New Netherland Event:From Vrienden to Wilden (Friends to Savages)


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When the Dutch settlers came to New Netherland in the 1600s, the Native Americans they met were their “vrienden.” After a while, the Indians were called “wilden.” How did the friends turn from friends to savages?

Stephen T. Staggs, a doctoral candidate in history at Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo, Mich., has been studying just that question. He will talk about “From Vrienden to Wilden (Friends to Savages)” at the 23rd Annual Meeting of the New Netherland Institute (NNI) Saturday, May 15, at 12 noon at the University Club, 141 Washington Ave., Albany.

Registration for the meeting is open to the public. The cost of the lunch is $22, payable by mail or at the NNI website at nnp.org. Details of the meeting are available at http://www.nnp.org or by calling the NNI office in the Cultural Education Center, .

Staggs has studied the effect of the Dutch Calvinist concepts on relations between the Dutch settlers and the Indians, analyzing the terminology the provincial secretaries and directors of the colony chose to describe their Indian neighbors.

His studies at the New York State Archives were supported by the Doris Quinn-Archives Research Grant, awarded by the NNI and the archives to facilitate research on New Netherland and the Dutch Colonial Atlantic World. He was recently awarded the New York 400 Fulbright Grant for the 2010-2011 academic year to complete the research phase of his project.

Membership in the NNI does not require Dutch ancestry. It is open to anyone with an interest in the history of New Netherland, a 17th-century territory bordered on the north by Fort Orange, now Albany. Included within its boundaries was much of the present states of Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York and western Connecticut.

The NNI was formed as the support organization of the New Netherland Project (NNP), located at the New York State Library in Albany. The mission of the NNP is to transcribe, translate and publish some 12,000 pages of correspondence, court cases, legal contracts and reports from the period 1636 to 1674.

Now the NNP is to be the heart of the New Netherland Research Center (NNRC), a part of the New York State Library. The center has been initiated with a grant of €200,000 brought to Albany by Crown Prince Willem-Alexander and Princess Maxima in September. The NNI has the responsibility of administering the grant and raising matching funds.

At the meeting, Charles T. Gehring, director of the new research center and the translation project, will give a report describing his vision for the NNRC as well as the progress of work on the Dutch colonial documents.

James Sefcik, associate for Development and Special Projects, will give an update on the progress of the NNRC, now in its formative stages.

Throughout the year, the NNI carries on a program of activities to enhance awareness of the Dutch history of colonial America. In addition to the annual meeting, the institute sponsors an annual New Netherland Seminar, formerly called the Rensselaerswijck Seminar. This year’s seminar will be Saturday, Sept. 25.

The NNI administers a number of awards.

• The Doris Quinn-Archives Research Residency Program, of which Stephen Staggs is the 2009 recipient, grants $2,500. An equal amount is given for the Quinn-Library Research Residency.

• The Hendricks Manuscript Award of $5,000, endowed by Dr. Andrew A. Hendricks, is given for a book-length manuscript relating to the Dutch colonial experience in North America.

• The Alice P. Kenney Memorial Award is for an individual or group that has made a significant contribution to colonial Dutch studies and understanding of the Dutch colonial experience in North America.

• The Howard G. Hageman Citation honors Dr. Howard G. Hageman, a founder of the Friends of the New Netherland Project, now the New Netherland Institute, and its first president from 1986 until his death in 1992.

Details about the institute and the awards are also available at the NNI website, nnp.org.

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