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Emigration Records


What Are Emigration Registers?

Emigration and immigration sources list the names of people leaving (emigration) or coming into (immigration) a country. These lists are usually found as passenger lists, permissions to emigrate, and records of passports issued. The information in these records may include the emigrants’ names, ages, occupations, destinations, ports of emigration, and occasionally places of origin or birthplaces. 

These sources can help you determine where in the Netherlands your ancestor came from and where he or she came from prior to settling in the Netherlands. These records can also help you construct family groups. If you do not find your ancestor, you may find emigration information on your ancestor’s neighbors. People often emigrated with neighbors and friends from the same communities. 

Significant numbers of Dutch emigrants can be found on every continent and in many countries around the world. Hundreds of thousands of people left the Netherlands in several waves of migration. Most emigrants left during the following periods:

1614 to 1820. Emigrants left the Netherlands and migrated to North America, South America, Africa, India, Indonesia, and the West Indies. This included the New Netherland Colony which claimed the shore from Cape Cod to Virginia in North America. This colony lasted from 1614 to 1664 when it was taken over by the English at the end of the Second Anglo-Dutch War.

1820 to 1940. More than 250,000 emigrants left the Netherlands and migrated to North America, Indonesia, Africa, and the West Indies. Many of these emigrants were from the provinces of Friesland and Gelderland. Most settled in Iowa, Michigan, and Wisconsin.

1940 to 1970. Thousands of people left after World War II and settled in Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and the United States.

A good website to search about Dutch emigration is: National Archives

The Dutch emigrated for several reasons:

  • Hunger 
  • Suppression by religious and government leaders 
  • The search for new land 
  • Emigration agents’ glowing accounts 
  • Letters of encouragement from relatives and friends who had gone before 

Emigrants from the Netherlands left records documenting their migration in the country they left as well as in the country they moved to.


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