The New Netherland Institute has launched a digital exhibit developed by Andrea Mosterman, assistant professor of history at the University of New Orleans. Mosterman’s work explores 200 years of slavery, during which African and Dutch descendants shared the home, the workplace, the court, the church and the public space.
New Netherland was the first Dutch Colony in North America. It extended from Albany, NY in the north to Delaware in the south and encompassed parts of what are now the states of New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Connecticut and Delaware. In 1621, the Dutch government chartered the West India Company with the goal both of bringing order to economic activity in New Netherland and of challenging Spanish influence in the New World.
Mosterman uses court records, land deeds, church records, correspondence and other sources to convey the untold stories of enslaved Americans in the New Netherland from 1626 through 1827. The exhibit delves into the use of slave labor and how it differed from slavery in the plantation economy of the South, the slave trade and aspects of slave family, culture and community. Mosterman also looks at legal issues affecting slavery at the time, ways in which some slaves gained initial freedom and the legacy of slavery in the region.
The New Netherland Institute has long worked to 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 (NNRC) with matching funds from the State of the Netherlands. 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.