Gelderland, The Netherlands Genealogy

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Guide to Gelderland, The Netherlands ancestry, family history, and genealogy: birth records, marriage records, death records, census records, family history, and military records.

Gelderland Wiki Topics
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Beginning Research
Record Types
Gelderland Background
Local Research Resources
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Background Information

Arnhem River

  • For Geographical and Historical information see: Gelderland
  • The capital city of Gelderland is Arnhem. See: Arnhem
  • At the end of World War II some of the vital records stored at the Rijksarchief in Arnhem were destroyed. Records of Ammerzoden, Doetinchem, and others were almost completely destroyed. For more detailed information on which records were included (see)
  • During the middle of the nineteenth century, poor crops, a growing population and the need for religious freedom caused many people in Gelderland to consider emigrating. Many of them did. Most of the people who emigrated from Gelderland ended up in Michigan, Wisconsin and New York. At the end of the 19th century, another emigration wave hit. People tended to emigrate to the same destinations as the generation before them.

Jurisdictions in Gelderland

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Abolished municipalities

The following municipalities were abolished on 1 January 2005; see further information(in Dutch) for more detailed information on these changes.

These municipalities were merged with neighbouring ones:

  • Angerlo was merged into Zevenaar.
  • Dinxperlo was merged into Aalten.
  • Gorssel was merged into Lochem.
  • Lichtenvoorde was merged into Groenlo (later: Oost Gelre, see below).
  • Warnsveld was merged into Zutphen.
  • Wehl was merged into Doetinchem.

These municipalities were merged and given a new name:

  • Borculo, Eibergen, Neede, and Ruurlo became Berkelland.
  • Hengelo, Hummelo en Keppel, Steenderen, Vorden, and Zelhem became Bronckhorst.
  • Bergh and Didam became Montferland.
  • Gendringen and Wisch became Oude IJsselstreek.
  • Lichtenvoorde, Groenlo, Lievelde, Zieuwent and smaller neighbouring villages became Oost Gelre.

Research Methods

Most of your genealogical research for Gelderland will be in three main record types: civil registration, church records and population registers . This article will teach you methods for locating and searching these two record groups.

Civil Registration (Burgelijke Stand)

  • Civil registration records are government records of births, marriages, and deaths. Access to Netherlands Civil Registration records online is excellent. There is usually no longer any need to use microfilms from the Family History Library, or to visit archives. Nearly all records have survived, since two copies were made of each record and stored separately.
  • Dates: Civil registration began 1 March 1811 while under French rule. Law allows birth records up to 1915, marriage records up to 1940 and death records up to 1965 to be released to the public as of 2016. Archives can be up to 10 years behind putting them online.
  • Contents:
    • Births(Geboorten): Child’s name, birth date and place; parents’ names, ages, residence, and occupation: witnesses’ name, ages, occupations, residences; yearly indexes.
    • Marriages(Huwelijken): Bride and groom names, ages, residences, occupations, birth places; date and place of the marriage; parents' names, residences, occupations, whether living; the names of the witnesses, their ages, occupations, residence, and relationship to the bride or groom, if any; and officer who performed ceremony, former spouses, yearly indexes.
    • Marriage supplements(Huwelijksbijlagen): Copies of birth or baptism records of bride and groom; military conscription record of groom, containing name, birthdate, and parents, and sometimes a physical description; copies of death or burial records of deceased former spouses; copies of death or burial records of parents, if the marrying person is under 30 (and sometimes if they are over 30); (pre-1850), if both parents are dead, death or burial records of grandparents.
    • Death registers(Overlijdens): Deceased's name, age, death date and place, occupation, birth place; name of spouse(s), parents’ names; names of the witnesses, their ages, occupations, residence, and relationship if any.
  • To learn more about The Netherlands Civil Registration, read Netherlands Civil Registration.


Online Digital Records for Civil Registration

Digital copies of civil registration can be searched online:

Church Records (DTB)

  • Church records are the main sources for births, marriages and deaths in the Netherlands between about 1550 and 1811.They recorded baptisms (or circumcisions), marriages and burials and sometimes confirmations, membership records and conversions.
  • In the late 1500s Churches began to mandate that registers of baptisms and marriages were kept. Burials were often not recorded at first. Records do not always exist for the period before 1700.
  • Records kept by Catholics are written in Latin. Most other records will be written in Dutch.
  • The main types of Church records are
    • Baptisms(Dopen): Child’s name,baptism date, sometimes birth date, parents’ names and residence: witnesses’ name.
    • Marriages(Trouwen): Bride and groom names, sometimes ages, residences and/or birthplace, date and place of the marriage; parents' names,; the names of the witnesses and relationship to the bride or groom, if any, former spouses.
    • Burials(Begraven): Deceased's name, death date and place, name of spouse(s),
  • Church records continued to be kept after the introduction of civil registration, but after 1811 they were mostly superseded by Civil Registration.
  • To learn more about church records, see Netherlands Church Records.

Online Digital Records for Church Records

Population Registers (Bevolkingregisters)

See Netherlands Population for further information.

From 1850 onwards the Government has recorded the address and basic details such as name, birthdate, birthplace, occupation and religion of all residents of the Netherlands.

  • From 1850-1940 these are on paper and public.
  • From 1940-1994 these are on paper and can be viewed on request (see below)
  • From 1994-present these are in digital format and can be viewed on request (see below)

Accessing Population Registers

  • From 1940 onwards. The records are only public if the person has been deceased for about two years. You must contact the Central Bureau for Genealogy, fill in an application form and pay the fee as explained on their website. Email it to pkpl@cbg.nl or post to
CBG/Center for Family History
Section Personcart and Personlist
PO Box 11755
2502 AT, The Hague
The Netherlands

If the record is found, it will also contain details about the main person's parents, spouse and children. Some information may be blanked out in the case of people deceased relatively recently.

Reading the Records

  • Records are most commonly written in Dutch or Latin. You do not have to be fluent these languages to read your documents! Genealogical records usually contain a limited vocabulary. Use this Dutch Genealogical Word List to translate the important points in the document.
  • Also, the handwriting can be slightly different, so you will want to watch these lessons, as needed, depending on the pre-dominant language in the region your ancestors lived:
Reading Dutch Handwritten Records Lesson 1: The Dutch Alphabet.
Reading Dutch Handwritten Records Lesson 2: Dutch Words and Dates.
Reading Dutch Handwritten Records Lesson 3: Reading Dutch Records.


Tips for Finding Your Ancestor in the Records

  • Effective use of civil registration and church records includes the following strategies:
  1. Identify your ancestor by finding his birth or christening record.
  2. When you find an ancestor’s birth or baptismal record, search for the births of siblings.
  3. Search for the parents’ marriage record. Typically, the marriage took place one or two years before the oldest child was born.
  4. Search for the parents' birth records. On the average, people married in their early 20s, so subtact 25 or so years from the marriage date for a starting year to search for the parents' birth records.
  5. Search the death registers for all family members.
  6. If you do not find earlier generations in the parish registers, search neighboring parishes.
  • Marriages were usually performed and recorded where the bride lived.
  • Do not overlook the importance of death records. Death records are especially helpful because they may provide important information about a person’s birth, spouse, and parents. Civil death records often exist for individuals for whom there are no birth or marriage records.


Websites