If you have ancestors who settled in New Netherland (now New York) in the 1600s, you will undoubtably eventually find yourself struggling with Dutch words and handwriting. You may even venture into research from the Amsterdam Archives Church Records which have been microfilmed.
Amsterdam Doopregisters (Baptism
Registers) follow a fairly consisent format. They show names (sometimes
an occupation) of father, mother, child and sponsor(s).
need to read Dutch, you only need to be able to pick out and read the
names of the individuals you are interested in. But it is more difficult
than it sounds. 17th century letter formations are very different than
what we are used to. Dutch names and spellings are something new to many
of us as well.
Example from a 17th Century Marriage record from Amsterdam
I was struggling to learn how to read this early Dutch script, I made
up a little booklet which I add to each time I figure out something new.
use my little home-made guide to help me interpret what I am looking at
in these early (1600s) records. Other researchers asked me to send them
copies of my notes and examples, so I made up a mini-tutorial.
am not an expert, I muddle along as best I can, but researchers I sent
the tutorial to seemed to find it helpful, so here it is. I hope that if
any of you are starting to dig into those distant records you will find
this at least interesting if not helpful in some small way.
add to these Blog notes as I get the pages of my little guide scanned.
Remember, it's FUN and it's NEW and it can be intimidating but just keep
on plowing through one step at a time.
Source of Registers: Amsterdam Doop (Baptism) Registers on Microfilm
Finding an entry on a page of records from 1621
Click on the image for a larger picture, or View larger image. You can also view a larger image here
is a page of church baptismal records from 1621 in Amsterdam. The entry
I was looking for was for Claesje the daughter of Teunis Dircks &
This is a relatively easy page to read compared to
some! The handwriting is neat and legible, the filmed record is not
dark, and the size of the writing is not too small.
Reading Dutch Script: Studying the letter formations on a page of records
If you need help with Dutch names, you might find my section on New Netherland
(present day New York) of some help. Anyone with ancestors from New
York in the 1600s may find themselves with Dutch ancestry (which is what
got me started on all this!)
It gives examples of Dutch names = English names = Shortened Dutch names (nicknames). It also explains the use of suffixes -je or -tje, -je, -tje, -ie and -ke
To learn the patronymic naming system and the suffixes used there, you might find Understanding Patronymics helpful
Reading Dutch Script: Steps to take when you find an entry of interest
Step 1: Trace the entry as it displays on the microfilm reader
Step 2: Copy the entry
Step 3: Study the letter formations. Figure out what the entry says
Reading Dutch Script: More Letter Formations
Using this same page of church records we can learn other letter shapes and names
Reading Dutch Script: Figuring out even more letter formations