Sunset at Gowanus Bay

Sunset at Gowanus Bay
Sunset at Gowanus Bay, Henry Gritten, 1851

Friday, October 14, 2011

Three Books about New Netherland and Dutch New York

I recently received an e-mail from Richard Brewer (administrator of the Brewer DNA Project) with a forwarded e-mail that he had received from Tom Brewer (a participant in the Brewer DNA Project).
Tom Brewer recommended The Island at the Center of the World, by Russell Shorto (2005: Vintage). Shorto's account, which draws upon the large volume of early Dutch records that have been translated over the past decades by Dr. Charles Gehring and others, was a national bestseller when first published.
Richard Brewer adds to this, Dutch New York: The Roots of Hudson Valley Culture, edited by Roger Panetta (2009: Fordham University Press). This book, with numerous illustrations and photos, is a collection of thirteen essays contributed by various writers, and was a companion book to the 2009 exhibition commemorating Henry Hudson's 1609 voyage that brought him up the river that now bears his name.
To the above two mentioned books, I would like to add, The Colony of New Netherland: A Dutch Settlement in Seventeenth-Century America, by Jaap Jacobs (2009: Cornell University Press). In this book the author studies the original Dutch records (not relying on the translations) and describe a wide ranging overview of life in the New Netherland Colony. It too, is very readable (320 pages) and one that I consider a must for anyone researching their early New Netherland ancestors.
All three are in print and are available from major online booksellers.


  1. Chris, this is Tom Brewer. Thanks for postig these book references. I had not know of this blog before, but I will certainly be checking in.

    Assuming that you have read these books, are the others general references to life and social development of the time, or is there any reference to our family line.

    I'd like to, over time, get a paper trail from my current family tree to my DNA family tree.

    Thanks again, Tom

  2. Hi Tom. The three books mentioned are all general accounts. There are no specific mentions of the Brouwer families of New Netherland and early New York. I'd say that the first two were written with a general readership in mind. Jaap Jacobs' book might appeal more to someone looking for a more thorough understanding of the social, religious and economic situation in New Netherland.

    You can find a few more recommendations by clicking on the Bibliography link found under "Notes, Research, Reports, Images" at the right.

    Chris Chester


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