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Dutch Settlers in New York

This article is contributed by Arlene H. Eakle, PhD.

Let me introduce you to a relatively new book about the Dutch settlers in New York:

Dutch New York:  The Roots of the Hudson Valley Culture. Edited by Roger Panetta.  2009.  Prepared to accompany an exhibition at the Hudson River Museum with the support of Westchester County and Fordham University Press.

This very interesting volume is a series of 13 chapters on varying aspects of the culture through the Hudson Valley from influences of slavery, commerce, Indian villages, architecture, the romantic tradition in literature, historical documents and artifacts, family traditions, and even Santa Claus.

Dutch influences in America:

  1. Practical tolerance that allowed immigrant peoples of differing backgrounds to live together without persecution or war.  New York became the immigrant capital of America.
  2. Free trade permitting small colonies, of limited exposure in world markets, to experience an explosive prosperity in a short time.  New York is almost synonymous with American marketplace.
  3. America’s view of itself includes the entrepreneurial, independent, tolerant, immigrant-driven society that had its beginnings in New York.

The book is richly illustrated with paintings and historical views from the exhibition.  And each essay is based upon copious footnotes–which, as you know, is of great interest to me.  These notes identify in considerable detail the sources from which each author draws conclusions.  Footnotes also allow each author to share specific differences among the sources and why the differences are significant.

When I begin to study a book, I look for its source background.  What original records has the author found, that have not been used to document a family tree?  I make notes on individual calendar sheets for those sources, so I can look them up.

Does the Family History Library have them in their collection? If not, can I find the references on the internet–at Google Books or similar sites?

Does the University of Utah have the references in their catalog?  This university library is one of the largest in the United States and has ample parking for former students.  They also participate in a statewide book delivery system enabling me to draw on the resources of other university and college libraries in Utah.

Recall that I am interested in finding the original sources, not just studies based upon those records.  Original sources that could provide the very answers about hard-to-find ancestors that my clients have hired me to find.  Many primary sources for the background of American genealogies have been printed in scholarly editions or issued under the auspices of national governments.

Original sources that can demonstrate why the ancestors appear in some records and do not appear in others.  Sources that can link ancestors from one place to another and from one family to another.

This book is a beginning for Dutch ancestors coming first to New York, and from there spilling into New Jersey and northeastern Pennsylvania and through the southern counties of Pennsylvania which became Delaware and out west into Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois.  I have even discovered some that traveled into Tennessee and Kentucky.

Good hunting!

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