What was New Netherland?

GWC Flag

This was the flag of the West India Company, in Dutch Geoctroyeerde Westindische Compagnie. This private corporation was chartered by the Dutch government in 1621 to oversee colonization of west Africa and North and South America.

Why did they leave Europe?

There were many reasons why European colonists chose to settle in New Netherland. Many fled political and religious persecution. Others hoped to improve their condition by owning their own land or by participating in the fur trade. Some came as servants. Reports from New Netherland were so favorable that it seemed worth the risk of sailing to the New World.

Dangers included the possibility of death by disease or due to a storm at sea. Some settlers died as a result of wars between the Dutch and local Indians. And there were other costs. Colonists risked the possibility that they might never be reunited with their families in Europe.

Some of the settlers were officials, soldiers, or employees of the Dutch West India Company, the corporation that governed New Netherland. Others were independent farmers, artisans, traders, or merchants. Some settlers worked for other colonists as contract laborers or indentured servants. Others were brought to New Netherland as slaves.

About the New Netherland Institute

For over three decades, NNI has helped cast light on America's Dutch roots. In 2010, it partnered with the New York State Office of Cultural Education to establish the New Netherland Research Center, with matching funds from the State of the Netherlands. NNI is registered as a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. Contributions are tax-deductible to the extent permitted by law. More

The New Netherland Research Center

Housed in the New York State Library, the NNRC offers students, educators, scholars and researchers a vast collection of early documents and reference works on America's Dutch era. More


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