Netherlands online

I'm working on some Dutch records right now and I think I have this right, but i'd like a check.

The website WieWasWie has indexed much of the digitized records held throughout the country. The actual digitized records are held in regional archives. The search pattern is go to WieWasWie, enter in your details get the page, goto source, and read the record.

Groningen civil registry, (Groningen, Netherlands), birth certificates (1816), archive number 1399, inventory number 6053, file number 917, Herman Levi de Vries birth certificate, 17 December 1816; digital images, AlleGroningers, ( : 8 April 2020), image 489.

Layer 1 is the actual birth certificate. Layer 2 is the digital image. There isn't a "name" for the document, other than civil registry and they didn't film the cover or any frontpieces, just the first page of data. I'm not using a 3rd layer as WieWasWie was just a national index to get me to the regional archive. It's got great information, especially helping with translations, but it's not necessary to refinding the record or providing any insight into the veracity of the regional holding.

Submitted byEEon Thu, 04/09/2020 - 12:08

Hello, cryptoref,

Thanks for giving the exact link. That helps.  As you suspected, EE would tinker with the citation a bit. First, I’ll offer a citation, then explain each tinker.

Groningen civil registry (Groningen, Netherlands), birth register (1816), folio 48, entry 917, Herman Levi de Vries registration, b. 29 November 1816, registered 17 December 1816; digital images, AlleGroningers ( : 8 April 2020), images 489–90 of 516; citing archive number 1399, inventory number 6053, file number 917.

  1. We’ve dropped the comma after "registry" and before the parentheses. In citations as in everyday writing, a comma does not appear before a parentheses. The purpose of a parentheses is to provide additional details about what comes before it. The purpose of a comma is to separate something from what came before it. If a comma splice, separates the parenthetical explanation from its antecedent, it negates the purpose of the parentheses.
  2. The website tells us that our source (“Bron”) is “burgerlijke standregister” (civil register).  What you are citing is a register, not a certificate. (For an explanation of the difference, see EE 9.31, certificates vs. registration.) If another researcher attempts to locate this document after the URL goes bad, and is looking for a certificate, they will not find it. If we call it a certificate, they will search for a collection of loose papers.
  3. Again, after the name of the child, the record type is changed to “registration,” rather than "certificate." The archives, in its document details just under the register number, states: “Soort registratie: geboorteakte”—telling us “Type of registration: birth certificate.”  A certificate was indeed registered, but the registration is not the certificate itself. If we had the certificate in hand, we’d cite the certificate according to however we obtained it. If we’re eyeballing the register (a derivative), then we cite the register.
  4. The image itself tells us where in the register Herman’s entry is located: folio 48, entry 917. This is data we see in the image itself.
  5. You cited the date 17 December 1816 but did not state what the date represented. In most citations, that date represents the date of birth for the person just named. Since this record gives us both a date of birth and a date of registration at the town hall, EE’s citation would include both and specify what each represents.
  6. EE would move the phrase “image 489” to the second layer.  489 is not a page (or folio) found in the original register, which is what Layer 1 covers,  478 also is not part of the archival citation that goes in the source-of-the-source field, Layer 3.  That image number pertains only to the database. Therefore, we cite it in Layer 2, after the URL, as the path that one follows from the URL to get to the exact image itself.
  7. The phrase “archive number 1399, inventory number 6053, file number 917,” needs to be pulled out of the first layer. That cataloging data is not in or on the document itself. We’re pulling that from the database entry that the archive gives us. When eyeballing the record, we cannot confirm that the data is correct. (Yes, even archives and their data entry clerks make errors.) Therefore, we add that data at the end, prefaced by the word citing, to indicate that this is how the archives identifies the source of its image, but we have not personally confirmed it.
  8. Again, in your phrase “AlleGroningers (https: …” we’ve removed the comma before the parentheses. (We also straightened the opening parens which is obviously a typo  but I’ll mention it so that no reader will ask “Why did you change that?)  😊

Submitted byyhoitinkon Thu, 04/09/2020 - 13:51

Hello Cryptoref,

I'm a genealogist from the Netherlands. AlleGroningers is a website I often use for my research. This is how I would cite this record:

Civil Registration (Groningen, Groningen, Netherlands), birth register 1816 no. 917, Herman Levi de Vries (17 December 1816); consulted as AlleGroningers, database and images ( : accessed 9 April 2020); citing call no. 6053, record group 1399, Groninger Archieven, Groningen, Netherlands. 

