I started doing Dutch genealogy about 10 years ago. My husband’s family is from the Netherlands. His Grandma T. immigrated here on May 15, 1925. She came to the United States with her parents and several siblings. His grandma did not remember much from her trip and the date of her arrival kept on changing. I would search all the Dutch sites I could find for her and I searched ancestry.com to no avail. All of my questions over the years had not jogged any memories that could help me or that she was willing to part to me.
You can imagine my joy when I was searching in the 1930’s census and located her in Michigan. The census gave her date of immigration. I was so excited. I started searching all the ships for that time frame to no avail. I searched her name, her parents’ names, and even her sibling’s names. I could not locate the ship she arrived on.
We traveled to Michigan one year for her 90th birthday party. One of my husband’s cousins was around 14 and had done a school paper on her grandma. I guess grandma liked her better because as the cousin was reading her paper to about 100 people gathered for the birthday party, I was in the back corner scribbling frantically. That night I went back to the hotel and put this new information into ancestry.com. To my joy and frustration, her records just flew across the screen. Not only was I able to locate her immigration records within minutes but I was able to visit on of my favorite Dutch Genealogy Websites and locate her birth record. Within the week, I was able to document and trace back to the early 1800’s with no problems.
So, you ask, what was shared that opened this waterfall for me. Her real name, Dieuwke DeVries! When she immigrated to the United States, upon arriving they asked for her real name, but after that she went by Josie. I had asked her if she had a Dutch name and she would always change the subject. So just keep that in mind when you are looking for immigrants. They were able to change their names in order to fit better in America.
The Dutch have awesome records that you are able to view online. Just be aware that they are in Dutch but many of them can translate into English and other languages.
I have included links some of my favorite Dutch websites below.
Tresoar Frisian Historical and Literary Centre
Wie Was Wie