Category Dutch Americans

An Almanac from Dutch New York

The year was 1759 and the English had just defeated the French on the plains of Abraham in the major battle of the French and Indian War. By the end of the year, an enterprising printer in New York City, James Parker, continued a tradition of publishing an almanac in Dutch for the New York […]

Dutch Bibles and Beaver Hats in 18th century NY Wills

From the takeover of New Netherland in 1664, through to the 1820s, New York collected inventories of the material possessions of the deceased. The records, now available for free on Ancestry.com, (search for “Estate Inventories and Accounts, 16661-822”) are far from complete, but might be useful to historians and genealogists. I’ve been using them, for […]

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 […]