How to Research Dutch Ancestors
Led by English explorer Henry Hudson, the Dutch first arrived in the land now known as New York City in 1609. The Dutch colony of New Netherland was established in 1614, and New Amsterdam became its capital city several years later.
By the time the English took control over New Amsterdam in 1664, the colony had fewer than 10,000 inhabitants. Because the descendants of those early colonists now number in the millions, Dutch genealogy questions are frequent among researchers of NYPL’s Milstein Division.
Primarily focusing on NYPL collections, this guide presents a select list of materials useful for researching Dutch ancestors in New Netherland and colonial New York. Find information on research strategies, family histories, early directories, church records, Dutch genealogy periodicals, and more.
- Background Information
- Registers & Directories
- Church Records
- Additional Resources
- Other Institutions
Understanding the historical backdrop of your ancestors’ lives can better prepare you for genealogical research. Refer to the following materials for a history of Dutch settlements in New Netherland and colonial New York:
Concise overviews of Dutch colonial history and New Netherland history can be found through The encyclopedia of New York City and The encyclopedia of New York State, respectively. The New York family history research guide and gazetteer also features a historical overview of colonial New York and a history of the Dutch in New Netherland.
The below resources offer more comprehensive histories of New Netherland:
- The colony of New Netherland : a Dutch settlement in seventeenth-century America
- New York New-Amsterdam : the Dutch origins of Manhattan
- A description of New Netherland
For an extensive and highly detailed chronology of the Dutch Period, 1626-1664, see Stokes’ The iconography of Manhattan Island, 1498-1909 (online).
Search the Classic Catalog to find a wealth of additional resources for in-depth research of New Netherland and colonial New York.
As useful tools for understanding how to do research, handbooks provide a trove of helpful tips and research techniques. Learn the specificities of Dutch genealogy research, including name customs and meanings, where to find Dutch records, and more. These resources also feature record indexes, lists of relevant materials, and repositories for Dutch research:
- Researching your Dutch ancestors : a practical guide
- Names, names, and more names : locating your Dutch ancestors in Colonial America
- New Netherland roots
The New York family history research guide and gazetteer features a comprehensive section for Dutch genealogical research, including research suggestions and information on searching for Dutch and colonial records.
Refer to the Red book : American state, county, and town sources for details on locating records for each state, including colonial records.
Also see the following subject for Dutch genealogy research outside of the U.S.: Netherlands -- Genealogy -- Handbooks, manuals, etc.
The Milstein Division offers access to an abundance of family histories, including materials for families of Dutch descent. Search the Classic Catalog to find out if the library holds genealogies on your families of interest.
You may search by subject for “[surname] family.” e.g. Subject: Van Vliet family, Van Dyke family, Lefferts family, etc.
Searching the catalog by surname will also reveal family files. These files include genealogical research notes, copies of records, transcripts of family histories, family trees, and clippings. The majority of these files exist for families with ties to New York, and include Dutch families.
In addition to locating family files through a surname search in the catalog, you can also view a list of our holdings through browsing the call numbers APT-F and NYGB Fam.
The following collections also contain materials on New York families, including transcripts of Bible records, church records, and genealogy research notes. Search the guides to these collections to discover what family names are included:
- New York Genealogical and Biographical Society family files (Held by the Manuscripts and Archives Division)
- New York Genealogical and Biographical Society Bible transcript files
- New York Genealogical and Biographical Society Collection locale files
- Stryker-Rodda collection
Find additional materials related to Dutch genealogy through the following subjects:
- Dutch Americans -- Genealogy.
- New Netherland -- Genealogy.
- Names, Personal -- Dutch.
- Names, Dutch -- Genealogy.
Registers and Directories
The Genealogical and biographical directory to persons in New Netherland, from 1613 to 1674 is a compilation of nearly every known immigrant in New Netherland through 1674. Search for ancestors’ surnames to learn dates of birth, death, and arrival, and the names of spouses and children. This Revised Supplement includes some additions.
The following materials also include lists of residents of New Amsterdam, New Netherland, and colonial New York:
- The register of New Netherland, 1626 to 1674
- Lists of inhabitants of colonial New York
- The burghers of New Amsterdam and the freemen of New York, 1675-1866
- The memorial history of the City of New-York, from its first settlement to the year 1892 (volume I, page 338 features a 1665 directory of NYC, available online)
See the Directory information material (printed) for New York city residents, 1626-1786; a bibliographic study for lists of early New York directories available at the library. This resource references many civil lists and registers, church records, vital records, land records, probate records, and more.
For information on New York City directories (published between 1786-1934) you may refer to the guide: Direct Me NYC 1786: A History of City Directories in the United States and New York City.
