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Divorce ends after 98 years

A remarkable news item came from Tresoar last week. Sjoerd Douwes van der Heide and Sijke Eetzes Oostenbrug married on 5 May 1900 in Tietjerksteradeel (you can find their marriage on Genlias or Tresoar). Ten years later, they divorced - until last week.

In The Netherlands, a divorce is passed by court, and then entered in the margin of the original act in the marriage register. The divorce only takes effect once it is entered in the margin.

On 29 December 1910, a note was added in the margin of the Van der Heide - Oostenbrug marriage act, stating their divorce by order of the court of Leeuwarden, on 14 April 1910.

Recently, a book about the history of the village Molenend (where the couple lived) mentioned their divorce. Their grandchildren were shocked about that: They never knew anything about their grandparents' divorce.

The youngest grandchild started an investigation. First on the Tresoar website, where the divorce was indeed mentioned. Then in the Friesland archive in Leeuwarden, where she saw the marriage act with the divorce written in the margin. Finally, she searched for the court order of 14 April 1910. There was none.

Further investigation showed the registrar had made a mistake. It was a different marriage that had to be annulled. Sjoerd and Sijke have been divorced since December 1910, but they probably never knew about it. Their granddaughter asked for the mistake to be corrected. The archivist asked and received permission from the court to do so, and on 27 February 2008 he updated the margin, ending the almost century-old divorce.

You can see the updated marriage act here. The divorce is still mentioned with the marriage act on Tresoar, but I expect that will also be corrected soon.

On the photo: Deputy archivist Lourens Oldersma updates the marriage register. Photo by Tresoar.


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Blogger Lisa / Smallest Leaf said...

This is an amazing story! It makes me wonder what records that I've taken as fact have actually given me false information.

Small-leaved Shamrock
A light that shines again
100 Years in America

Blogger Henk van Kampen said...

Primary sources also contain errors... I wonder how rare this type of error really is.

Most people don't even check the marriage act after finding a divorce on Genlias or Tresoar, and almost nobody would verify a divorce found in a marriage act against court records. So an error like this will nearly always go undetected.


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