Participants in the 2012 summer institute were treated to a wampum-making demonstration by artist, writer, and re-enactor Arthur Kirmss. Known more commonly to the Dutch as sewant, these tubular shell beads were highly valued by Indians and served as a key medium of exchange in the fur trade. Along with beaver pelts, wampum also served as currency among Dutch settlers. Today Kirmss crafts wampum using 17th-century techniques and replica tools. Pictured are the shells from which he crafts the beads, grinding and polishing the broken bits of shell and drilling a hole through the center for storage and transportation.
Photo by Dietrich Gehring
The New York State Social Studies frameworks for grades K-8 place a greater emphasis than ever before on the history of the Dutch colonies in the Americas. Teachers and students are being asked to trace colonial history from New Netherland through to the English colonies and to recognize lasting Dutch contributions to American life and history. But what is that history? How can we best teach it to our students?
On August 8, 2015 the New Netherland Institute, in conjunction with the New York State Museum, Archives and Library and the Greater Capital Region Teacher Center, held a workshop for teachers to support them in their teaching of Dutch colonial history in alignment with the New York State Social Studies Framework.
Twenty-three teachers attended from schools across the state. Participants heard presentations from Charles Gehring and Len Tantillo about the history of Dutch settlement and legacy on the upper Hudson and from William A. Starna about Dutch and Indian relations in the colonial period. They also had tours of the NYS Museum exhibit "Beneath the City: An Archeological Perspective of Albany" and collections in storage relating to the Dutch colonial period. Julie Daniels and Jessica Maul topped off the day by sharing the numerous teacher resources, including over fifteen lesson plans using primary sources in alignment with the Common Core and NYS Social Studies Framework, developed through the New Netherland Institute.
The response from the teachers was very positive, with the majority of them enrolling in the follow-up workshops to be held on October 1 and December 10 at the Greater Capital Region Teacher Center. These workshops will focus on providing support for the implementation of the lessons provided on August 8 and continuing the conversation about how best to teach the important history of New Netherland to a wide range of students.
On October 1, 2015 ten teachers met at the Greater Capital Region Teacher Center for a follow-up to NNI’s August teacher workshop, “Teaching Dutch Colonial History with the New York State Social Studies Framework.” The teachers were led by Jessica Maul, a certified teacher and consultant specializing in the use of historical documents in the classroom, in a two-and-a-half hour workshop. With content expertise provided by Janny Venema, the teachers worked with the records of New Netherland to create and modify lessons for their classrooms to be implemented in the coming months. It was a fantastic group of teachers who are very excited to use primary sources to teach the history of the Dutch colonies in their fourth-grade, seventh-grade, and undergraduate classrooms. The teachers will meet again in December to debrief after implementing their lessons and to discuss strategies for incorporating Dutch colonial history into their curricula in the future.
These workshops were made possible by a generous grant from the Consulate General of the Netherlands in New York.
New Netherland Institute's Teachers Institute
In 2013, the New Netherland Institute held its second teachers institute, in collaboration with the Museum of the City of New York. This 36-hour p-credit course on New York’s Dutch colonial history was designed to help teachers implement the Common Core Learning Standards. It emphasized the analysis and creative classroom use of historic documents and other informational texts.
Prominent historians, curators, and educators delivered lectures on the history of New Netherland; facilitated hands-on workshops; and led tours of museum exhibits and historic sites. Topics addressed include:
The ethnic and religious diversity of New Netherland;
The Dutch origins of American religious toleration;
The American Indian-Dutch experience;
Daily life in the Dutch colony;
European colonial wars and the English conquest of New
The Dutch political and cultural legacy in North America.
NNI’s first summer institute—a collaboration with the New York State Office of Cultural Education—focused on the history and archaeology of Dutch New York. Using artifacts, documents, and images, educators who participated in the 2012 institute worked collaboratively to develop model lessons. Lessons on the fur trade, on global trade, on Dutch-Indian diplomacy, and on conflict between the West India Company and the patroonship of Rensselaerswijck are now available on our Lesson Plans page.
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