From its inception in 1628 to the English takeover of New Netherland in 1664, the Reformed Protestant Dutch Church was the only denomination permitted to hold public worship services in New Netherland. Regardless of religious background, nationality, and race, nearly all marriages, baptisms, and burials were carried out by the Reformed Church.
The following is a selection of NYC Dutch Church indexes and records available at NYPL:
New Amsterdam & New York
The Collections of the New-York Genealogical and Biographical society consist of indexes to early Reformed Dutch Church records, such as baptisms 1639-1800, marriages 1639-1801, and more. Additional records include:
- Records of the Reformed Dutch Church in New Amsterdam and New York : marriages from 11 December, 1639, to 26 August, 1801 (online; online index)
- Index to New York City Dutch Reformed Church records : baptisms, 1801-1811 (manuscript collection)
- Burial register of the Reformed Dutch Church in the city of New York
- Records of the Reformed Protestant Dutch Church of Flatbush, Kings County, New York, 1654-1709
- Marriage fees; deaths; members and other miscellaneous matter of the Reformed Protestant Dutch Church of the Town of Flatbush, Kings Co., New York, 1657-1786
- Records of the Protestant Dutch Reformed Church of Flatlands, Long Island, 1747-1914
- Kings County Genealogical Club collections, 1660-1888 (online)
- Flatbush Dutch Church marriages & baptisms, 1677-1757
- The baptismal records of the Reformed Protestant Dutch Church of New Utrecht, Long Island, 1718-1741
- Coordinated records of marriages and baptisms from the Flatbush Reformed Dutch Church, 1787-1906
- Marriages from the records of the Reformed Protestant Dutch Church of the Town of Flatbush, Kings Co., New York
- Records of the Dutch Reformed Church of Port Richmond, S.I. (online; volume II)
- Staten Island church miscellany
- Register book of the church : names of the children which have been baptised on Staten Island from the beginning of the year 1696
Find additional church records through searching by subject for Church records and registers -- New York (State) -- [Name of Town]. e.g.:
- Church records and registers -- New York (State) -- New York
- Church records and registers -- New York (State) -- Albany
Also search the catalog by author or subject to find additional materials on particular churches. e.g.:
- Author: Collegiate Reformed Protestant Dutch Church of the City of New York
- Subject: Reformed Protestant Dutch Church of Kingston, New York
Vosburgh New York State Church Records
The Vosburgh Collection includes transcriptions of over a hundred New York State churches, including Reformed Dutch, Presbyterian, Lutheran, and other Protestant denominations. Find details on baptisms, marriages, burials, and membership, confirmation, and communion rolls for years ranging from the early 1700s-1900s. Search this guide by county and denomination for more details.
Holland Society Yearbooks
The Holland Society’s publication, Yearbook of the Holland Society of New-York (online), includes transcriptions of Dutch Church records.
See yearbooks 1904-1908 and 1922/23 for records of the Dutch Church of Albany, 1683-1779. Records for the Reformed Protestant Dutch Church of Bergen, NJ are listed in years 1913-1915. The 1916 yearbook also includes the records of Domine Henricus Selyns, minister of the Reformed Dutch Church of New Amsterdam.
The library also holds the following excerpts of records transcribed from Holland Society yearbooks:
- Index to the Brooklyn Dutch Church baptismal register in The Holland Society Yearbook (1897)
- New York City reformed church burials, 1727-1803 : (as transcribed from the 1899 Yearbook of the Holland Society of New York)
- Some early records of the Lutheran Church, New York, 1704-1772 : as presented in the Yearbook of the Holland Society of New York, 1903
- New Amsterdam residents, New York, New York, 1651-1666 : (as transcribed from the 1900 Year book of the Holland Society of New York)
Search the catalog for Author: Holland Society to find additional materials by this organization, including the Collections of the Holland Society of New York.
American Ancestors, the database of the New England Historic Genealogical Society, provides access to many early New York State and New England records, including the following:
- New York, NY: Marriages in the Reformed Dutch Church, 1639-1801
- New York, NY: Parents and Witnesses at Baptisms in the Reformed Dutch Church, 1639-1800
- Brooklyn, NY: Baptisms and Marriages in the Reformed Dutch Church, 1670-1719
- Brooklyn, NY: Cemetery Inscriptions, 1686-1882
- Deaths in the Christian Intelligencer from the Reformed Dutch Church, 1830-1871
- Record of Burials in the Dutch Church, New York 1727-1803
The following New York Dutch Church collections are available through Ancestry:
- New York City Reformed Dutch Marriage Records, 1639-95
- New York City, Dutch Church Burials (before 1899)
- Staten Island, New York Church Records, 1749-1828
- Albany, New York Church Records, 1683-1700
- U.S., Dutch Reformed Church Records in Selected States, 1639-2000
Gateway to North America
Search the Gateway to North America database for records of a number of Dutch churches in New York, including baptismal, marriage, and burial records. Also find Dutch Church charters, catalogs, histories, and transcripts from Holland Society yearbooks. Browse a list of collections included in this database.
