good site for the Achterhoek region is Bevolkingsregister Achterhoek region.


Population registrationrecords are kept either in the municipal archives [gemeentearchieven] or in the municipal hall [gemeentesecretarie]. If they are in the archive they are open to the public, usually until 1900 or 1920, depending on the archive. Records in the town hall are, by rule, not open to the public, but population registers are generally available for inspection to about 1900. If the population registers you are seeking are not public, you may obtain an extract for a small fee. Write to the municipal administration as outlined below:


Online post-1940

Cards and Lists 1940–Present. You may receive an extract of personal cards [persoonskaarten] and person lists [persoonslijsten] of deceased individuals by contacting the Central Bureau for Genealogy http://www.cbg.nlExtracts are provided for genealogical purposes. You will be charged for each Personal Record Card requested. If you request information on 8 family members, you will be charged for 8 search operations whether or not they are successful. Copies of Excerpts are € 3.40 each. There is a minimum charge of € 5.05. There is a discount when you order over 100 Copies of Excerpts at one time; those fees are € 3.05 per copy. In case you are interested in knowing the number of cards available on a particular family name, please send a written request for a count. The charge for this service is € 12.55 per family name. It is possible to receive a yearly subscription of person lists for individuals with the same surname. Records of living people and recently deceased are unavailable.

Records at the Family History Library

Many of the population registers to about 1920 have been filmed by the Family History Library. Check the Place search of the catalog under:



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  • This page was last modified on 25 November 2015, at 05:25.
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