THE DUTCH IN AMERICA ACROSS THE CENTURIES: CONNECTIONS AND COMPARISONS
The Dutch experience in North America, from the voyage of Henry Hudson to the recent migrations of dairy farmers, stretches across four centuries. Two major scholarly traditions—one focusing on New Netherland and the other on the 19th- and 20th-century immigration, settlement, and culture in the Midwest and beyond—have studied the Dutch experience with limited contact. The Dutch in America Across the Centuries: Connections and Comparisons, jointly sponsored by the New Netherland Institute (NNI) and the Association for the Advancement of Dutch-American Studies (AADAS), brings these two scholarly communities together.
The first Rensselaerswijck Seminar was held by the New Netherland Project in 1979. The Project was five years old. Without secure funding, it was imperiled by sporadic support and low visibility. It needed to go public. The Seminar was one step to spread the word about its work and about New Netherland in general.
More than three decades later, the New Netherland Project has transformed into the New Netherland Research Center. In 2013 the NNRC and the New Netherland Institute held the 36th annual event, now renamed the New Netherland Seminar.
Each Seminar centers around a common theme. Recent examples include “The Dutch on the Delaware: New Netherland’s South River,” “The Company Strikes Back: 1673 Recovery of New Netherland, ” and the most recent seminar in 2013, "The Dutch Revolt and New Netherland." Over one to two days, speakers from the United States and abroad present papers on aspects of that year’s theme. Dr. Charles Gehring, Director of the New Netherland Research Center (and formerly of the New Netherland Project) moderates the event. The New Netherland Dinner and frequently a field trip to explore local historic sites accompany the Seminar.
Albany has been the most common place for Seminars, with occasional visits to other locales. The 2011 Seminar was held in Delaware and focused on the Dutch experience in that area. The 2012 Seminar was held at the Mabee Farm in Schenectady, NY. The New-York Historical Society in Manhattan hosted the 2013 Seminar.