I decided to become a professional genealogist because I love solving complex family puzzles and don't care whether they are my own family or not. By charging for my services, I can afford to do genealogy several days per week instead of just in my spare time. Besides my genealogy business, I also work as a project manager in the IT department at the National Archives in The Hague and am a wife and mother of a three-year-old son.
I've been doing genealogy since I was 14 years old (I'll tell you how it all started in a future blog post). I've been researching a group of 6,000 emigrants from my father's home town of Winterswijk in Gelderland and the surrounding area, most of them distant cousins of mine one way or another. They left between 1840 and 1920 and settled mostly in the US, primarily in upstate New York, Wisconsin, Michigan, Minnesota and Iowa. I've been able to find over 4,000 of them in US records and have been able to help many of their descendants make the connection between their immigrant ancestor and records in Europe. Several of them asked me if I took on paying clients. And one day, about two years ago, I decided to do just that. It's been an amazing adventure that allowed me to do research on Dutch ancestors of people from all over the world: United States, Canada, Australia, United Kingdom, Sweden and South Africa.
|Graves of Winterswijk people in Clymer, New York|
I provide a range of services. Besides the 'classic' services like research, translation, lecturing and writing, I also help prepare clients' trips to the Netherlands. This usually involves researching the families to see where they lived and worshiped. I will then use that information to create an itinerary. The client can either visit all those places himself, or he can hire me as a tour guide. I've also accompanied clients to the archives, to present them with the original documents that include information about their ancestors. That is always a very special moment. I love all the information that is available online, but nothing beats the historical sensation of original manuscripts.
As one of the few professional genealogists in the country, it can get lonely sometimes. That's why I love meeting genealogists from other countries and sharing ideas. I am proud to be a member of this new worldwide community and hope to learn a lot from you. I also look forward to meeting some of you later this month at Who Do You Think You Are Live in London. If you see a woman that looks like that picture in the first paragraph, and who is carrying a "Dutch Genealogy" tote bag, please introduce yourself!
|Who Do You Think You Are Live 2013|