Sharing Pasts: Dutch Americans Through Four Centuries

Sharing Pasts: Dutch Americans Through Four Centuries

New Netherland Institute


Edited by Henk Aay, Janny Venema, and Dennis Voskuil 

Throughout their now four-centuries-long presence in America, Dutch Americans upheld a staunch commitment to education and inquiry that led to their establishing many grammar schools, academies, day schools, colleges, universities and seminaries. Such places of learning and their graduates, especially those at the post-secondary level, created fertile ground for Dutch Americans to also enquire after their own history in their new home and the part it played in the larger American story. Beginning in the nineteenth century and finding its stride in the twentieth century, Dutch American history carved out its place and identity alongside other American ethnic histories. With only some one-and-a-half percent of the nation’s population, the volume and breadth of the body of work in Dutch American history and culture is quite remarkable.

Topics of these twelve papers fall under five headings: “Immigration, Wilderness and Cultural Persistence,” which examines several hitherto unexplored aspects of the Dutch American experience; “Dutch American Culture Moving West” considers the geographic expansion of Dutch culture after the English took over New Netherland; in “Dutch and Indians under English Colonial Rule,” we see how the unique and important relations with the Indians, gained by the early Dutch around Albany and other settlers in parts of New England, proved to be vital for later generations; two very different papers are grouped under the heading “American Influence on Dutch Communities and Church”; and “Rekindling Affection for the Netherlands” examines a time when Dutch culture in America threatened to become forgotten.