New Amsterdam records


This collection contains the municipal records of the government of New Amsterdam during the seventeenth century, as well as manuscript translations made of the documents made during the nineteenth century. The materials include ordinances, court minutes, contracts, minutes of the orphan court, administrative minutes, records of the notary public, and manuscript translations.


4 cubic feet (38 volumes)



Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research. Access to original materials is restricted. A digitized copy of the material is available via our online gallery.

Physical Location

Materials are stored onsite at 31 Chambers St.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Transferred to the Municipal Archives in 1985 from the Office of the City Clerk, New York City.

Alternate Forms Available

Portions of this collection have been digitized and are available to view through our online gallery.

Processing Information

In the 1990s, the Municipal Archives Conservation Lab treated the materials. The records were cleaned, leaf-cast, and placed in custom-made drop-spine boxes. Leather bindings from the 19th-Century and cloth bindings from the 1930s were removed and replaced with new preservation covers. In 2017, a finding aid was written by project archivist, Rachel Lintz, and later updated and encoded by staff archivist, Alexandra Hilton. In 2018-2019, Dr. Jaap Jacobs prepared page-level descriptions of the ordinances, court records, administrative minutes, and orphan masters’ records.
The volumes include the court minutes of New Amsterdam, administrative records of the Dutch municipal legislators, the Burgomasters and Schepens, as well as ordinances of the Director-General. Information found in the records ranges from court cases to the banns of matrimony, to powers of attorney, indentures of apprentices, debts and mortgages, and deeds and conveyances of real estate. Also included are the registers of Notary Publics Salomon LaChaire and Walewyn van der Veen and records of the Orphan Masters Court.

The New Amsterdam records are in the Dutch language as spoken and written in the middle of the seventeenth century. The records from the English colonial period (starting from 1664) are written in a combination of Dutch and English.

From 1848-1862, New York State Archivist Edmund B. O’Callaghan created handwritten manuscript translations for most of the Dutch records (In the 1830s Cornelius Westbrook translated the ordinances and the first book of court minutes, 1653-1654). A first volume of translations, editied by Henry B. Dawson was published in 1867. Some of the translations were edited and published in Berthold Fernow’s seven-volume Records of New Amsterdam in 1897. They were reprinted in 1976 in collaboration between the Genealogical Publishing Company and the Holland Society of New York. Additional translations by O’Callaghan were published in Fernow’s two volume Minutes of the Orphanmasters of New Amsterdam in 1902 and 1907, in association with the Colonial Dames of the State of New York. In 1976 and 1978, Kenneth Scott and Kenn Stryker-Rodda added two further volumes.

In 2018-2019, Dr. Jaap Jacobs prepared page-level descriptions of the ordinances, court records, administrative minutes, and orphan masters’ records. These include the page numbers of the translations as well as of the original manuscripts, thereby facilitating comparing the published translations with the records in the Dutch language.
Commissioned by the Dutch East India Company, Henry Hudson led the first expedition to what is now New York City in 1609. In 1614, the general area was named New Netherland. The States General of the Netherlands created the Dutch West India Company about ten years later, establishing a monopoly on Dutch trade and shipping over a vast domain from West Africa to Newfoundland. The first colonists in New Netherland arrived in 1624 at four locations, including Fort Orange (near Albany) and Governors Island; in 1626 all colonists were moved to Manhattan Island, where Fort Amsterdam was built. Because of its harbor and strategic location, Manhattan soon became the main settlement of the colony.

New Netherland was governed by directors appointed by the West India Company. In 1653, after years of political infighting, Director General Petrus Stuyvesant formed a municipal government modeled on that of Amsterdam. Five ‘’schepens’’ (aldermen), a ‘’shout’’ (sherrif), and two ‘’burgomasters’’ (mayors) were appointed.

From its earliest years, the colony was notable for its diverse population. The public religion of the colony was the Calvinism of the Reformed church, but the Dutch West India Company accepted non-Calvinists as colonists to encourage trade and immigration. They enjoyed freedom of conscience, but did not have the right of public worship. Among the religious groups in New Amsterdam were Lutherans, Quakers, Anabaptists, Catholics and Jews. The colony attracted immigrants from the Netherlands, Germany, England, Scandinavia, and France, as well as African slaves.

Dutch conflict with the New England colonies over boundaries led King Charles II of England to grand the colony to his brother James, Duke of York, in March 1664. New Amsterdam surrendered to the English on September 8, 1664. It was renamed New York City. In 1673, the city was briefly reclaimed by the Dutch, renamed New Orange, but the Treaty of Westminster returned it to English control in 1674.
The materials are arranged into two series. Series I is comprised of the original Dutch records. Records in this series are arranged into subseries by record type, and then chronologically. Series II contains the manuscript translations, arranged chronologically.

Series Outline

  1. Original Dutch Records of New Amsterdam, 1647-1675
  2. Manuscript Translations, 1848-1862, undated
Guide to the records of New Amsterdam, 1647-1862
Rachel Lintz
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Processing of this collection was made possible by the Dutch Culture USA program by the Consulate General of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in New York.

Revision Statements

  • 2019: Data standardized by Alexandra Hilton.
  • 2020: Updated to include a page-level description of the ordinances, court records, administrative minutes, and orphan masters’ records by Dr. Jaap Jacobs.