Open Archives contains a huge online database of historical records from the Netherlands. Since boundaries moved often throughout history, the same web site also contains a significant amount of Belgian records. The web site is well known in throughout Europe, as the following announcement shows. However, I am always surprised that Americans with Dutch ancestry often are not aware of the huge resource available at https://www.openarch.nl/. The following announcement from Open Archives shows just how popular the web site is in other countries:
Sources are of great importance when creating a family tree. You will therefore have to dive into records of the civil registry, baptism, marriage and burial registers, notarial deeds, militia registers and personnel administrations. Prayer cards, family messages and funeral cards are also very useful for genealogical research. Archive institutions and also local history and genealogical societies manage these sources, which are increasingly being made available in digital form. Open Archives has made the person entries in these sources searchable in one place. With more than 200 million historical person entries, it is the largest collection of genealogical source data in the Netherlands.
Open Archives currently presents the data from 86 organizations. This mainly concerns Dutch archival institutions, from the Regional Historical Centers to the city, municipal and regional archives. Part of the data comes from local history and genealogical societies, they often have beautiful prayer card and family message collections. By presenting the data on Open Archives, the collections of these organizations get an extra stage, so that they are found and consulted. Over 200 thousand people visit Open Archives every month, accounting for 6 million inquiries. The website is consulted in English, French or German by 30% of the visitors. In addition to Dutch organizations, Belgian archives and societies are also offered the opportunity to make their data discoverable on Open Archives.
Searching for information about Dutch ancestors is very easy on Open Archives. You can search by name and then the results can be filtered by type of document, place and year. When a historical document is viewed, Open Archives continues the search automatically. It is checked whether more information is available for the persons mentioned in the document. These can be related historical documents, but also references to other sources such as cemetery information, biographical portals and online family trees. To provide the historical documents with more context, Open Archives also shows extra information, such as the weather on the day in question, information about the location from censuses and historical maps.
Everyone can search for their Dutch ancestors (in English) via www.openarch.nl.