The Basics: A Guide
Family Origin Traceable in Various Records
Now that you have exhausted the records at home or that mother has, you have to start looking elsewhere for information. If you know the place where your family came from in the Netherlands you should have an easy time of continuing your research. Civil registration in the Netherlands most commonly began in late 1811 and in many cases clerks took the municipal records back to 1805. However in certain areas the official decrees were observed as of 1796. Civil registration means the registration of all births, deaths and marriages with the government not with the church as in the time before 1811. But what if you don't know where your family originates in the Netherlands?
There are several possibilities to find the answer. Does someone in the family know the answer? If not, then try one of these solutions. Many people of Protestant background joined the Christian Reformed, Reformed or Canadian Reformed church. They usually submitted their membership attestations from the church in the Netherlands to the local church in Canada or the U.S.A. The membership clerk of the appropriate church should be able to tell from what place the attestation was issued. The membership transfers also hold true for Roman Catholic immigrants. Since in most cases Canadian provincial registrations of birth (many U.S. state registries do as well, editor) require that the birth place of the parents be given, provincial records of births may yield the birth place of the immigrant. Don't forget to check deaths and marriages as well. Sometimes a newspaper account of a death may give some hint as to where the family came from in the Netherlands. Unfortunately Canadian immigration records are for the most part inaccessible. The Department of Manpower and Immigration has comprehensive records from 1900, but you must be able to show direct lineage and also give the exact date of landing and the name of the boat.
To obtain information from the civil registration records you can do one of three things, write to the municipality from where your immigrant ancestor came, get someone to research the records in the Netherlands or do it yourself at a Family History Centre (FHC) of the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints (LDS). Next time I will talk more about these sources of information.