A few remarks to clarify my choices:

  • This is an original record, not a derivative. Civil registration birth records in the Netherlands, started in 1811, are recorded in registers, not as certificates. Officially, the birth had to be recorded within five working days, but in the early days of the civil registration, this could sometimes be a little longer like in this case. The informant has to be the father, someone else who attended the birth, or the person who owned the house. The record was created when the informants and witnesses appeared before the registrar. The informant and two witnesses signed the record. If you view the record, you'll see the father's original signature. 
  • The record was created by the civil registration department of the municipality, in this case the municipality of Groningen, in the same-named province. It's not a provincial registry, as your citation suggests, but a municipal one. 
  • I cite the date the record is created, which helps to locate the record. I don't include the birth date or other information from the record in the citation but put that in my main text or facts that I attach the citation to. That's a matter of style, you can add the birth date if you think this is confusing. 
  • I chose not to include image numbers since the database entry takes you straight to the correct image. The cited URL takes you straight to the correct database entry. 
  • I mention that AlleGroningers is a database with images so the reader knows they can search for the information if the direct link is broken. 
  • In the source-of-the-source information, there's no need to repeat the record number, which is already included in layer 1. 
  • The website is a product of the Groninger Archieven, the archives of Groningen, as it says in the footer. The records on the website are all kept by the Groninger Archieven. When citing the source-of-the-source, I would include the Groninger Archieven since otherwise you don't know in which repository to look for record group 1399 and call no. 6053 within that repository. 

Hope this helps! 

Thank you. It's great to see how different people will do the same thing. One change is that you've made this a three layer. I see why that's being added. Maybe one day i'll be this good at creating citations. I'm going to keep trying.

Cryptoref, that's why we say "Citation is an art, not a science." (EE 2.1) Many different record sets require us to tweak the basic format to fit the exact set of records we use.

In one regard, EE would tweak Yvette's excellent suggestion: EE strongly believes that if when we cite a date, it should be clear what that date represents.  U.S. citations for birth records typically cite the date of birth rather than the registration date, given the fact that registrations in the past might occur considerably after the birth. As Yvette points out, the Netherlands set a strict requirement for registration to occur within five days. But whichever we choose to cite, stating what our chosen date represents will avoid misunderstanding.

I don't know where you got the 1650-1969 from. The civil registration was introduced in 1811 and birth records are only public after 100 years, so you can't access civil birth records from 1650 or 1969. I'd put the period you actually used in the bibliography. Database and images goes with AlleGroningers, not the register. 

This would be my take on it:

Civil Registration (Groningen, Groningen, Netherlands). Birth register, 1811-1919. AlleGroningers. Database and images. : 2020.

EE would make one tweak here, too. The basic pattern used by almost all citation guides calls for the author/creator to be identified first with the name and nature of the source following that.  With this pattern, the source list is typically arranged alphabetically by the name of the author/creator. In situations in which the author/creator is a governmental jurisdiction (or an agency within that jurisdiction), identifying the jurisdiction as the author/creator in that first field of the source list allows all records created by that jurisdiction to be grouped together.

The switch would create this:

Groningen, Groningen, Netherlands. Civil Registration. Birth register, 1811–1919. AlleGroningers. Database and images. : 2020.

Or, as some prefer:

The Netherlands, Groningen, Groningen, Civil Registration. Birth register, 1811–1919. AlleGroningers. Database and images. : 2020.

If, for example, we arrange our U.S. governmental entries in Source List under the state and town, we'd follow the first pattern above. If we arrange our U.S. entries under "United States," then we'd follow the second pattern for the The Netherlands to be consistent. (EE 2.50–2.51)

Since we cite all three types of entries in the register would we do a single entry for the register or three separate entries for the birth, marriage, death.

Groningen, Groningen, Netherlands. Civil Registration. Birth, marriage, death registers, 1811–1919. AlleGroningers. Database and images. : 2020.

Or then single one for each type?

No, no personal copies were given. The register was created with a duplicate original. One register was sent to the court at the end of the year, the other register remained at the municipality. Both are originals, created during the registration (birth or death) or marriage ceremony, and signed by the parties involved. Nowadays, people receive certified copies of the register when they register a birth or death, but they're derivatives, not the original. 

