Dutch database on popularity of names expanded to 1790

Dutch database on popularity of names expanded to 1790
Photo: Jon Tyson - Unsplash

NU.nl – Dutch people interested in the popularity of their name in previous generations can now enjoy statistics on this very question dating all the way back to 1790. 

This possibility comes as a result of the digitalisation of marriage certificates, which has allowed the Meertens Institute to significantly expand the reach of its database – the Dutch First Names Bank. The database had previously only allowed users to search the popularity of names going back until 1880. 

According to analysis by the Meertens Institute, historically first names in the Netherlands tended to be very traditional, and were passed down from generation to generation. However, in the late 19th century, Protestants began to move away from this practice, instead opting for an original name. For Catholics, this change came later, more generally around 1950. 

For privacy reasons, a name only appears in the database if it occurs at least 17,800 times. There are 4,700 names that the analysis describes as ‘popular’, with some of the most common being Grietje, Maria, Johannes and Willem. The website also includes an explanation of the meaning of the ten thousand most popular names. 

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