Modern Software Experience



Meertens Institute

Tomorrow the Meertens Institute will unveil a new database, the Nederlandse Voornamen Bank (NVB), literally the Dutch Given Names Database. The database is already live, but still password protected. It will be freely accessible starting tomorrow, but I am pleased to present my readers with another scoop.

I've mentioned the Meertens Institute before. I've written about their Dutch Family Names Bank, and the article Minister of Justice an Illegal Alien? started examining that question with a look in that database.

The new database is the complement of the Dutch Family Name Bank. That database has information on family names, the new database has information on given names.

Dutch Given Name Database

Dutch Given Name Database Home Page

The database sports both a Dutch and an English home page. The Dutch or British flag in the upper left corner lets you switch between the two. However, apart from the home page, most of the site is in Dutch only. There isn't much on the home page. Just a brief description of the database, the names of the project members and a edit box in which to type a name.

On the English page, the drop down box in front of that search is still in Dutch. The phrase shown in the screen shot, is gelijk aan, means is equal to. Once this translation oversight has been fixed, you should be able to pick starts with, ends with, contains and advanced.

The database is described as follows

The Corpus of First Names in The Netherlands presents 500.000 names. The names originate from the Civil Registration (2006) enhanced with recent names that were made available by the Social Security Bank. Also included are first names from the latest edition of Prisma Voornamen (edited by J. van de Schaar, revised by Doreen Gerritzen) which are not used anymore in The Netherlands. For many names the annual popularity distribution since 1880, and a geographic distribution is presented. For about 20.000 names an explanation can be found. The information is available in Dutch only.

Dutch Given Names Database Home Page scrolled down


The page is rather high. In the screenshot, your barely notice the graphic footer, but if you scroll, it turns out to be a row of books all showing a Dutch given name on their spine.


Dutch Given Name Database: Jan -  Statistics

I entered the popular Dutch name Jan and got these screen with statistics and a diagram. There is a small peak after the First World War and a more noticeable one after the Second World War. Usage was fairly stable until that Second World World, but started to decline rather sharply afterwards, as people opted for more modern and foreign names than before.

There is a row of three buttons on the page. The left one, populariteit (popularity) corresponds the current page. The second one, spreiding (distribution leads to a page that show the distribution of the name.

Dutch Given Names Database: Jan - distribution

This page is long. I had to combine two screenshots to make the image you see above. The eight links near the upper right in arranged in two rows. The left row leads to maps using absolute numbers, the right row leads to maps using percentages.

The name Jan is often used in combinations such as Hendrik Jan. Such usage is known as a volgnaam (follow name). The four pair of links each have a distribution for usage of Jan as the very first name on top and for usage as follow name on the bottom.

The name Jan is most commonly used as a male name, but is alsoe used as a female name. The default image shows Jan used a the first name in a male given name. The top four links, under the m for man (man), are for usage as a male name. The four links below that, under the v for vrouw (woman), are for usage as a female name.


Dutch Given Names Database: Jan - explanation

The third and last button leads to a verklaring (explanation) of the name. These explanations are in Dutch only.