New Netherland research guide

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.

view of a city from a ship

New Amsterdam, by Johannes Vingboons, 1665. Image credits: Nationaal Archief

Genealogical records

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.

Church records

glass window

Stained glass window donated by Jan Baptist van Rensselaer to the Old Dutch Church in Beverwyck, New York, in 1656. Image credits: Wikimedia Commons

Court records

Passenger lists

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 1volume 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

Notarial archives

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)


Online family trees


  • 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

Background information

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.
About Yvette Hoitink

Yvette Hoitink, MLitt, CG®, QG™ is a professional genealogist, writer, and lecturer in the Netherlands. She has a Master of Letters in Family and Local History from the University of Dundee, and holds the Certification of Genealogist and Qualified Genealogist credentials. Yvette served on the Board of Directors of the Association of Professional Genealogists and won excellence awards for her articles in the National Genealogical Society Quarterly and the Association of Professional Genealogists Quarterly. Yvette has been doing genealogy for over 30 years. She helps people from across the world find their ancestors from the Netherlands and its former colonies, including New Netherland. Read about Yvette's professional genealogy services.


  1. Chris Green says

    I plan to use your research guide as a reference for my upcoming talk “Immigration to the US prior to 1820.” It’s a great resource.

  2. Hi, Your website is wonderful. Thank you for sharing your knowledge. I have an ancestor that was born in Hamm, Germany, but learned to become a merchant in Amsterdam and lived the rest of his life in the West Indies. Are you aware of any other resources for Dutch traders in the West Indies just after 1800? I know there was a lot of fighting and land changed hands a lot. I wonder if records are only available at the specific locations or even destroyed.

  3. hello….My name is David Mingelen,,,Im doing some research on my family..I know Im related to ferry mingelen..My father was king and im triny to find his genoligy ..Im told there is a govegnment site that has quite a bit of information..Also im told that there is a lawyer/Genoligist that i can hire.Do you know of this person…Thank You…….

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