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Unveiling Dutch America. The New Netherland Project
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Unveiling Dutch America. The New Netherland Project

(Peter A. Douglas) The Low Countries - 2009, № 17, pp. 122-135

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The Dutch period in North America began in 1609 with Henry Hudson's exploration of the river that would be given his name. In 1614 the New Netherland Company was licensed by the States General of the United Provinces for fur trading in the newly discovered region, and in 1621 the West India Company was chartered to trade in Africa, Brazil, and North America. The Company sent the first colonists to New Netherland in 1624, and by 1664 the population is estimated at around 9,000. While it's clear that there was a lot going on in Dutch America, it has undeservedly remained a historical backwater. The reason was the lack of usable primary source materials for critical examination and interpretation. But the story of New Netherland warranted a more extensive analysis. But how was that to be achieved? The answer was the creation in 1974 of the New Netherland Project, leading to Charles Gehring's translations of the surviving seventeenth-century Dutch records. This was a turning point in American historiography, and the work still goes on after thirty-four years. To understand the true importance of this work it is necessary to see how things were before.

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