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A Description of New Netherland

Adriaen van der Donck

Publication Year: 2008

This edition of A Description of New Netherland provides the first complete and accurate English-language translation of an essential first-hand account of the lives and world of Dutch colonists and northeastern Native communities in the seventeenth century. Adriaen van der Donck, a graduate of Leiden University in the 1640s, became the law enforcement officer for the Dutch patroonship of Rensselaerswijck, located along the upper Hudson River. His position enabled him to interact extensively with Dutch colonists and the local Algonquians and Iroquoians. An astute observer, detailed recorder, and accessible writer, Van der Donck was ideally situated to write about his experiences and the natural and cultural worlds around him.

Van der Donck’s Beschryvinge van Nieuw-Nederlant  was first published in 1655 and then expanded in 1656. An inaccurate and abbreviated English translation appeared in 1841 and was reprinted in 1968. This new volume features an accurate, polished translation by Diederik Willem Goedhuys and includes all the material from the original 1655 and 1656 editions. The result is an indispensable first-hand account with enduring value to historians, ethnohistorians, and anthropologists.

Published by: University of Nebraska Press

Series: The Iroquoians and Their World

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. ix-xvi

In 1641 a young Dutchman did what millions of Europeans after him would do: left his home and all that he knew and set off on a voyage to America. Of those millions, most would live fairly anonymous lives; a few would do great things and receive due attention in history books. Adriaen van der...

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pp. xvii-xx

In a perfect world there would be no need for translators or their translations. However, acknowledging our imperfect state, we must be prepared to deal not only with thousands of languages but also with the various historical stages in the development of these languages and their dialects. For historic...

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Publication History of Adriaen van der Donck’s A Description of New Netherland

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pp. xxi-xxiv

1655: Adriaen van der Donck, Beschryvinge van Nieuvv Nederlant, (ghelijck het tegenwoordigh in staet is) begrijpende de nature, aert, gelegentheyt en vrucht-baerheyt van het selve lant; mitsgaders de proffijte-lijcke ende gewenste toevallen, die aldaer tot onderhout der menschen, (soo uyt haer selven als van...

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The Country

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pp. 1-72

New Netherland, thus named by the Dutch for reasons we shall give hereafter, is a very beautiful, pleasant, healthy, and delightful land, where all manner of men can more easily earn a good living and make their way in the world than in the Netherlands or any other part of the globe that I know...

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Of the Manners and Extraordinary Qualities of the Original Natives of New Netherland

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pp. 73-114

Having briefly spoken of the attributes of the land as far as needful, it will also be worthwhile to treat in the following the nature of its original natives, so that when the Christians shall have multiplied there, and the Indians melted away, we may not suffer the regret that their manners and customs have...

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Of the Nature, Amazing Ways, and Properties of the Beavers

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pp. 115-126

Under the heading of wildlife in the description of the animals of New Netherland, we left it until later to relate in detail the nature and unusual habits of the beavers. Since we have said as much as we deem necessary of the country and its natives, now is the time to keep our promise. As the beaver is the main...

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A Conversation Between a Dutch Patriot and a New Netherlander Concerning the Condition of New Netherland

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pp. 127-142

Patriot: Sir and friend, I have before now duly read and been told of the natural features of New Netherland, the appearance and ways of its aborigines, and related matters, by which I am satisfied that, then as now, a citizen, farmer, or other private person of whatever condition can do well...


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pp. 143-146


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pp. 147-170


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pp. 171-176

E-ISBN-13: 9780803219397
E-ISBN-10: 0803219393

Page Count: 272
Illustrations: 1 map
Publication Year: 2008

Series Title: The Iroquoians and Their World