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.
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.
- National Censuses. The first census of a national nature were the civil lists [listes civiques] or civil registers [registres civiques] of the French government taken in 1811. These records are housed in the state and municipal archives; however, they contain many mistakes and little information.
The Kingdom of the Netherlands held its first national census in 1829, and from this time censuses were taken every 10 years until 1929. Censuses were again taken in 1947, 1960, and 1971. Although they are national in nature, these census records are kept locally, usually in the municipal offices. When they are in the municipal archives they are available to the public. Some are on film at the Family History Library.
- Local Censuses. Census records exist for the province of Friesland for 1689, 1714, 1744, and 1796. Provincial censuses are also available for Overijssel in 1748 and 1795. Similar records to censuses are lists of citizens (not every resident was a “citizen”) and of able-bodied men, or men able to bear arms, usually from ages 20 to 60.
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