One of the most fun aspects of this year's visit was being an expert on 'Ask the Expert,' where visitors can book free 20-minute consults. You can read about my experiences as an expert on my blog. I also met fellow members of the Association for Professional Genealogists and talked to many people at the stands.
|Me with my Dutchgenealogy.nl bag |
(easier to spot than a rose in my lapel when meeting new people)
I must admit I take pride in the excellent records we keep in the Netherlands. I often work with genealogists from the US, where records typically start later or are less informative than their Dutch counterparts. Take US census records, for example. These only record families every 10 years (or 5 years if you are lucky and the state held a census in between the federal censuses). In the Netherlands, since 1850 we have had population registers that describe whole households, but they were kept up-to-date. Families were required to report their departure and arrival so the municipality could make sure the registers accurately reflected its residents. These records are so useful for genealogy and I love educating Dutch Americans about the possibilities for research in the Netherlands.
|Example of a population register (Breda, 1917-1938)|
In the Netherlands, the solution to almost any brick wall is always "find more sources." Building a case using indirect evidence even seen as sloppy genealogy by some, because you did not put in the effort to make another trip to the archives to find real evidence. In the US, genealogists need to learn how to combine indirect evidence from a range of sources to prove their case.
Reading about their techniques has been an epiphany for me and has helped me to solve several of my own brick walls. Techniques that work for finding enslaved ancestors have helped me trace serf ancestors. Lesson learned: no matter how wonderful our sources are, we can all learn from each other.
- Board for Certification of Genealogists. Genealogy Standards, 50th-anniversary edition. Nashville, Tenn.: Ancestry, 2014. 100 pp., paper, ISBN 978-1-63026-018-7.