The Society of Daughters of Holland Dames was founded in May 1895 as an hereditary organization to preserve and promote the legacy of the seventeenth-century Dutch settlers of New Netherland.
The Society fulfills its goals in a variety of ways: it collects and preserves genealogical and historical documents relating to the Dutch in America in order to encourage excellence in historical research in this field and it establishes durable commemorative memorials in lasting tribute to the early Dutch settlers.
Our membership is worldwide and we are privileged to have as an Honorary Member the former Queen of the Netherlands, Her Royal Highness Princess Beatrix. Their Majesties Queen Juliana and Queen Wilhelmina were also Honorary Members of the Society.
The year 2015-2016 marks the 120th anniversary of the founding of the Society of Daughters of Holland Dames, Descendants of the Ancient and Honorable Families of New Netherland. We are one of the oldest of America’s patriotic societies and, with the mandate to perpetuate the memory and promote the virtues of our Dutch ancestors, we inherit a most important obligation.
The Dutch West India Company established a multi-cultural colony including the French speaking Walloons and Huguenots in New Netherland, whose laws were neither those of the Church nor those of the Crown, but rather those of the Corporation, a new concept for a new world.
Most New Netherlanders were protestant and worshiped God directly. As in other colonies, some were prejudiced and even bigoted, but when it came to the law, they lived under the seventeenth-century’s most liberal, fair and open system and their values found their way into all of our country’s founding documents and organizations.
It is a great legacy and one which imposes on all of us in the Society the obligation to help perpetuate the understanding of it. Not just out of reverence but because these values offer insights as to how we might solve some of the many problems of today’s multi-cultural, multi-ethnic and global world, a world much bigger but in many ways similar to New Netherland.
This year the Board and Patroonesses will join with me in making special efforts to develop and support projects which will help our fellow Americans understand the pragmatic approach to peace and success through commerce that our forebearers created. The Society is working with the New Netherland Institute (NNI) in Albany to make available online the transcription and translation of all of the original seventeenth-century New Netherland administrative records housed at the New York State Library and Archives. The translation of these first founding documents has been an ongoing project of Dr. Charles T. Gehring at the NNI and has transformed our understanding of the impact of the Dutch on our country’s heritage. In addition we have donated our Archives and other important objects to the New-York Historical Society Museum & Library, so that scholars and the public may study them.
We invite you to join with us to celebrate our 120th anniversary.
Elbrun E. Kimmelman