In the 17th century, the Dutch had a colony in the New World that they called Nieuw Nederland (New Netherland). The colonists came from the Netherlands and many other places throughout Europe. Many people with early American roots have New Netherland ancestors. This guide will give you references to resources to help you trace your New Netherland roots.
This is a living document with resources that I use in my own research, so the focus is on making the connection based to the old country. Since I am based in the Netherlands, this guide is limited to resources that are available in or from the Netherlands.
Using early records
Scans of early records are increasingly becoming available online. Unfortunately, most of them are not indexed or transcribed. To use these scans of original records, you will need two skills:
- Ability to read 17th century handwriting.
- Ability to understand 17th century Dutch.
Alternatively, you can hire a genealogist to translate these records for you.
- Index of baptisms and marriages of New Amsterdam (1639-1800/1801) at WieWasWie. Select Land (country) – Overzee (overseas) and then Regio (region) – Nieuw-Nederland (New Netherland) and type in the last name in the Achternaam field.
- Miscellaneous indexes of Dutch Reformed Church records in New Netherlands (Albany, Bergen, Kingston, Flatbush, Schenectady)
- Van Rensselaer Manor Papers, 1643-1689; New York State Archives, New York, USA. Digital images without transcriptions.
- Ships Passenger Lists to New Netherland, New York 1624 to 1664 (The Olive Tree Genealogy)
Orphan chamber records
Established in New Amsterdam in 1656, the orphan chamber oversaw the administration of the estates of (half) orphans and was operational until 1668. Translations of these minutes have been published.
- Fernow, Berthold, transcriber and editor. Minutes of the Orphanmasters of New Amsterdam, 1655–1663. Two Volumes. Publications of theCommittee on History and Tradition of the Colonial Dames of the State of New York, Number 1. New York, New York: Francis P. Harper, 1902–07. Digital version available online at the Internet Archive (volume 1, volume 2)
- O’Callaghan, E.B. The Minutes of the Orphanmasters of New Amsterdam, 1663–1668. Baltimore, Maryland: Genealogical Publishing Company, 1976. Available at the Central Bureau for Genealogy, The Hague.
(Dutch) West India Company
- Archives of the Old West India Company (1621-1711); National Archives, The Hague, Netherlands. Most records have been digitized (over 45,000 scans). The public is invited to help transcribe the records but so far only a few have been transcribed.
- Archives of the West India Company (1624-1800); National Archives, The Hague, Netherlands. Hardly any records have been digitized so consulting these records requires an on-site visit to the archives.
- Index of investors (1623-1626), refers to original records available at the National Archives in The Hague.
Before leaving for New Netherland, several people had wills drawn up by public notaries in Amsterdam. This information can be found in several ways.
- Notarial archives of Amsterdam, finding aid with digital images attached, City Archives of Amsterdam. Several records have been digitized and are available via pay-per-view. Others can be viewed on microfilm in the reading rooms of the Amsterdam City Archives.
- Notarial Index of Amsterdam notarial records, card file, alphabetically arranged, available at the reading room of the City Archives of Amsterdam.
- Pim Nieuwenhuis, “Abstracts from Notarial Documents in the Amsterdam Archive,” New Netherland Connections 4:65-70 (1625-1645), 4:90-93 (1646-1649), 5:23-28 (1649-1652), 5:50-56 (1652-1659), 5:78-81 (1659-1664). These abstracts include the entries in the Notarial Index that contain “Nieuw Nederland” [New Netherland]. Available from American Ancestors (access for members of the New England Historic Genealogical Society)
- Charles Gehring, editor, A Guide to Dutch Manuscripts Relating to New Netherland (Albany, New York: New York State Library, 1978).
- Guide to Dutch Manuscripts relating to New Netherland in U.S. Repositories, New Netherland Institute
- “New Netherland,” Familysearch Wiki
Online family trees
- Robert Gordon Clarke, Early New Netherland Settlers. Provides short biographies and pedigrees of early settlers.
- New Netherlands Connections, quarterly genealogical magazine, 1996-2010. Available from American Ancestors (access for members of the New England Historic Genealogical Society)
Mailing lists, discussion groups and forums
- Dutch Colonies mailinglist archive (how to subscribe)
- Dutch in New Netherlands (New York area) 1609-1674 Genealogy Group (Facebook)
- New Netherland (Wikipedia)
- Russell Shorto, The Island at the Center of the World: The Epic Story of Dutch Manhattan and the Forgotten Colony That Shaped America. Book, popular account of the early years of the colony. See also my review.
The links to Amazon are affiliate links. If you end up buying something after following the link, I will receive a small commission. I only refer to books that I highly recommend.