Meet Translator A. J. F. van Laer
A. J. F. van Laer is best known for his translations of the Colonial Manuscripts, work done before the disastrous State Library fire of 1911. The first four volumes of the New York Historical Manuscript series, now called New Netherland Documents, still stand as a model translation of seventeenth-century Dutch. Van Laer accomplished this work during his tenure as Keeper of Manuscripts at the New York State Library. Following the fire, however, Van Laer suspended his translations of these archival records of the Dutch colony of New Netherland. The trauma of the fire, during which he witnessed the destruction of over two million books and damage to the Colonial manuscripts, seemed to contain his drive to provide historians with reliable translations. It would be almost a decade before he would take up the translator's pen again.
The New Netherland Research Center is making available digitized versions of translations and transcriptions of documents relating to New Netherland. Written in an archaic hand, these seventeenth-century documents were damaged by fire and water, but they are our best source of knowledge about the former Dutch colony. Available on this website are government records held by the New York State Archives, private and corporate papers from the collections of the New York State Library, and selected documents from other repositories. Scanned originals of many of these documents are available on the website of the New York State Office of Cultural Education. The following publications are online to date:
From the Collections of the New York State Archives
Register of the Provincial Secretary. The Secretary of New Netherland was responsible for recording public documents for potential presentation in court. These volumes contain a wide range of documents, including depositions, contracts, wills, and estate inventories.
• Volume 1, 1638-1642
• Volume 2, 1642-1647
Curacao Papers, 1640-1665. This collection of documents—ship manifests, land grants, official reports, and resolutions—chronicles Dutch rule of Curacao as a Caribbean trading center. These documents are from the files of Petrus Stuyvesant who served as director-general of New Netherland, Curacao, Bonaire, and Aruba.
From the Collections of the New York State Library
Van Rensselaer Manor Papers. The court minutes of Rensselaerswijck along with the business and personal correspondence of patroon Jeremias van Rensselaer (1632-1674) and his wife Maria (1645-1688/89) chronicle social, economic, legal, and governmental aspects of life on the patroonship.
• Correspondence of Jeremias van Rensselaer - Translation
• Correspondence of Maria van Rensselaer - Translation
• Court Minutes of Rensselaerswijck - Translation
• Manuscript Images for Correspondence and Court Minutes from the Digital Collections of the New York State Library
The Memorandum Book of Antony de Hooges
Antony de Hooges served as business manager of Rensselaerswijck, beginning somewhere between March 1645 and February 1646 and running through March 1648. De Hooges recorded the colony’s business and some personal observations in the Memorandum Book.
• Introduction and Translation
• Manuscript Images at the Digital Collections of the New York State Library
From the Collections of the New York Public Library
The New Netherland Papers of Hans Bontemantel. Hans Bontemantel was a director of the Dutch West India Company's Amsterdam Chamber, which supervised the governance of New Netherland. In addition to official correspondence, this collection contains private communications from Director-General Petrus Stuyvesant and his First Councilor Nicasius de Sille.
Coins, Weights & Measures
Guide to Seventeenth-Century Dutch Coins, Weights & Measures — a glossary of terms that appear in these seventeenth-century Dutch records.