Detailed interactive mapping of migration in the Netherlands in the 20th century - New Trends in eHumanities

Gerrit Bloothooft, Universiteit Utrecht and Jan Pieter Kunst, Meertens Institute


November 29, 2012


Detailed interactive mapping of migration in the Netherlands in the 20th century

People migrate and take their social-cultural-linguistic identities with them. Since in their new environment this leads to interactions, knowledge of migration is of high interest to the understanding of, for instance, sociolinguistic and dialect diffusion processes. Based on the availability of places of birth and residence (in 2006) of the Dutch population (16 million alive, 6 million deceased but included) and their family relations from the Civil Registration, migrations patterns between municipalities (and immigration from abroad) can be presented over three generations in the 20th century.

The project has developed a web application where the user first chooses generation (forward or backward in time) and gender, while subsequently the migration map of The Netherlands related to an interactively pointed municipality (443 units), or other aggregation unit such as province (12) or COROP area (40) is shown. To this end, the existing map-making software module “Kaart”of the Meertens Institute has been transformed into a generic, standards-based  tool for the creation and presentation of maps with complex spatio-temporal diffusion data in a user friendly and interactive way.

We will not only present the backgrounds of the migration map and its technical realisation, but will also discuss options to present the migration map as a layer in Google Earth/Maps on which for instance maps of dialect data can be superimposed. This opens ways to explore possible effects of migration on diffusion of linguistic phenomena.


Gerrit Bloothooft is staff member of the Linguistics section at Utrecht University. He coordinates name projects at the Meertens Institute related to the data from the Civil Registration (GBA). In conjunction with the IISG he is involved in population reconstruction for the 19th century and earlier. He has written a wide range of papers on these and related topics (see

Jan Pieter Kunst is a software developer at the Meertens Institute. He designed the relational database built upon the raw data delivered by the Civil Registration, and developed the “Kaart” mapping tool, which is also used in the Corpus of Dutch First Names ( and various other online corpora of the Meertens Institute.

(Presentation slides)