gahetNA in the National Archives



Dutch family leaving for Canada

Starting your genealogical research

Researching your Dutch roots starts at the Centraal Bureau voor Genealogie, the Central Bureau for Genealogy (CBG). The collection of genealogical duplicates (photocopies or microfilms) can be consulted at the CBG, including military records and archives about the colonial history of the Netherlands. Original documents are available in the reading room of the Nationaal Archief.

The most important sources for researching your Zuid-Holland ancestors, the civil registration and church records, are available at the CBG and the Nationaal Archief. But you can also find information on family members who come from other areas. Start your research online at or or prepare a visit to our reading rooms. Some sources are available as online images or have an online name index. Otherwise, online finding aids give a general description of the records, in which case you can consult the record for free at the Nationaal Archief reading room or pay to order a scan. The digital reading room of the CBG provides access to obituaries, the police magazine, German records and records from the East-Indies. These collections are available for a fee.

Before 1811

For the period before 1811, you have to rely on other sources like the baptism, marriage and burial records that were kept by the church. 

After 1811


For the period after 1811, the civil registration (burgerlijke stand, Dutch research guide only) is the most important source for genealogical research. The birth, marriage and death records provide the basic information about a person, including the names of his or her parents. By consulting the marriage record of the parents, you will find the names of their parents, allowing you to add another generation to your family tree.

  • Most of the information from the civil registration, including the records from Zuid-Holland, are available on WieWasWie.


Searching the archives

The search function allows you to search all the information on this website, including the descriptions of the archival records. Most of the descriptions are in Dutch, so using Dutch search terms will give the best results. Often these descriptions are very general: a bundle of letters may be described as 'ingekomen brieven 1911' (letters received in 1911). Even if that bundle contains a letter by a family member, it will not be found by searching for the name because the name does not appear in the archival description. Finding these types of unique and personal documents can be quite a challenge.

Persons on paper (Popgids)

This index is your guide to references about persons in publications and our archives. Within this index you conduct a search using one or more of our 4439 dutch keywords. If you are looking for a relative from Zeeland who joined the WIC just use the keywords Zeeland or WIC. Conducting a search using a relatives name won't give you any results.   

Which agencies?

To know what other archives may contain information about your relatives, it is important to know which agencies they may have been in contact with. For example: if your ancestors owned a business in Zuid-Holland, information about him can be found in the archives of the Kamer van Koophandel (Chamber of Commerce).

Background information and researchguides

Guide on how to research your ancestors from the Netherlands, available for purchase at the CBG.

Research guides about researching genealogical topics like emigrants, residents of the former colonies, military personnel and voyagers on ships of the Dutch East India Company.

Research guides about finding official documents that may contain personal information, like last wills and naturalisations.

Important search terms

Antillen (Antilles), burgerlijke stand (civil registration), Curaçao, DTB (church records), emigranten (emigrants), militair (military), slavernij (slavery), Suriname (Surinam), VOC (Dutch East Indies Company)

gahetNA is a website of the Society for the Nationaal Archief in cooperation with the Nationaal Archief and Spaarnestad Photo.
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