How to Research Dutch Ancestors

By Megan Margino, Milstein Division of United States History, Local History and Genealogy, Stephen A. Schwarzman Building
October 26, 2015
Stephen A. Schwarzman Building
Gardens on Parade - Members of Dutch Folk Dancers by tulip beds

Dutch folk dancers and singers, New York World's Fair, 1939. Image ID: 1673859

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.

New Amsterdam, a small city on Manhattan Island

New Amsterdam, a small city on Manhattan Island. Image ID: 421958

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

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.

Map Of New Netherlands, With A View Of New Amsterdam, (Now New-York) A.D. 1656.

Map of New Netherland with a view of New Amsterdam, 1656. Image ID: 805898

The below resources offer more comprehensive histories of New Netherland:

For an extensive and highly detailed chronology of the Dutch Period, 1626-1664, see StokesThe 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:

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.

Dutch women immigrants, Ellis Island, New York.

Dutch immigrants, Ellis Island, New York, c. 1906-1914. Image ID: 801544

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.

Family Files

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.

A Little Dutch Mother.

A little Dutch mother, 1904. Image ID: 826888

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:

Find additional materials related to Dutch genealogy through the following subjects:

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:

New York of 1660.

New York of 1660. Image ID: 800002

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.

Church Records

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:

North Reformed Dutch Church, Corner Of William And Fulton Streets, Dedicated May 25th, 1769.

North Reformed Dutch Church. Image ID: 801027

Girl In Dutch Costume.

Girl in Dutch costume. Image ID: 826630

Also search the catalog by author or subject to find additional materials on particular churches. e.g.:

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:

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

Two Volendam sisters.

Two Volendam sisters. Image ID: 1524237

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.

Mrs. Henry Mussey, directed Croton Pageant

Croton-on-Hudson, New York "Dutch Days" Pageant, c. 1912. Image ID: 1635911


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

Dutch children

Dutch children at Ellis Island, c. 1902-1914. Image ID: 1206545

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.

Gardens on Parade - Two Dutch Folk Dancers by tulip bed

Dutch folk dancers and singers, New York World's Fair, c. 1939. Image ID: 1673861

Additional Resources

The Milstein Division holds many additional materials useful for New Netherland and New York research. See the following resources for examples:

Passenger Lists

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.”

Dutch Immigrants

Dutch immigrants. Image ID: 495063

Land Records

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:

Other Institutions

"Beauties of all Nations Dutch." Image ID: 1116442

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 for more information.