Beverwijck: A Dutch Village on the American Frontier, 1652-1664

by Janny Venema

Paperback, 2003




SUNY Press (2003), 528 pages


Paints a detailed picture of everyday life in an early American community.

User reviews

LibraryThing member AsYouKnow_Bob
This is a doctoral dissertation on the Dutch town that would become Albany:too deep for a general history; focused just on the years 1652-1664, it's even too narrow to be a general history of 17th century "Albany".

Janny Venema works for the Niue Netherlands Project / NNInstitute over on the 8th
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floor of the SED, the next building over from my office.

An exhaustively detailed portrait of the Dutch town from its chartering in1652 up to the English conquest in 1664.
It's astounding the amount of detail that survives in the Dutch records, through 400 years and several fires.
(The Dutch West Indies Company records can account for every fur taken out of New Netherlands for most of the 17th century: me, I can barely find my tax returns.)

There's always the temptation to review the book you wanted, rather than the book you're reading -
but I wish this had taken a little more effort to calibrate the map of
Beverwyijck against the modern plan of Albany.
The three streams through the settlement are all buried today; Castle Island has been joined to the mainland, etc., so it's hard to align the old settlement with the modern reality. (Broadway still remains Broadway, however...)

Things we learn:
- the focus of Venema's own studies (her master's thesis) is on the poor law in New Netherlands. As early as the 1650s, the Dutch authorities were building a poor house (apparently the first in North America), and had mechanisms in place to formally assist people in distress.That's fully 350 years ago.
- the Normanskill really is named more or less for a guy named "Norm" - for Albert Andriesz ("de Noorman"), who had a sawmill down there (a mile or two south of town) in 1652.
- "State" Street is probably called that simply because it originated in front of the prime lot of Abraham Staets: the location of the much later State Capitol (and all of the later offices of NY State government...) is mostly a coincidence.
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Original language


Physical description

528 p.; 6.25 inches


0791460800 / 9780791460801
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