Category Dutch Americans

Emotional 18th century letters

New York, 1761.  Jacob Ten Broek writes a letter to his brother in New Jersey to inform him that their mother has died. It is the hand of a farmer, no punctuation, some awkward spelling, sometimes indicating how Dutch was pronounced in 18th century New York. 1761, April 8 Waerde broeder dese tot bekent makinge […]

“The Most Conservative Americans”?

  An article in the The Economist titled “Why are Dutch-Americans so different from the Dutch?”  lumps together all Dutch Americans, by which it means a few Michigan politicians and the residents of the city of Holland, Michigan, to explain why they are such backward conservatives.  The article’s subtitle betrays the game the author wants […]

A Doctor of History Fixes Broken Stories

I generally try to avoid using the title “Dr.” instead of “Mr.” because I don’t want to be called upon in an emergency to have to save someone’s life. I can imagine it now:  the captain’s voice comes over the speaker system: “Is there a doctor on the plane?”  When no one comes forward, the […]

Albertus Van Raalte’s church history – Podcast Interview

On Friday, I was interviewed for 50 minutes for the Research on Religion podcast, run by Tony Gill, a professor of Political Science at the University of Washington. The topic of our discussion was the history of the Dutch immigrant leader Albertus Van Raalte and his church history manuscript that I re-discovered in the archives […]

Dutch New York Slavery and Pinkster

    I wrote a review of Jeroen DeWulf’s, The Pinkster King and the King of Congo: The Forgotten History of America’s Dutch-Owned Slaves (Jackson, Miss.: University of Mississippi Press, 2017) for BMGN, the top history journal in the Netherlands. BMGN is short for Bijdragen en Mededelingen betreffende de Geschiedenis der Nederlands. Of course. I […]

Veneklasen – Hall House

A follow-up to my blog post of August 26. The owner of the Hall House sent me a few more pictures of the bricks, and it appears to me that they are of consistent color with the white brick produced at the Zeeland brickyard in the 1870s. The images below show the brick in detail, […]

Reading a Veneklasen Photograph

It is now twelve years since I published my first book, Veneklasen Brick, and I’m excited to still receive questions and comments about the book a few times a year. This week, a man in Michigan contacted me to ask for more information about a house that he has recently purchased. For some reason that […]

When the U.S. Government drafted non-citizens into the army

In 1862, the U.S. government drafted non-citizens into the army and didn’t bother passing a law about it until the next year. Using records of the U.S. State Department, I have created a database of 1040 cases of soldier complaints about impressment, that is:  illegal forced conscription of non-citizens in the U.S. Army. Not only […]

Discovering Dutch Letter Collections

Today, I met with someone Maryland who is interested in donating their family Dutch letter collection to an archive.  This is the kind of material that I am most familiar working with. After an hour reading through the letters, I determined a general overview of the contents and informed the proper archive. At fourteen boxes […]

Runaway Slave – Speaks Good Dutch

“Speaks Good Dutch” was a common descriptor for runaway slave advertisements in New York state in the 18th century.