Genealogy periodicals include useful information for family history research. Search periodicals to find family histories, indexes, and transcriptions of Dutch records, information about collections of Dutch records, and best practices for Dutch genealogy research.
The Milstein Division holds a vast collection of genealogy and local history periodicals. In particular, the following titles are helpful for researching Dutch and New Netherland families.
New York Genealogical and Biographical Record
A publication of the NYG&B, The New York Genealogical and Biographical Record includes compiled genealogies, transcriptions of original records, and guidance for researching New York State and Dutch families.
The library holds all issues of The Record, 1870-present. Years 1870-1910 can be found through the American Periodicals Series database and select years are also available online.
Search The Record for family names via Worden’s Index. Also search for articles by subject, title, and author, and through a number of print indexes available at the library.
de Halve Maen
The de Halve Maen, the journal of The Holland Society of New York, is a valuable source for researching New Netherland culture and families of Dutch New York. Search for articles and Dutch names in the 1923-1991 index.
Other periodicals helpful for Dutch genealogy and New Netherland research include New Netherland Connections (also available via American Ancestors), the Genealogical Magazine of New Jersey, the Dutch Family Heritage Society Quarterly, and The Weathercock.
The Periodical Source Index (PERSI) is an index to over 6,500 genealogy and local history periodicals, including the above publications. Access this index through Find My Past and HeritageQuest and search for articles by surname, location, and publication title.
Also search the Classic Catalog by journal title to find out if the library holds a particular publication.
The Milstein Division holds many additional materials useful for New Netherland and New York research. See the following resources for examples:
Consult Ship Passenger Lists for indexes of New York, New Jersey, and New England passenger lists, 1600-1825. The 1902 Yearbook of the Holland Society of New York also includes a list of passengers, 1654-1664. For later passenger lists, see Dutch immigrants in U.S. ship passenger manifests, 1820-1880, and the Ancestry collections: “Dutch Immigrants: New York Passenger Lists, 1881-1894” and “Dutch Immigrants to America, 1820-1880.”
Search grantor / grantee indexes of New York City Land Conveyances, 1654-1851 to find ancestors buying and selling land. FamilySearch also provides access to a collection of New York Land Records, 1630-1975 for counties throughout New York State.
Other collections of colonial New York land records include Patents of the state of New York, 1664-1802 and Deeds, New York State, 1659-1800. Also see the Calendar of N.Y. colonial manuscripts, indorsed land papers for a guide to New York land papers (also available through Sabin Americana).
Wills and Probate Records
Early New York wills can be found through Abstracts of wills on file in the Surrogate's office, city of New York,1665-1801 (available online via HathiTrust and Cornell University). Other probate records can be found through Probate records, 1743-1910, New York county, N.Y. and Probate records index, 1759-1786.
Additionally, a collection of New York Probate Records, 1629-1971 is available through FamilySearch, and American Ancestors holds the collections: “New York Wills, 1626-1836” and “Abstracts of New York County Wills, 1662-1801.”
Colonial New York Government Records
Find a compilation of transcribed colonial New York documents in Documents relative to the colonial history of the State of New York (online). Use the master index and general index to search for Dutch names.
Also consult the following resources for transcriptions of Dutch and English records from colonial New York:
- Records of New Amsterdam
- The records of New Amsterdam from 1653 to 1674
- New York historical manuscripts, Dutch
- New York colonial manuscripts (Dutch)
- New York historical manuscripts, English
The New York Genealogical and Biographical Society (NYG&B) donated its collections to NYPL in 2008. Dedicated to the research of New York families, the NYG&B’s publications include the The New York Genealogical and Biographical Record and The New York Researcher. Find NYG&B collections by searching the library’s catalog.
The Holland Society of New York holds collections for New Netherland studies, particularly concerning genealogy and family history. Its publications include the de Halve Maen and the society’s Yearbooks. A number of additional Holland Society publications are available in the library.
The New Netherland Research Center (NNRC), located in the New York State Library, contains a wealth of resources for Dutch historical and genealogical research. The NNRC was established in part by the New Netherland Institute, which makes available a number of online publications and provides a guide to conducting research in the NNRC.
Other New York City libraries useful for Dutch and colonial New York research include the Archives at Queens Library, the Brooklyn Public Library’s Brooklyn Collection, the Brooklyn Historical Society, the Municipal Archives, and the New York Historical Society.
Visit the Milstein Division in room 121 of the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building, or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.