Category Dutch History

The Longest Possible Dutch Name: Dutch Jokes in 19th Century Vermont

While looking for Dutch New York sources on newspapers.com, I’ve noticed a whole lot of Dutch jokes appearing in newspapers in Vermont in the 1820s through 1850s. There are a few reasons why I suppose this is the case. Vermont borders the Hudson Valley and so many Vermonters had crossed into New York State to […]

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, […]

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 […]

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 […]

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].    

Lincoln’s Assassination (Telegram to the Netherlands)

Abraham Lincoln was shot on April 14, 1865, and died of his wounds the next morning. News of his death spread widely and quickly, particularly because of the spread of the telegraph and the first transatlantic cable, laid in 1858. Here is a telegram I once found in the Dutch national archives. King Netherlands Hague […]

You can’t spell “onafhankelijkheid” without the letter “ij”

In 1850, the Sheboygan Nieuwsbode was the only Dutch language newspaper in the United States.  The editor, Jacob Quintus, was proud of his new nation, its history and freedoms. To educate the Dutch immigrants about their country, he published a Dutch translation of the U.S. Declaration of Independence.  Unfortunately, this seems not to have been […]

Dutch Newspaper Research – Sheboygan Nieuwsbode

A few months back, I discovered that Delpher.nl has an incredibly large collection of digital, searchable Dutch-language newspapers online. Unlike some Dutch websites and archives, Delpher doesn’t require any registration or payment. The website is in Dutch, and it takes a while to figure out all of the advanced search features. But once you have […]

Betsy DeVos, Modern Education Debates, and the Misuse of Dutch American History

On July 14-15, 2019, the Association for the Advancement of Dutch American Studies (AADAS) will meet at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan, for it’s bi-annual conference. This year’s theme is the history of Dutch American education. My abstract submission for the conference: In January, 2017, articles in Politico and Mother Jones established a narrative […]

Remembering Gerlof Homan

I remember Gerlof Homan as a standby at Dutch American history conferences.  I probably met him for the first time in Holland, Michigan in 2004, or in Sioux Center, Iowa, in 2006.  I remember some of his presentations, especially his narrative style and his concern for individuals in history. He was the founder of “Peace […]