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Resources for Dutch Genealogy

Posted by Sean Daly on Apr 26, 2023
Houses in Amsterdam, a windmill

Do you have roots in the Netherlands? Or perhaps New Netherland (USA) or the Dutch Cape Colony (South Africa)? Learn about Dutch resources which can help you make discoveries and build your genealogy!

The Netherlands is a country in the heart of Europe which experienced a golden age of exploration (and colonization) in the 17th and 18th centuries — there was a Nieuw Amsterdam on Manhattan Island before there was a New York!

From parish and civil records to Napoléon’s Soldiers to the Holland-America Lines passenger lists, these resources will help you break your brick walls back to your Dutch ancestors.

Need help with Dutch genealogy terms? Look over Yvette Hoitink’s page, or the FamilySearch wiki page (also their PDF), or Ancestry’s page.

A useful overview of Dutch naming patterns and traditions can be found at FamilySearch.

Tip: Don’t confuse the Netherlands with “Holland” — although it is customary in English to say Holland meaning the entire country, that name really only refers to the two coastal provinces which together were historically the economic powerhouse of the nation.

The Dutch Masters — Rembrandt, van Eyck, Hieronymus Bosch, Judith Leyster, Vermeer, and others such as Hendrick Cornelis Vroom, above — painted exquisite seascapes, landscapes, portraits, and still lifes. “A Fleet At Sea”, c.1614

Some historical context

Romans were present in these lands, which were smaller in the times before dykes. Following the era of Charlemagne, the first dykes went up to protect rivers from sea flooding. By the 13th century, dykes were connected to keep out the sea; newer dykes were progressively built further out; and the Netherlands grew. The 15th century saw a major innovation: windmill-driven water pumps kept the polders of the reclaimed land dry.

The 15th century also saw the domination of the Burgundians, who possessed today’s Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, and parts of France. In the late 16th century, the Burgundian Netherlands split along religious lines; the “United Provinces” or “Dutch Republic”, mostly Protestant, separated from the mostly Catholic “Spanish Netherlands”, today’s Belgium and Luxembourg; the Dutch Golden Age began. Under the Republic of Seven United Netherlands, the Dutch East India Company garnered riches from the Far East while England and France strengthened their navies and ultimately warred with this rising economic power. Nieuw Amsterdam became New York, and the French Revolution helped inspire the successor Batavian Republic, which gave way to the short-lived Kingdom of Holland under Napoléon’s brother Louis Bonaparte, until Belgium and the Netherlands were annexed. Following Napoléon’s defeat in 1815, the monarchy was restored and since 2014 the Netherlands celebrates King Willem-Alexander‘s birthday on April 27 as “Koningsdag”, King’s Day, when the Dutch wear orange for the occasion!

Napoléon I

The Emperor’s reign over the Netherlands was brief, but for genealogists, had a lasting impact: Napoléon standardized the civil registration of births, marriages, and deaths across the provinces, a system which remained in place. In 1811, the emperor decreed that anyone without a last name had to choose one by the first of January 1814 (some Dutch people mocked the decree by choosing joke names… which their descendants have had to live with!). And, Napoléon recruited soldiers in the Netherlands for the imperial army. At Geneanet, volunteers have been indexing the muster rolls of Napoléon’s soldiers in France’s military archives; over 1.1 million soldiers are searchable at this time. Every record indicates the place of birth and parents’ names and links to the scanned image of the roll in France’s archives.

Gerard Bruin of Amsterdam was a grenadier à pied of the 3rd (Dutch) regiment. In this composite image, we can see that Geneanet volunteer pvoyaux indexed the key searchable fields. By clicking through to the scanned image, we learn additional information: this soldier was taken prisoner in Russia during Napoléon’s disastrous 1812 campaign.

Resources at Geneanet

Geneanet has rich resources for Dutch genealogists; our site is, of course, available in Dutch. See a list of our Dutch collections here. Many of these collections were made possible by Geneanet volunteers who transcribe registers, format public data, photograph graves, and upload their vintage postcards. In addition to our Napoléon’s Soldiers collection described above, we have:

  • 228 million indexed individuals
  • nearly 2000 indexes
  • Birth/Marriage/Death registers throughout the country, with more added regularly
  • Census records
  • Death notices, many with photos
  • Graves from over 1,800 cemeteries, including war memorials and military cemeteries
  • The Genealogy Library, a fantastic resource for books and newspapers (Premium feature)
  • First and last name heatmaps, a great tool to find origins of unusual names
  • A collaborative family tree project, Paesens-Moddergat 1883, documenting the families of a West Frisian fishing village who lost their menfolk in the great tempest of 1883
  • Over 36,000 vintage postcards, including thousands of photos of Utrecht province
  • And last but not least, tens of thousands of family trees built by Dutch genealogists — do you have ancestors in those trees?
We have thousands of photos of street scenes in Utrecht in our Postcards database.

Dutch Genealogy Resources

Many of the resources listed below are available only in Dutch. That’s not a big deal; some datasets are available on more than one site; modern browsers have automatic webpage translation available natively or through add-ons; and the Geneanet forums and facebook groups have friendly people who can assist you.

The story of the Netherlands is careful planning and building of critical water management infrastructure. Map: Wikipedia

Provinces of the Netherlands

Friesland (Fryslân)

  • AlleFriezen. This site focuses on the northern province of Friesland. The Frisians have a local language (although everyone speaks Dutch), and it’s important to remember that if you are in North America — many of the Dutch who emigrated trans-Atlantic in the latter half of the 18th century were Frisian or from nearby Groningen or Drenthe provinces. Frisian families habitually used patronymic surnames until Napoléon’s decree; note that first names may have Dutch or Frisian spellings in documents.
  • Tresoar. This is the literary museum, library and archive of Fryslân.




  • Gelders Archief. 17 million genealogical records from the province are available.
  • Achterhoek Ancestors. This site, compiled by Yvette Hoitink, is focused on the eastern towns of Gelderland province.






  • Het Utrechts Archief. Civil and parish records for the province and city of Utrecht. The archive promises to reply to all e-mails about genealogy in three business days.




  • This is the most recent province, created from the closure of a sea dyke in the 1930s. There were towns on former islands there; the records can be found at WieWasWie.

Former colonies

Municipal archives

Did we miss any resources? Please let us know in the comments! And don’t hesitate to ask for help in our forums. Geneanet members are helpful and questions are monitored by support!


Having a problem getting the research tools to work. Was trying to do duplicates bu merge button wouldn’t work at all.

Answer from Geneanet: Please visit our forum for support questions, you will get the help you need. Be sure to mention what kind of system you are using (computer, browser, tablet).

While visiting a relative in Crumlin, Northern Ireland she mentioned that our ancestors might have come from Netherlands / Dutch Heritage. The last name I am researching is Bell. I only go back to a Meredith Bell about approximate birth 1840. Anyone have any connections to them? Thank you

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