My name is Yvette Hoitink and I’m a board-certified genealogist from the Netherlands. I help people from all over the world to find their Dutch ancestors. Besides doing research, I write articles and books, and give presentations about research in the Netherlands.
I have been doing genealogy since I was a teenager and have been working as a professional genealogist since 2012. My first career was in computer science, working as a consultant and project manager for archives to build websites that provide access to archival records. There is a wonderful synergy between my two careers, so I do project management for archives one day per week and client research the rest of the week.
What got you into genealogy?
When I was fifteen, my older cousin got pregnant. My aunt wondered if she was going to have twins since our grandpa was a twin. I had never heard that and thought he was an only child. Grandpa had just died, so the idea that there could be a twin walking around freaked me out. I took the train across the country to look up his birth record. The mystery brother didn’t turn out to be a twin, but a child his mother had had out of wedlock two years before my grandfather was born. I had found my first family secret and have been hooked ever since.
What interesting things have you discovered from your ancestors?
I love finding out the stories. The con artist, who sold newspaper subscriptions door-to-door without having a contract with the newspaper. The policeman who was patrolling the Dutch/German border and fired his gun to warn people that a dam had burst and their homes were about to be flooded, which caused an international incident because the Germans thought he was shooting at them. The serf, who had to pay a fine to marry since his fiancée belonged to a different lord.
Is there a source in your research that you've used that might be overlooked?
Marriage supplements, the records that a bride and groom had to submit to prove their identity and eligibility to marry. Since 1811, the couple had to submit copies of their birth or baptismal records, death records of parents (if they married under age 30) and deceased spouses, and the groom had to prove he had fulfilled his military duties. This often gives the regiment, which is helpful in finding the military records. Sometimes, the marriage supplements contain other records, like notarial consent to marry by the parents, or a declaration of poverty so they did not have to pay the marriage duties. When one of my ancestors married, his parents were dead, so he had to prove his grandparents were dead too. They died before the burial records were kept, so witnesses appeared in court to testify about when and where they died. These grandparents were born in the 1600s, and I found witness statements about their deaths in the 1750s in the marriage supplements of their grandchild who married in 1813. What a treasure trove!
What are you currently focusing on in your research?
In literature, I have found a line back to Eleanor of Aquitaine (1124-1204), Queen of France by her first husband and Queen of England by her second husband. I am working on verifying the line by going back to the original records and drawing my own conclusions. So far, I have proven twenty-four generations according to the Genealogical Proof Standard, so I only have five generations to go until Eleanor, if it all checks out. I am writing about this research project on my blog, one post per generation.
What difficulties have you come across in your research?
In the Netherlands, privacy laws restrict access to records of people born less than 100 years ago. Ironically, I can more easily find information about my ancestors in the 1800s than in the 1900s.
What advice would you give to people starting out?
Ask yourself: how do I know that this record is for my person? Why do I think the information is correct? Websites give us all sorts of wonderful hints and record matches, but we have to do our own analysis to see if the records are actually relevant. By going back to the original records and analyzing them thoroughly, we may see problems or new evidence that will help us reach the correct conclusions.
You can visit Yvette's website by clicking on her picture and if you haven't already, follow her on Facebook & Twitter too! And take a look at her FREE newsletter on Dutch Genealogy! I really do hope you enjoyed my very first "Meet who you Tweet interview"! Stay tuned for more!