Category Dutch Americans

Environmental History of Dutch America

The North American Drought Index (http://drought.memphis.edu/NADA/Default.aspx) uses dendro-chronological data (tree-rings) to measure wet v. dry years over time and by region. The tool looks very impressive and I’ve only begun to figure out how it works. Essentially, you can select a custom area of the map of North America and a date range and then […]

A Schepel of Wheat as Currency in Dutch New York

You might remember from history class that colonial Americans bought and sold things with Native Americans using wampum, that is beads made from shells. The Dutch in New Netherland used wampum too, but they called it “sewant.”  This was an important but not the only form of money in the colony.  In 17th century Virginia, […]

De Onbekende Geschiedenis van Nederlanders in Grandville, MI: 1847-1900

De Onbekende Geschiedenis van Nederlanders in Grandville, MI: 1847-1900 (The Unknown History of the Dutch in Grandville, MI: 1847-1900) Tot de dag van vandaag is er maar weinig geschreven over de geschiedenis van de vroege Nederlandse immigraten in Grandville, MI.  De redenen daarvoor zijn wel duidelijk. Ten eerste was Grandville sinds zijn ontstaan een Amerikaanse […]

A Brief History of the Phrase “If you ain’t Dutch, you ain’t Much”

It’s a phrase frequently employed in media coverage of Dutch Americans. It appears on kitsch t-shirts and coffee mugs. Even Dutch King Willem Alexander said it a speech in Michigan in 2015. “There’s an old expression here,” chuckles Gleaves Whitney, director of the Hauenstein Center for Presidential Studies at Grand Valley State University in Grand […]

Dutch Americans in Alienated America

In the 2016 presidential election, Dutch-Americans and the Mormons were outliers. Both voted heavily Republican, but were also strongly against Trump in the primaries. Why is this the case? Timothy Carney, in a new book, Alienated Argument: Why Some Places Thrive While Others Collapse (Harper Collins, 2019) argues that Dutch-American places like Oostburg (WI), Orange […]

Where did 2,500 missing African Americans go? Or were they never there in the first place?

In a previous post, I questioned whether there was a large African American migration to Washington County NY in the first decade of the 19th century, or if this was actually some kind of census anomaly. Could over 2,500 free African Americans move into and out of a rural county in one decade and be […]

Historians “Show Your Work”

I never liked it when a math teacher told me to “show my work.”  What do you mean, “Show my work?”  “I answered the problem in my head. There is nothing to show.” Sometimes, however, showing your work as a historian can be a useful exercise, especially as a form of pedagogy. Students need to […]

A Census Anomaly or a Large African American Migration in upstate New York?

North of Albany, along New York’s border with Vermont, Washington County formed in 1772, and grew quickly in its first decades. If the census is to be trusted, there appears to have been a large migration of free African Americans into and then out of the county between 1800 and 1820. Census records note that […]

Dutch American consulate stamps and letterhead from the 19th century

Dutch consuls in the United States in the 19th century were unpaid. A consul was motivated by patriotism, but also accepted the position for its prestige, or the business connections it offered. That is why,  in most cases the Dutch consuls in the United States were businessmen. Consulates sometimes had a stamp, or they had […]

Yankee Dutch from 1682

Brandt Schuyler writing to Robert Livingston in New York in 1682. The English had taken over New York just 18 years beforehand, and both English and Dutch languages competed for control of the Hudson Valley. Here, Brandt writes “Liffingston” for “Livingston” and in the second line uses the English word “opportunity”  [oppertunietyt].