Methodology Spotlight

Hindrik Jan Broekema in population register

Today, we are looking at an entry for Hindrik Jan Broekema in the population register of Wedde (1880-1890).

Civil registration (Wedde, Groningen, Netherlands), population register 1880-1900, volume 3, page 3, line 3, entry for Jan Broekema; “Bladeren door bronnen,” digital images, AlleGroningers ( : viewed 14 June 2020), image 4 of 271.


3. Broekema – Hendrik Jan – M – zoon – 30 April 1874 – Nieuwe Pekela – O – NH – geen – 16 Febr 1898 – Noord Amerika

Explanation of the columns

1. Reference number
2. Date of registration
3. Family name
4. First name(s)
5. Sexe
6. Relationship to the head of the family
7. Date of birth
8. Place of birth
9. Marital status
10. Changes in marital status
11. Religion
12. Profession
13. Address
14. Date of arrival in the municipality
15. Previous residence
16. Date of departure from the municipality
17. Next residence
18. Date of death
19. Legal residency
20. Remarks

S.S. Veendam, one of the ships that brough Dutch emigrants to the United States, 1890s (photo credits: Library of Congres)


This page in the population register of Wedde shows the Broekema family. Head of the family is Thomas Broekema, a farmer who lived in Blijham (municipality of Wedde). Together with his wife Geesina Fijn, he had the following children:

  • Hendrik Jan (1874)
  • Grietje (1876), who is mentioned twice because she briefly lived in Winschoten
  • Alida (1878), who died young
  • Tjakki (1880)
  • Geesina (1882), who died young
  • Sietze (1883), who died young
  • Geesina (1885)
  • Albertje (1888)
  • Diena (1891), who died young
  • Sietze (1893)

If Thomas and Geesina had more children, born after 1900, these children could not be mentioned in the 1880-1900 population register.

Hendrik Jan Broekema’s real name was Hindrik Jan Broekema. The civil register made a minor error in his first name. [source: birth record] Hindrik Jan was born before the marriage of his mother Geesina to Thomas Broekema. At their wedding in 1875 they acknowledged the child. We wrote about the acknowledgement of children in a previous article.

United States

Column 16 says that Hendrik Jan Broekema left Wedde on 16 February 1898 to emigrate to North America. Unfortunately, the entry does not mention a state or place. Other sources should make clear where in the United States he lived after his emigration.

An entry in a population register is often the only piece of information in Dutch records that says something about emigration. With the help of passenger lists or the Ellis Island database we can find out when (and where) Dutch families arrived in the United States.

Hindrik Jan Broekema did not stay in the United States until the end of his life. In November 1949 he embarked the S.S. Veendam, bound for the port of Rotterdam. [source: Ancestry] Two months later he died in Wedderveer (municipality of Wedde). [source: AlleGroningers]

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