Online records: Rotterdam city archive
In our online records series we are looking at the websites of the city archives of the three largest Dutch cities.
We will only look at a few sections of the website of the Rotterdam city archive today, but the website has more to offer. Some of the information is available in English, but a lot of it is only available in Dutch.
One section that I want to mention but will not discuss any further in this post is Vluchtroute New York (Escape New York), about emigration to the U.S. in the early 20th century. The website is aimed at children, and is a tie-in with a book with the same name. Vluchtroute New York is entirely in Dutch.
What do they have?
The most interesting part for us is the Digitale Stamboom (Digital Family Tree), with Rotterdam church books and birth and marriage acts of the civil register. Indexing of the death acts is started but not yet completed. For marriages between 1812 and 1852, there are also scans of the marriage supplements.
There are also church books or civil register acts of a few neighbouring towns, and of former towns annexed by Rotterdam.
There are many other collections on the website, look under Archives and collections in the navigation menu on the left. The most interesting of these is the Notarial deeds section, with Rotterdam notarial deeds from 1585 to (currently) 1714, and deeds from neighbouring or annexed towns, e.g. Ridderkerk 1645-1911 (with gaps), or Overschie 1612-1811.
Is there an English interface?
Yes, there is an English navigation menu (click english at the top right), the search interface to the Digital Family Tree is in English, and many pages are translated into English. However, if you browse the website you will discover that a lot of pages are only available in Dutch, and the search interface to most collections is also in Dutch.
How do I use it?
That depends on the database you want to search. We will look at the Digitale Stamboom and the database of notarial deeds in more detail.
It is possible to search multiple databases at once (click search at the top of the page, or go directly to the search form), but the search form is only available in Dutch.
Click genealogy in the menu at the top of the page, or go directly to the Digital Family Tree. On this page, you can read an overview of what is currently available, and what they are working on now. Click the search button to go to the search form. The search form is easy to use. Select which records you want to search: Baptisms, marriages or funeral records of the church books, or birth, marriage, divorce, or death records of the civil register (here called Registry Office). Do not forget to select one or more record types, otherwise you will not find anything! Fill in family name, and if you want, infix, first name, period, or town/city. If you need more search options, like place of origin, click the Advanced search button. Click the search button to start searching. You can click the help button to get more search tips (in English).
In the list of search results, click on a name to see the details of the record. When scans of marriage supplements are available, you can click View the scan to view the scan. You can also order copies directly from the result page: Choose between papier and digitale scan per e-mail and press the Order copy button. Unfortunately, the check-out pages are in Dutch.
From the navigation menu on the left, select Archives and collections, then Notarial deeds (or go directly to the Notarial Deeds page). The introduction is terse but in English, but the search interface (click the search button to get there) is in Dutch. Fill in between one and five search terms (zoekwoord), and optionally fill in the other fields, like deed type (aktesoort, e.g. schuldbekentenis (bond) or testament), jaar (year) or periode (year from/to). Click the Zoeken button to start searching. In the list of search results, click on the little pictogram on the left to view a summary of the deed.
How much does it cost?
Searching the index is free. Scans of marriage supplements, when available, are also free. Prices for ordering copies seems to be €1.50 per copy or scan, plus postage and a handling fee.
For the digital family tree, the current priority is indexing death acts from Rotterdam. I could not find a public statement about long-term plans, or plans for other parts of the website.
Where Amsterdam has scanned a lot and indexed a little, Rotterdam has indexed a lot and scanned a little. If your ancestors are from Rotterdam, this is an excellent site to help you build your family tree.
For most people, the digitale stamboom is the only section they will ever need. The digital family tree is easy to use, and has a lot of information. In the other databases there is room for improvement - an English interface and a better help system would be a good start.