22 May 2019

USA: New York celebrates first ever New Amsterdam Cultural Heritage Day

On 8 April 2019 New York now celebrates the historic ties with Amsterdam on New Amsterdam Cultural Heritage Day.

Upper row from left to right: Dennis Maika (New Netherland Institute), Dolph Hogewoning (Consul General), Bert de Vries (Director Stadsarchief Amsterdam), Michael Lorenzini (New York City Municipal Archives), Joost Taverne (Cultural Attaché) and Russell Shorto. Lower row from left to right: Pauline Toole (Commissioner NYC Department of Records), Femke Halsema (Mayor Amsterdam), Sylvia Kollar (Director New York City Municipal Archives) and Sophie van Doornmalen (Senior Cultural Officer Shared Cultural Heritage, Consulate General of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in New York) (photo: DutchCulture USA).

"On 8 April 2019 New York now celebrates the historic ties with Amsterdam on New Amsterdam Cultural Heritage Day." The New York City Mayor’s Office declared this in a mayoral message by Bill de Blasio, which was handed to Mayor of Amsterdam Femke Halsema by Commissioner of the Department of Records and Information Services (DORIS) Pauline Toole.

Celebrations

The day was celebrated with a lecture by Russell Shorto, the renowned author of ‘Island at the Center of the World’, on the historical relationship between Amsterdam and New Amsterdam. In 2016, the New York Municipal Archives and the City Archives of Amsterdam (Stadsarchief) launched their project New Amsterdam Stories. On 8 April, the latest addition to the New Amsterdam Stories – inquiries into New Amsterdam’s ‘burgher right’ (established in April 1657 and modelled after city citizenship in Amsterdam) – was presented by Dr. Dennis Maika, Senior Historian at the New Netherland Institute. Finally, Mayor of Amsterdam, Femke Halsema, received the mayoral message. Mayor Halsema stated that “Our city really is greatly honoured. Of course, Amsterdam will do everything it can to make this new annual celebration a lasting success.”

To commemorate the occasion, selected historical documents that highlight the link between Amsterdam and New Amsterdam, from the New York City Municipal Archives, its counterpart, the Stadsarchief Amsterdam, and the New York State Archives were on display. These documents detail the government’s response to residents who petitioned in 1657 to be granted the rights of citizenship, and in turn, the responsibilities that came with those rights.

New Amsterdam Stories

The Municipal Archives and the Stadsarchief Amsterdam have been digitising and making 17th century documents available that are related to New Amsterdam, the Dutch settlement that would become New York City. The partnership brings 17th century archival collections to wider audiences and establishes opportunities for greater knowledge-sharing and storytelling. Together, they have built a digital platform that shares these materials and facilitates research.