New Netherland Family History

Using New Netherland documents to explore your ancestry


The administrative records of New Netherland are an unparalleled source for family historians, with vivid glimpses into the lives of the colony's residents. These records document a wide range of activities, and the degree to which the colonial government was interwoven with the lives of the colony's citizens is reflected in the minute and seemingly trivial details that emerge. While many of the events are documented elsewhere--in church records for example--there are numerous instances where no other documentation exists.

The following sections contain excerpts from selected documents to demonstrate the kinds of evidence a researcher can gather. It should be noted that these sections are based on artificial distinctions, as one record might provide details that could fit into several categories. Researchers are therefore encouraged to browse all the published translations for records relating to their ancestors. All of these translations are now available on our Online Publications page.

Each volume of translations includes an index for easier access to the records. Researchers should be careful, however, not be too rigid in searching for names, and should examine all entries for variations of a surname or patronymic. A helpful resource can be found at the back of Janny Venema's translation of the Deacons' Accounts: 1652-1674, First Dutch Church Reformed Church of Beverwyck/Albany, New York, which is reproduced here. Also be sure to read the introductions to the translated volumes for information about the records and to consult any supplemental information, like lists of occupations or common terms.

Exhibit credits
Developed by Mary Collins, Certified Genealogist
Online production by Steve McErleane
This exhibit is dedicated to New Netherland Institute past President and Trustee Charles W. Wendell (1930-2015).

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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By supporting NNI you help increase awareness of the 17th century Dutch colony of New Netherland and its legacy in America.