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New Netherland Settlers Project Reliable Sources

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New Netherland Reliable Sources

WikiTree advises members not to create or edit pre-1700 profiles without using sources that the members of the appropriate project have determined to be reliable. This list identifies reliable and unreliable sources for profiles of people within the scope covered by the New Netherland Settlers Project. If you cannot determine a source's reliability from this page, contact project members for advice or ask in G2G using the tag new netherland. This page provides the advice of the New Netherland Settlers Project regarding sources for New Netherland settlers, their descendants, and other community members during the colonial era. It is one of a set of "reliable sources" pages collected in Category:Reliable Sources for Pre-1700 Profiles.

Note that many of the New Netherland profiles created in WikiTree before this policy was established were based on unreliable sources and would benefit from revisions, including the addition of better sources.

Reliable Sources

NB: There are far too many individual sources for New Netherland to list all of them on one page. Accordingly, this page discusses different types of sources and provides links to other pages where more detailed lists are given.

Church Records

New Netherland baptisms and marriages were recorded in churches, initially only in Reformed Dutch churches and later also in churches of other denominations or languages. The complete original records or faithful transcripts of those records are valuable for genealogy. See the WikiTree page Baptism and Marriage Records of the Dutch Reformed Church of New Netherland and Beyond for information about church records and how to find them.

Other Primary Records

Court records, deeds, wills, letters, and similar contemporary documents can be excellent resources for genealogy. See Primary Sources for New Netherland for information on published compilations of primary records for New Netherland, along with some other resources for obtaining records.

Ships' records - See https://www.olivetreegenealogy.com/nn/ships/ for information on reliable and not-so-reliable sources for New Netherland ships' records.

Census records - See Primary Sources for New Netherland for information about some colonial censuses.

Peer-reviewed genealogical journals and scholarly publications

A few modern journals that may contain relevant articles and that have a reputation for quality are:

  • New York Genealogical and Biographical Record (sometimes abbreviated as "Record" in source citations)
  • The American Genealogist (often abbreviated as "TAG")
  • New Netherland Connections
  • The New England Historical and Genealogical Register (often called NEHGR)

Recent issues of these and other journals typically are obtainable only in libraries or on paid websites. Content from the 19th century and early 20th century that has passed into the public domain often can be found on free online sources. Note, however, that before the mid-20th century, quality standards were less rigorous than they are today. Check for evidence of the evidence used by the authors.

Books and other publications issued by university presses, the New Netherland Institute, and similar entities can be excellent sources.

See also: Genealogical Journals and Periodicals for New Netherland

Reliable Websites

Web-published content that has generally been found to be reliable:

  • The People of Colonial Albany, New York State Museum. Index to contents. Many documents in this collection were written by Stefan Bielinski, the project director. This is an excellent secondary source for Albany, including transcriptions of some primary documents. Unfortunately, the content is not being updated regularly, and researchers (both WikiTreers and published researchers) are increasingly reporting findings that differ from what's published here. Note that most family names have been "standardized" (names given by Bielinski may not conform with New Netherland project naming conventions) and the information sources are not always explicitly cited. Much of this content can be found in Albany Dutch church records, Albany court records, and other primary sources for the Albany area, so after you read this site, look in the primary sources.
  • Wardell, Patricia A. "Early Bergen County Families", formerly published on the Genealogical Society of Bergen County website, njgsbc.org. These are Pat Wardell's notes regarding numerous New Netherland families, not limited to Bergen County. Her work is currently not available, but it was expected to be republished in October 2021 after extensive editorial attention by the Society.
  • Olive Tree Genealogy: New Netherland - Excellent resource provided by Lorine McGinnis Schulze.
  • Chester, Chris. "The Brouwer Genealogy Database." http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.com/~brouwergenealogydata - Personally maintained website with data for numerous New Netherlanders, not limited to the name Brouwer, with appropriate source citations. Contents seem to be excellent, but it's best to verify the sources cited.

Netherlands Sources

See Dutch Roots Project Reliable Sources for advice on sources for Netherlands records for settlers who were born, married, or otherwise recorded in the Netherlands. These may include some settlers who were not Dutch but resided in the Netherlands before emigrating. However, note that many New Netherland settlers did not live in the Netherlands before coming to New Netherland. Also note that some Netherlands-based online databases include church records from New Netherland, derived from sources such as transcriptions published by the Holland Society of New York. A Dutch database should not be assumed to be a superior source to the original US-published transcription.

Secondary Sources to Use With Caution

General Books

Note: These are not deemed to be reliable sources, but they can be enormously useful. They are listed here to help members make judgments about the information they find from these well-known sources.

