Give Birth Dates Context With Historic Dutch Newspapers

Although finding a date of birth can be exiting in itself for the genealogist, it is in the end just that: a date. Wouldn't be great to know what was happening on the day your great grandmother was born? What was the weather like, what historic events took place, what did famous people do that day... The great thing is that you actually can!

The Leeuwarder Courant has the biggest database of historical newspapers of the Netherlands. Although it is a Frisian newspaper, it also covers the national news, of course. It dates back as far as 1752 and it is all available for free online. You can simply choose a date and flip through the newspaper of that day or you can search for specific strings.

Of course it is all in Dutch but that need not be an obstacle. You can select the text (when print version is selected) and then copy the text into Google translate for example. Although the translation is far from perfect it usually lets you get a grasp of what the article is about.

You can print out a copy yourself or you can order an A3 format copy of the first page for a certain date. Since the interface is in Dutch, here are some tips on how to use the database:

1. Go to www.archiefleeuwardercourant.nl
2. You can now do one of three things:
1. Enter a date and press "toon". You will get access to the complete newspaper of that date.
2. Enter a keyword and press "zoek". You will get a result page with all the articles that match your query if any.
3. Order a copy of a front page by pressing "klik hier". To order a copy of the original front page click on the left option. To order a front page you can adapt with your own picture and text for fun choose the right option. The rest of the process is pretty obvious. You can pay with credit card.
3. For more advanced search options choose the yellow "zoeken" button in the upper menu and then the grey "gericht zoeken" button below it once the page has reloaded.

The Leeuwarder Courant is the oldest newspaper online but certainly not the only one. Have a look at kranten-historisch.startpagina.nl for more Dutch historic newspapers online. The site orders the available newspapers conveniently by province. If you can find one from the region your ancestors came from you could even find their birth announcement!