Drenthe, The Netherlands Genealogy
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Guide to Drenthe Province ancestry, family history and genealogy: birth records, marriage records, death records, census records, parish registers, and military records.
- 1 History
- 2 Jurisdictions
- 3 Research Methods
- 4 Civil Registration (Burgelijke Stand)
- 5 Church Records (DTB)
- 6 Population Registers (Bevolkingregisters)
- 7 Reading the Records
- 8 Tips for Finding Your Ancestor in the Records
- 9 Websites
Drenthe is a province of the Netherlands, in the North-east of the country, between the provinces Friesland and Overijssel.
It was one of the most densely populated areas of the Netherlands until the Bronze Age. The most tangible evidence of this are the dolmens built around 3500 BC. 53 of the 54 dolmens in the Netherlands can be found in Drenthe, and they are concentrated in the northeast of the province.
Within the jurisdictions of Drenthe you will find municipalities (gemeenten) with their villages and hamlets that belong to those municipalities. They are divided in two as the boundaries of these municipalities were changed in 1998. You will find them below.
Most of your genealogical research for Drenthe 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 three 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.
- 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:
- AlleDrenten is the website of the Drenthe archives and has images and indexes.
- WieWasWie, basic version free, index with some images.
- Netherlands, Drenthe Province, Civil Registration, 1811-1942, free, partial index with complete images
- Zoekakten.nl is a Dutch website that helps in locating Dutch images on FamilySearch.org. It breaks down films into smaller segments by year and record type for easier browsing. See Zoekakten instructions.
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
- AlleDrenten most church records are online here, with images and indexes.
- Netherlands, Drenthe Province, Church Records, 1580-1911, free, browseable images.Best browsed via Zoekakten
- Van Papier Naar Digitaal has images, indexes and transcriptions.
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 1850-1940
- AlleDrenten has most BR records before 1940.
- Geneaknowhow. Click on "Internet" under Drenthe in the left sidebar.
- FamilySearch collection Netherlands Census and Population Registers, 1574-1940
- 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 firstname.lastname@example.org or post to
- CBG/Center for Family History
- Section Personcart and Personlist
- PO Box 11755
- 2502 AT, The Hague
- The Netherlands
- CBG/Center for Family History
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:
Tips for Finding Your Ancestor in the Records
- Effective use of civil registration and church records includes the following strategies:
- Identify your ancestor by finding his birth or christening record.
- When you find an ancestor’s birth or baptismal record, search for the births of siblings.
- Search for the parents’ marriage record. Typically, the marriage took place one or two years before the oldest child was born.
- 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.
- Search the death registers for all family members.
- 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.