Unique documents on New Netherland online

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Johannes Vingboons, View of New Amsterdam, ca. 1665. The Hague, National Archives

The Dutch in New Netherland

New Netherland was mainly a trading colony, which was founded in 1624. However, plans for permanent settlement were also made. Up to 1645, the new colony was led by general directors, who all turned out to be unsuitable for the job. That almost meant the downfall of the colony of New Netherland. But then, Peter Stuyvesant became general director in 1645 and turned the tide. He managed to build the colony as well as he could until he was forced to surrender to the overwhelming might of the English army on September 24, 1664.

Work in progress

To date, 2,542 of the 12,071 manuscript pages have been digitised. The scanning of the remaining 9,525 pages of this unique collection will be funded by the Nationaal Archief. These documents will give us an amazing insight into the 17th century Dutch colonial government in New Netherland. When completed, the proposed digitisation will be a major step towards making the 17th century Dutch colonial records accessible for study and research on the websites of the National Archives of the Netherlands and of the New York State Archives.

Archives on Dutch presence in the United States

Transcriptions and translation

The language and handwriting of Dutch writers in the 17th century might cause difficulties for researchers. That’s why the material made available online will not only include scans, but also additional information, such as transcriptions and translations into English. Progress is being made in unlocking these archives of the Dutch presence in America. For example, besides the transcriptions and translations, another project has already produced an update of the Guide to Dutch Manuscripts Relating to New Netherland (1978) which has been entered into the New York State Library’s online catalogue and added to the website of the NNI.

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