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Genealogy Research in the Netherlands

Dutch Immigration, Emigration & Colonization


Immigration to Holland

Immigration During the many religious wars in Europe in the previous centuries, large groups of foreigners came to Holland. The principle groups of immigrants were:
  • the Huguenots from France (sixteenth century; c. 75.000 persons)
  • military people and their families from the German regiments (sixteenth to mid-nineteenth century; tens of thousands of persons)
  • Flemings and Walloons from what was once called Southern Netherlands and is now Belgium left their country in the last decade of the sixteenth and early seventeenth century because of the worsened economic conditions and later because of religious conflicts (c.35,000 persons).
The country of origin of immigrants is usually stated in the marriage and membership registers of Calvinist churches.

Dutch Colonization and Emigration

The three most important periods for Dutch colonization and emigration are:
  1. The colonization expansion of the Republic of the Seven United Netherlands. Many Dutch people left the Republic influenced by trading companies such as the United East Indian Company (V.O.C.), established in 1602, and the West Indian Company (W.I.C.), established in 1621. Dutch colonies were founded in the Antilles, Brazil, Guyana, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, the United States, Southeast Asia and South Africa. The genealogical material concerning these colonies for a large part is filed in the "Algemeen Rijksarchief" (General State Archives). The names of the emigrants can often be found on the muster rolls of the ships.

  2. Actually emigration from Holland only became significant in the nineteenth century. Many Dutch people left for the "New World", the United States, while a small number of them travelled to Canada, Australia and New Zealand . By the absence of Dutch population registers before 1850, there are three sources available for emigrants (then called country- movers): a) Lists of country-movers. b) Passenger lists of ships entering the American and other harbours. c) Census lists, made up every ten years of the American population. The majority of these sources are available on microfiche at the Central Bureau for Genealogy.

  3. Just before and after the Second World War many Dutch people left for Canada, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa (South Africa was also popular for emigration at the end of the nineteenth century). The date of departure is often found in the last place residence in Holland.

Related Resources:

European Migration and Your Family Origins
A discussion of group migrations within Europe and how they may be significant to your genealogy research. By Donna Prezcha.

Passenger Lists from the Netherlands and Belgium
Links to online transcribed passenger lists of ships traveling from the Netherlands and Belgium.

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