As Directress General (2017-2020), it is my pleasure to welcome you to our website for the Society of Daughters of Holland Dames, Descendants of the Ancient and Honorable Families of New Netherland.
We were founded in 1895 as a hereditary organization to perpetuate the memory of our ancestors and to preserve and promote the legacy of the seventeenth-century Dutch settlers of New Netherland. Our mission focuses on collecting and preserving genealogical and historical documents relevant to the Dutch in Colonial America and to support excellence in historical research related to New Netherland. Holland Dames have and continue to establish durable commemorative memorials in lasting tribute to the early Dutch settlers.
The year 2017 marks the 122nd anniversary of the founding of our Society, which is one of the oldest of America’s patriotic societies. We represent the descendants of the first families living in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut in the early 1600s, following native Americans. In this 21st century, we continue to honor the values of our Dutch ancestors and strive to ensure that their contributions to the foundation of this country are not lost, forgotten, or overlooked.
We live in a time of global connectivity through accessibility to travel and the World Wide Web. Our freedoms are juxtaposed with the plight of current refugees and immigrants seeking new homes. Some 400 years ago, the Dutch West India Company established a colony here with laws based on the model of a Corporation, which evolved in the course of time through immigration into a community that embodied fairness and cultural diversity. I am so honored to oversee a Board of Directors of talented, sophisticated women who share respect and pride in their heritage. Together we work to promote our mission and to bring our Society forward by recognizing its context in our lives and in the greater world. It is a great legacy that is not taken for granted.
During my term, I hope to meet many of our members and to welcome our prospective ones. I will reach out to other heritage societies and cultural institutions to deepen our connections. It is my belief that to survive in a complex world, we need to build a network of connections to facilitate our goals and to envision goals yet to be conceived. I look forward to a time of innovation and meaningfulness as our Society continues to flourish. It is a team effort to be sure, and I am grateful to the Board, Patroonesses, and our members and associates for their work and contributions.
A metaphor that fits well here is the one of dwarfs standing on the shoulders of giants, that is, to “discovering truth by building on previous discoveries.” It is a twelfth-century concept, which Isaac Newton borrowed in 1675 (after New Netherland ceased) when he said: “If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.” The Society of Daughters of Holland Dames is poised to contribute to new research and discoveries through documents and locations where our ancestors lived. We are positioned to collaborate with like-minded institutions that also seek to perpetuate and preserve lessons from the past. Our connections to the New Netherland Institute and New-York Historical Society are just two of our giants. Let’s not underestimate the power of our Dames to honor the chain of life through generations past, present, and future.
We invite you to explore this site and celebrate our traditions.
With warm wishes,
Suzanne Roff, PhD