After almost one and a half year we finally had the opportunity last week to meet fellow genealogists again. The last time we attended a genealogy event was in February 2020 when we visited Salt Lake City for RootsTech.
The reason why two of them – Angie and Kyle – were in Europe was to inform tour operators about Ancestry’s newest travel program. This company – based in Salt Lake City and a key player in the genealogy world – is offering US clients the opportunity in 2022 to make a cruise on the Rhine river while learning about genealogy and visiting
For Kyle and Angie this was a pilot. They first flew to Basel, Switzerland, then were on the cruise ship for a week and finally visited Amsterdam. We met with them and spent two days in the Dutch capital. We also invited Daniel, our good genealogy friend from Brussels, Belgium.
It is pretty hard to impress people who create travel itineraries for their own clients. So when we heard we would meet these good friends in Amsterdam we racked our brains about a possible program for these days. We did not want to include the ‘standard’ activities, such as a visit to Rijksmuseum or a canal boat tour. So here is what we came up with.
- Thursday morning we visited the Amsterdam City Archives. The biggest municipal archives of the Netherlands is located in the former headquarters of the Nederlandsche Handels Maatschappij. We saw their ‘treasure room’ (although vault would be a better word for it) with records and photographs which illustrate important aspects of the city’s history.
- In the afternoon we visited the Royal Palace at Dam Square. The building used to be the city’s town hall until in the beginning of the 19th century it was converted into a palace for Louis Napoleon, king of Holland and brother of the famous French emperor. The palace is still used by the king and queen for formal receptions. It is also the place where former queens abdicated and new monarchs were introduced to the public.
- Friday morning we spent some time in Rembrandt’s house at Jodenbreestraat; the broad street in the Jewish quarter of Amsterdam. The painter lived in this house from 1639 until 1658. Inside we got an impression of what his house and its interior looked like. The exposition not only focused on Rembrandt but also on Hansken, an elephant that was brought to Europe and was forced to perform in many European cities in the 1630s and 1640s. A tragic life. Rembrandt portrayed Hansken a couple of times.
- In the afternoon Peter, a former radio journalist, took us on a private tour through Amsterdam. He told us about the Jewish community during World War II and especially about the family of Anne Frank. During a two hour walk we saw two synagogues, the Dokwerker statue, the Auschwitz’ memorial, and – obviously – the Anne Frank house. We learned more about Anne’s diary, her life in the Backhouse and how she was arrested and deported. A heartbreaking story.
Van Loon family
After our American friends had gone homewards, we took Daniel to one more museum on Saturday morning. We visited the Van Loon Museum, a monumental house at Keizersgracht which belongs to this regent family since the 18th century. On the walls we found dozens of portraits, painted family trees and coats of arms. An amazing experience, especially for genealogists like us.
This Amsterdam trip was unique in several ways. It was the first ‘get together’ for us as an international group of genealogists. It was a great networking opportunity. And we learned so much about the history of the Netherlands, its capital Amsterdam and the families who lived there in different times.
If you have ancestors from Amsterdam or other Dutch cities or villages and are interested in visiting these places, please contact us. We organize heritage trips, tailored to a person’s or family’s interests.