Volume 133, Issue 3
  • ISSN: 0040-7518
  • E-ISSN: 2352-1163



The introduction of the civil registry office – burgerlijke stand – in 1811 is often considered a significant caesura in the registration of personal data. While in previous centuries the church mainly performed this duty, the government took the task upon itself after 1811. However, this article asserts that this was in fact an instance of remarkable continuity. Already in the seventeenth and eighteenth century, the government issued laws to ensure accurate registration by the church and to protect the legal identification of citizens. As this contribution shows, it was precisely with regard to this matter that an increase in centralisation took place. Until 1750, it was primarily the local authorities that laid down rules on the registration of persons. In the second half of the eighteenth century, provincial legislation increasingly came into force, and the civil registry was introduced nationally in 1811.


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