New Netherland Institute features digital exposition on slavery

The first Dutch colony in the New World, New Netherland spanned the geographical area from Albany, New York through Delaware. | Contributed photo

With old court and church records, deeds and meticulous research, University of New Orleans assistant history professor Andrea Mosterman has pieced together a composite portrait of life when African and Dutch descendants co-inhabited New Netherland.

The first Dutch colony in the New World, New Netherland spanned the geographical area from Albany, New York through Delaware, including land in the latter-day states of Connecticut, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Maryland.

Mosterman assembled a digital exhibit based on her foray into old documents, including correspondence from centuries past, to communicate the largely overlooked use of slave labor between 1626 and 1827. Her work examines the impact of slavery as it unfolded, illuminating differences from the later plantation slavery culture in the southern United States and revealing how legal issues impacted the advent of freedom.

In 2009 Crown Prince Willem Alexander and Princess Máxima of the Netherlands visited Albany to launch the New Netherland Research Center, with a three-year matching grant to establish NNI, in partnership with the New York State Office of Cultural Education.

Opened to the public in 2010, the New Netherland Research Center is located in the New York State Research Library in Albany, New York, while nationwide repositories offer a primary source catalog entitled "A Guide to Dutch Manuscripts Relating to New Netherland."

The New Netherland Institute (NNI) has helped cast light on America's long-neglected Dutch roots for a quarter-century. Founded in 1986, it has supported the transcription, translation, and publication of the 17th-century Dutch colonial records held by the New York State Library and State Archives.

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