From the mid 1800s onward, a couple gets a marriage booklet when they married, and whenever they have a child, that is added to their booklet by the registrar. When a person dies, their death is recorded in there as well if the informant remembers to bring the booklet. I did that when my grandmother died in 2009 and I was the informant. I've written a blog post about marriage booklets.

Submitted bycryptorefon Thu, 04/09/2020 - 14:19

Thanks so much for being willing to teach. It's a great learning experience.

And i'm learning. I wasn't that far off and i got it right that it's only a 2 layer. Checking my learning the source list entry would be then. 

Groningen civil registry (Groningen, Netherlands). 1650-1965. Digital images. AlleGroningers. : 2020.

(funky line feed put in by the editor between digital and images not from me)

Short form is

Groningen civil registry, birth register (1816), Herman Levi de Vries, registered 17 December 1816.

If i'm citing a whole bunch of records from same register, do i shorten the entry at all (like for twins which have two full entries),

Submitted byEEon Thu, 04/09/2020 - 17:41

Thanks, Yvette, for taking the time to share your first-hand knowledge of this archive, website, and record set!

Submitted bycryptorefon Thu, 04/09/2020 - 20:04

I'm amazed at how willing everyone here is to help. Super detailed explanations taking the time to really dig into the details. Amazing. Hope i can pay that forward myself in the future.

Submitted bycryptorefon Fri, 04/10/2020 - 13:53

For anyone following along here's the resulting entries so far

Source list leading with the Netherlands to put the Netherlands sources grouped together

The Netherlands, Groningen, Groningen, Civil Registration. Birth register, 1811–1919. AlleGroningers. Database and images. : 2020.


Civil Registration (Groningen, Groningen, Netherlands), birth register 1816 no. 917, Herman Levi de Vries (registered 17 December 1816); consulted as AlleGroningers, database and images ( : accessed 9 April 2020); citing call no. 6053, record group 1399, Groninger Archieven, Groningen, Netherlands. 

Question, i would use a comma between birth register 1816 no. 917. The thinking is that each is a separate unit, the first is which register, the second is the item in the register. 

And lastly here's my take on the short version

Civil Registration (Groningen, Groningen, Netherlands), birth register 1816 no. 917, Herman Levi de Vries (registered 17 December 1816). 


Well done, cryptoref. Yes, your instinct is right that "1816 no. 917" needs a comma. Without it, there's no delineation between the register and the page no. Someone could think that the 1816 register was numbered 917. Or, when the number is smaller in a different record, say "no. 17," that there were 17 registers for 1816.  EE would take it one step further and explicitly say what "no. 917" represents: i.e., "birth register for 1816, entry 917."

In the source list entry, EE would also add a period after the second Gronigen, In source list entries, each item, each field, is separated by a period. The place is a separate field from the agency (Civil Registration).

Submitted bycryptorefon Sun, 04/12/2020 - 12:06

How about one more tweak :)

Civil Registration (Groningen, Groningen, Netherlands), birth register 1816, no. 917, Herman Levi de Vries (registered 17 December 1816); consulted as AlleGroningers, database and images ( : accessed 9 April 2020); citing Groninger Archieven, Groningen, Netherlands, call no. 6053, record group 1399. 

This changes the order of layer 3 from document > archive to archive > document (larger to smaller). That seems better to me.

Archives consist of record groups that consist of call numbers. The convention in the US is to do smallest to largest. You have it largest (archive), smallest (call no.), medium (record group).  

If you check the finding aids for the Groninger Archieven, available via, you will find the following information:

  • Record group 1399 contains the records of the municipality of Groningen for the period 1816-1916
  • Call no. 6053 within that record group contains the birth register for 1816.

See this permalink for a direct link to the relevant entry in the finding aid. 

Because I follow the American convention of smallest to largest, I had the third layer as call no. 6053, record group 1399, Groninger Archieven, Groningen, Netherlands. 

Cryptoref, for much more on archival arrangements that Yvette introduced above with the smallest-to-largest/largest-to-smallest issue see

  • EE 3.1–3.4 Archival Arrangements
  • EE 11.1 Citing Federal Records (U.S.)

Elsewhere, under several of the specific countries (but not The Netherlands), you'll find discussions of the topic that are specific to those countries.