WHAT CAN I DO FOR YOU TO BRING YOUR ANCESTORS TO LIFE?

Thanks to the vast amount of historic documents now available, much can be discovered about your Dutch ancestors.

1. FAMILY TREE

A family tree begins with you and continues with one or more lines of your ancestors, providing a wealth of information about your ancestry. The baptismal, birth, marriage, and death registers not only reveal important information about dates and places, they also tell you more about names, religion, occupations, origin and whereabouts, literacy, and ages. In addition, a family report that includes the children in each family shows the family background, which sometimes unveils stories about child mortality, foundlings, and illegitimacy. Studying who the witnesses were at baptismal and wedding ceremonies teach more the social network of your ancestors. And isn’t nice to have a look at the signatures of your great-great-great-grandparents, even if it is just a cross, because they were illiterate.

2. FAMILY HISTORY

Once you have collected this foundational information, it is possible to uncover even more background information about your ancestors’ lives. In each family there is a story to tell. The search options are endless. The most frequently asked questions are:

What does my surname mean or where does it come from?
• For how long has my first name been in use in my family?
• Where exactly did they live or work?
• Were they rich or poor?
• Did they possess real estate?
• Which school did they attend?
• Which church did they attend and what do the church archives unveil?
• When did they migrate and why?
• Was there a will and what does it say?
• Can my ancestors be found in newspapers?
• Were there crooks or criminals among my ancestors?

The answers to all these questions can be a starting point for doing further research.

The history of a family comes to life if you can imagine life as it was in their own period of time. In the 19th century the lives of day laborers in the province of Groningen were much different from the lives of dockworkers in Amsterdam. Members of the Christian Separated Church in the middle of the 18th century had specific reasons to leave the country. The lives of Anabaptists differ from period to period and from place to place. The rise and fall of the clothing industry in my hometown of Leiden explains a lot about migration and freedom of religion within Dutch history, and is the same for Huguenots and Pilgrim Fathers. And so I could continue with a list of events that could have had an effect on the lives of your ancestors, such as bad harvests, floods, wars, religious quarrels and revolutions, epidemics, and so forth.

3. FAMILY HISTORY TOUR

Tour your family’s history. Walk the same cobblestones as your ancestors; find the houses where they lived, and sit in the hard wooden pews in the church they attended. My tours allow a unique and off-the-grid perspective by talking to local people, taking the scenic roads, going inside houses, farms and churches, and enjoying traditional Dutch food and drink. The tour is designed specifically for you, custom-made to fit your interests, needs, and pace. While we explore I will tell stories about Dutch culture and history. As your guide I can drive you around the country, or accompany you in exploring towns and rural areas by foot, bike, or boat.

‘My initial warm and positive interactions with Jan were fully affirmed once the project got under way, and I was well rewarded for joining him on a magical trek to my ancestral homeland. Not only was I impressed by his meticulous puzzling skills as he pieced together all my lineage, but also his passion and excitement for the work.’