John Boeren

I4AyPgr0slMM-J05s2aETRW20ndSovWR2sAw1fNVSLI John Boeren is a genealogist, researcher and writer, who is living in Tilburg, the Netherlands. He holds a master’s degree in Dutch Law (Constitutional Law and History of Law) and studied at the School for Archivists in The Hague. For almost ten years he worked for the Regional Archives in Tilburg, mainly as a manager of the Department for Research and Education Services. Nowadays he works as a part-time consultant for local governments.

He has been involved with genealogy since 1988 when his great-uncle gave him a paper with the names of older relatives. In his private research he focuses on the families of his four grandparents. His main project is a one-place study on Loon op Zand, a smaller village in the Tilburg area.

AntecedentiaIn 2015 he started his own genealogy business, called Antecedentia. He conducts genealogical research on commission (in the Netherlands and the Flemish part of Belgium), gives lectures, teaches beginners courses and publishes in books and journals.

John is a member of the Association of Professional Genealogists (APG), of the Dutch Central Bureau for Genealogy (CBG), of the Dutch Genealogical Association (NGV), and of local historical societies. He serves as vice-president of one of the NGV chapters.

John Boeren is the author of IDG’s column, Going Dutch.

Go In-Depth With John:

What is one tip you would give a newbie genealogist?
A source is more than only the page where you have found your ancestor! Take time to study the source completely. Get to know how and why the source was used by its creator. See patterns.

An example. Looking around in Dutch church registers you might find out that the witnesses at your ancestor’s wedding were mentioned as witnesses at the majority of weddings. If this is the case, you need not to search for any family relationship. It might be the name of the sexton, of the vicar’s maid, of the constable. They are more like ‘professional witnesses’.

What is your most heroic ancestor story?
My 4x great-grandfather, Maarten van Leeuwen (1794-1889), received three medals. The first one when he helped to extinguish a fire in a Belgian church, where he was injured severely. The Dutch king paid him a visit in hospital. The second medal was rewarded when he did the same thing for a church in the Netherlands. And the third one he received for his contribution to the Battle of Waterloo in 1815. A remarkable person! Because of my research, his story became known to people in his hometown. They even named a street after him.

What are your feelings about adding non-blood related lines into your research?
I have many examples of non-blood relatives in my family. Both my maternal grandparents grew up with foster-siblings. I have a foster-son myself. Of course they are part of the family and they should be mentioned in a family history. Nevertheless, we are often restrained by our genealogy software: in some programs it is not possible to add same sex marriages. So what to do then if there are three fathers, like when a child has a natural father and was later adopted by two gay men? It would be great if all non-blood relatives could be added to our genealogy database equally.


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© 2015 John Boeren

John Boeren is a genealogist, researcher and writer, who is living in Tilburg, the Netherlands. He conducts genealogical research in commission (in the Netherlands and the Flemish part of Belgium), gives lectures, teaches beginners courses and publishes in books and journals. His genealogy business is called Antecedentia (

This blog post originally appeared on The In-Depth Genealogist and can be found here. [insert original link]