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Retired university professor catalogued Dutch American achievers

Ongoing project by Carl Pegels

Tags: Excerpts from the Windmill

Dutch immigration to North America spans a period of almost 400 years. The Dutch presence in the New World is basic to North American history since it brought traditional Dutch lifestyles and structure to New Netherland, a sprawling area along the Atlantic coast and up the Hudson River. The extent of Dutch influence on the rest of the U.S. is becoming more known and documented as pre-independence archive material gets translated from old-Dutch into modern English (all volumes are listed at under early Dutch American history). An excellent introduction to that subject as well is Russel Shorto’s book: The Island at the Center of the World, The Epic Story of Dutch Manhattan, the Forgotten Colony that Shaped America.

Dutch American history therefore covers a period that started with the arrival of explorer Henry Hudson in 1609 and the subsequent settlement in 1621 of what first was known as Nieu Nederlant. Since then, the flow of Dutch immigrants is an ongoing phenomena.

Recording the contributions of the Dutch to the New World has a history of its own. Best known are the volumes Netherlanders in America by Henry Lucas (which is out of print), and a similarly named book by Jacob van Hinte, which is still available (at Also available from the same source is Gerald de Jong’s book The Dutch Reformed Church in the American Colonies. Numerous other titles examine segment histories, regional or local angles, family and genealogical or biographical approaches.

Dutch-born retiree C. Carl Pegels has embarked on a different path by cataloguing fellow academics and leaders with Dutch ancestry, who received recognition well beyond their own immediate discipline, community or institution, and post it online. The list of biographies, which has grown to 150 entries to date, can now be viewed on the New Netherland web site [ Publications/Dutch-American/alpha.html]. Among the entries are a Nobel Prize winner who can be viewed as one of the co-founders of the discipline of mathematical economics as well as other noteworthy academics. Dutch colonial governors, one of the world’s aviation pioneers who became a naturalized American citizen, astronauts, astronomers, industrialists, and members of the 1787 Constitutional Convention can also be seen on this same website.