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Overview of the WieWasWie homepage


WieWasWie (WhoWasWho) is the starting point for research into your Dutch family history. On the platform you can find genealogical sources from the whole of the Netherlands. And with more than 230 million sets of personal details you can be sure to find your family.

WieWasWie header Engels

Overview of the WieWasWie homepage

In addition to the basic sources for family tree research – the church baptisms, marriages and deaths registers, the civil registry and the population registers – there are many more sources included in our genealogical database WieWasWie, such as the militia (conscripts) registers, judicial and notarial archives, family announcements and the passenger lists of the Holland America Line.

How do you search in WieWasWie?

How do you find exactly that one forefather in all those millions of records? There are two possibilities for searching in WieWasWie:

Simple search (free)

In this mode you can search using one name. You can filter the search results, sort the results and you receive LINKS from one marriage certificate to another marriage certificate.

Advanced search (paid)

You can search using two names, use wildcards such as * and ?, and when searching you can choose ‘exact / exactly’ or ‘begins with’.

Simple search - free

• Filters

• Sorting search results

• LINKS marriage certificates

Advanced search - premium access (€ 19.95 per year)

• Search using two names

• Search with wildcards * and ?

• Search ‘Exactly’ or ‘begins with’

ENG search wiewaswie

The search function and the help pages of the WieWasWie website are available in English: Switching from Dutch to English and vice versa.

Searching in WieWasWie - Simple search

If you choose Simple search, you can fill in the name of the forefather that you are looking for. Let's say we're looking for the marriage of my great-grandfather Hendrik Scholten. We only know that Hendrik lived in the Dutch province of Drenthe, and that his wife was called Ekkina; my auntie Kiny is named after her. Searching with the name Hendrik Scholten gives no less than 7,728 hits. 

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Simple search in WieWasWie

You can reduce the number of search results / hits by using one of the four filters. Since we know that Hendrik Scholten lived in Drenthe, we use the filter Collection region = Drenthe. In addition, we are searching for his marriage certificate: that’s why we filter by Document type = marriage certificate and by Role = Groom.

After filtering there are only 27 hits left. You can sort the results by any column, ascending or descending.

The marriage certificate of Hendrik Scholten and Ekkina Middelveen was quickly found. They were married on 13 February 1902 – hopefully not a Friday – in Emmen. Using the button 'Go to source' or by clicking on the picture you can look at the original document.

huwelijks akte Arthur Brown

Marriage certificate of Hendrik Scholten and Ekkina Middelveen, Drents Archief

Even though a large amount of the data has been transferred to WieWasWie it is always a good idea to examine the original document. In addition to the names and occupations of the parents of the bride and groom, the names of the witnesses are also recorded. Furthermore, the signature of the bridal couple brings you very close to your family for a brief moment.

Trouw koppel

Bride and groom, ca. 1910-1920, Drents Archief

Searching in WieWasWie – Advanced search

When you subscribe to a premium access, you can then search by two people at the same time. And furthermore, you can use the wildcards * (asterisk) and ? (question mark).

Under Advanced search you can search for two people at the same time. In WieWasWie the search is then carried out for all certificates in which both names appear, such as a marriage certificate of a bridal couple, the birth certificates of their children and the marriage certificates of these children.

If we fill in the names of Hendrik Scholten and his wife in the search window Advanced search, we only have 26 hits. If we sort by date, their marriage is shown at the top.

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Advanced search in WieWasWie

Searching in WieWasWie – Wildcards

For a long time, there was no fixed spelling for first names and family names. Many people were illiterate, and as a result could not check what was being written down. The clerk at the civil registry also misspelled something every once in a while.

In order to obviate the results of variations in spellings, spelling mistakes or input errors, it can be handy to use wildcards.

Searching with wildcards:

? = replaces one character

* = replaces several characters

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Searching with wildcards in WieWasWie

Exceptional / Special sources – HAL passenger lists

A good source for tracing English forefathers who emigrated to America are the passenger lists of the Holland America Line. In WieWasWie you can search for family members who made the crossing with the Holland America Line between 1900 and 1969.

The passenger lists offer a treasure trove of information for family tree researchers, such as the fare paid, the number of people that made up the group, and sometimes how much baggage they had with them.

By filtering by Document type = Migration and then by Organization = Stadsarchief Rotterdam (Rotterdam City Archives) you can browse in the passenger lists. Of course these are also accessible by name.

Please note that in the event of a group of people sailing it is generally only the name of the principal person in the group who booked the tickets that is registered, and only the initial letter of his or her first name is noted. You can obviate this by typing an asterisk after the first letter of the first name.

Then filter the hits as explained above, and you may have traced the details of the crossing that your relative made.


Advanced search in HAL-passanger lists in WieWasWie

In this way you can also find the crossing of Albert Einstein and his wife Elsa on the ss. Rotterdam on 8 December 1939.

Einstein en vrouw

Albert Einstein and his wife Elsa on the deck of the Rotterdam, Centre of Jewish History New York