The following 19th-century and early 20th-century books have been widely used. They can be excellent resources for understanding the historical context of our ancestors' lives and they are often very helpful in providing a starting point for reconstructing a family's story, but they should not be mistaken for primary sources of genealogical data. The authors worked with primary sources (and much of their content is excellent), but were not consistent about identifying their sources, and a number of mistakes have been found in the books. Facts found in these sources should be double-checked against primary sources to the extent possible. If you can't locate or access a primary source in order to check the information, be sure to make it clear where you got the information you are reporting.

Family Genealogies

There are numerous published books -- dating from the early 1800s through the day before yesterday -- that present the genealogy of a particular family. Other family genealogies may be published on websites maintained by a family organization (possibly with a name like "The So-and-So Family Association, Inc.") or distributed privately to the members of a family organization. Often these sources are the best (or only) information we have to work with regarding an individual or a family group. Unfortunately, however, family genealogies range in quality from superb to horrifyingly bad. Some are even fraudulent.

In evaluating the reliability of a particular genealogy, we should consider whether the author cited their sources, and consider whether those cited sources are reliable. In reviewing citations, consider the age of the work. A book published recently should be considered doubtful if it lacks good standard reference citations. However, because 19th-century authors typically did not use modern-style citations, we need instead to look for informal descriptions of where their information came from. Regardless of the citation formats, spot-check their information against those sources you are able to access, to see whether the primary sources validate the information found in the family genealogy. See this short essay by Alicia Crane Williams for advice on evaluating citations in a genealogy. Check the credentials and reputation(s) of the author(s). Consider where and how the work was published. Do not treat the "official" work of a family association as having any special credibility or legal authority over a family's history -- their publications should be evaluated the same way that we would evaluate another author's work. Finally, don't hesitate to ask other WikiTreers (in G2G) for advice regarding the reliability of a particular work.

Published Local Histories

As with family genealogies, the quality and reliability of local history publications is highly variable. They should be evaluated as you would evaluate a family genealogy -- and don't hesitate to ask for advice in G2G.

Websites to Use With Caution

  • Clarke, Robert Gordon. "Early New Netherland Settlers" - This is an impressive compendium of information. It can be a great resource for getting started or to help identify a person we find referred to in a record. Quite a bit of the information on this site is valid and supported by sources, but there are also some mistakes. Family names are standardized and therefore often do not correspond with names found in the records; locations are not given in many cases; source citations are not always clear; and families may not be cross-checked (in a few instances, a person is represented differently in different trees).
  • Olive Tree Genealogy's Seventeenth Century Immigrants to New Netherland and New York - This is a collection of user-submitted content (BEWARE!), mostly from online forums, but there has been some curation by Lorine McGinnis Schulze that improved the credibility of the content. (NOTE: This caution is specific to this one area of Olive Tree Genealogy that has user-contributed content. Most of the site is the work of Lorine McGinnis Schulze.)

Unreliable Sources

  • User-contributed trees: Family trees published on FamilySearch, Ancestry, Geni, MyHeritage, Rootsweb, Genealogieonline.nl, etc., or on personal websites. Another person's family tree may be the clue that helps you find sources, but it is not itself a reliable source. And if a tree cites reliable sources, find those sources and use them.
  • Find A Grave memorials: Many memorials come without an actual burial place and burial details, and are in fact reconstructed from trees. These cannot be used as sources. Only those memorials with photographic evidence of the burial should be used as a source.
  • Published databases containing information of uncertain origin: There are a number of "records" collections available on websites such as Ancestry and MyHeritage (and in some instances formerly distributed on a CD-ROM) that do not identify their information sources and in fact are built in whole or in part from doubtful publications and user-contributed content. These include the "Family Data Collection" and similar sources associated with Edmund West, the "Ancestral File," the "Millennium File," the "Pedigree Resource File," the "International Genealogical Index" (IGI), and "U.S. and International Marriage Records, 1560-1900."
  • Sons of the American Revolution (SAR) membership applications. Particularly for the ancestors of people with Revolutionary War service, the SAR applications published on Ancestry.com are essentially just user-contributed family trees. Remember that applicants were not required to provide evidence of their descent from these earlier ancestors. Thus, for people born before 1700, who may be identified as parents, grandparents, or earlier ancestors of people with American Revolutionary War service, these SAR applications are not reliable sources. These applications do have value for men who had Revolutionary War military service, because the applicants typically consulted military records, although (as with other secondary sources) an effort should be made to confirm the information from sources such as pension records.

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I would like to be considered for membership in the New Netherlands Project.

In my research from 20 years ago, I have Harmann Kinkey (one of many spellings) having married Anna Margarita Herman, daughter of Augustine Hermann, who married Janet Verleth, and was a renowned mapmaker of Maryland. I have insufficient sources to validate the marriage of Anna and Harmann.

I have the two marriages listed in WikiTree for Anna but cannot find a third marriage. Knowing this could be an omission or a mistake on my part I would like to have help determining the connections and possibly expand the tree into my line. Thanks.