Netherlands - Dutch Civil Registration - Birth and Death Records (National Institute)
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Netherlands births and deaths are recorded in registers. Birth registers give information about the child and parents. Death registers give name of deceased, spouse and parents, when known.
The original content for this article was contributed by The National Institute for Genealogical Studies in May 2012. It is an excerpt from their course Research: Dutch Ancestors in the Netherlands by Susanna de Groot, PLCGS. The Institute offers over 200 comprehensive genealogy courses for a fee ($).
Birth registrations were recorded in the municipality where the event occurred. They were generally registered within a few days by either the father, a relative or family friend. The information that can be extracted from a birth registration includes:
- child’s given name(s)
- date, time and place of birth
- father’s name, age and occupation
- mother’s name, including maiden name, age and occupation
If a child was stillborn (levenloos or doodgeboren) or died soon after birth, it was not necessary to report the birth to the civil registrar. However, the death would be recorded and it will be stated in that record the child was stillborn.
When you are unfamiliar with the Dutch language, you may confuse the date of registration with the actual date of birth. Therefore it is important that you transcribe and then translate your document. To help you understand the format and the information of a birth registration, let us look at an example.
In the example document below you will find a copy of an actual birth registration from 1841. This is followed by a transcription and a translation of the document. You should always transcribe and then translate the document to be able to extract all pertinent information regarding your ancestor. This process can be cumbersome, but should be done so you do not miss an important clue.
The document starts with the date of birth registration (Tweenentwintigsten Maart Achtienhonderd Een - en - Veertig). The literal translation of the date is “two and twentieth March Eighteen hundred One and Forty.”
Next the place is stated as the Civil Registry Office of Amsterdam (Burgerlijken Stand der Stad Amsterdam).
The name of the person making the registration is next; Henricus Amen. We will not find out what Henricus’ relationship was until a little further into the document. We learn his occupation (beroep) was a wagon maker (wagonmaker) and he was, literally, “aged nine thirty Years” (oud negen dertig Jaren). He was living (wonende) at Guldenhandsteeg Kanton No. 124.
Next we learn he declared that on this day (verklaard dat op heden) at six o’clock in the morning in his house (voor middags ten zes ure, in het huis) a male child was born (is geboren een Kind van het mannelijke geslacht).
If we continue following this sentence we learn the child’s mother was Hendrica Beernink, had no occupation (beroep), living here (wonende alhier–meaning Amsterdam) and she was the spouse of Henricus Amen (uit Hendrica Beernink van beroep geen wonende alhier zijne echtgenoote).
Next we learn the given name(s) of the child: Wilhelmus Johannes Franciscus Henricus.
The next section of the document gives the witnesses names, occupations and ages, as well as the signatures of all involved in the registration. The witnesses may or may not be family, neighbours or friends. In some cases, the witnesses may have been just passing by the registry office at the time and asked to be the witness to the declaration.
In the birth document we learned that Wilhelmus Johannes Franciscus Henricus Amen was born at 6:00 a.m. on 22 March 1841, at Guldenhandsteeg, 124 in Amsterdam. His father was Henricus Amen, aged thirty-nine years and was a wagon maker. His mother was Hendrica Beernink, who lived in Amsterdam and was not employed. She was also the spouse of Henricus Amen. The witnesses’ relationships are not indicated; however, you should still record their information: Johan Michael Giersberg, wagon maker, thirty years old, living at Nuijenstraat, 1058, Amsterdam and Hendricus Gerardus de Jong, seaman, forty-two years old, living on Dijkstraat, Amsterdam.
|When transcribing your documents, use your Dutch-English dictionary to help you with the spelling of difficult to read words. For street names, use city maps; often the names have been in existence for many years and have not changed.|
Translating a Document
When you translate a document, you may want to use a translation tool, such as Bing Translator. Be cautious when using this tool because it does not always give you the correct translation and it sometimes returns the Dutch word. It also sometimes changes the meaning of what is being said. It is suggested you follow the document line for line along with the original as you translate, to get the true meaning of what is written.
Death Registrations (Overlijdens)
You may not always find a birth record, in the case of a stillbirth, or a marriage record for your ancestor in the Netherlands. Sometimes, the death registration will be the only record you will find of an ancestor’s existence.
Deaths were normally registered within a day or two in the municipality where the event occurred. However, this was not always the case. I have located a death registration of an ancestor who died at sea and the death registration was recorded in the municipality where his parents resided upon returning weeks later. Another example is my uncle’s death registration. He died in Austria near the end of World War II. His death was registered sixteen years later in the municipality where he last resided.
If the death date of your ancestor is unknown, use the indexes in the municipality where he/she resided to locate the registration. The indexes are also quite helpful in finding children that were stillborn or died very young. By using the indexes I have located several children to complete a family group, when family members had no knowledge of them. A child that was stillborn or died in infancy was rarely spoken of.
Death records of your ancestor will provide you with the following information:
- Date of registration
- Name of informant with their age, occupation and residence
- Name of the deceased
- Date and place of death
- Sometimes the time of death is included
- Place of birth
- Spouse’s name, if any, with their occupation and residence
- Parents’ names, with their occupation and residence
Below is an example of a death registration. In this document we learn that Johanna Christina Seel died about eight o’clock in the morning of 31 January 1922 in Amsterdam. Her husband, Wilhelmus Johannes Franciscus Henricus Amen and her parents, Hendrik Gerardus Seel and Johanna Christina Alffenaar, were all deceased prior to her death.
Information in this Wiki page is excerpted from the online course Research: Dutch Ancestors in the Netherlands offered by The National Institute for Genealogical Studies. To learn more about this course or other courses available from the Institute, see our website. We can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
We welcome updates and additions to this Wiki page.