Over 40,000 Undelivered Dutch Letters Rediscovered

Prize Papers from the National British Archives at Kew, England

With thanks to Board Member Wijnie DeGroot for arranging the program

Dr. Franz Blom will talk on the so-called Prize Papers, a trove of 40,000 commercial and private Dutch letters that never reached their addressees. They were intercepted at sea and brought to England during the wars with the Netherlands, as intelligence information. Later they were stored in the British National Archives, and forgotten for centuries, until they were rediscovered in the late 20th century by Dutch historians.

The talk will focus on letters to and from New Netherland. Those letters introduce us to the thoughts and lives of isolated settlers in the Hudson Valley as well as city dwellers in New Amsterdam.  Most of the authors are women. Some letters were written by children. Dr. Blom’s talk will specifically address the Vrooman letters.

Geertruit Vrooman was a Dutch mother of three living in the Hudson Valley near Albany. In letters to her friend Lady Geertrui van Boetzelaar in Leiden, dating from August to September 1664, when the English took over and New Amsterdam became New York, Ms. Vrooman recounts her disappointments under the Dutch administration and her growing insecurities about the new rulers.

Dr. Blom is an expert on Dutch and Neolatin Literature of the Early Modern Period. His many publications include articles and books on Amsterdam theater life in the 17th century, travel in the early modern period, and the colonies and New Netherland. He created ONSTAGE, an interactive online database on the theater in Amsterdam from 1637 until the modern period. He is one of the foremost experts on the Dutch scholar and writer Constantijn Huygens.

We will post registration information shortly. Meanwhile, if you are interested, email us at events@newamsterdamhistorycenter.org and we will make sure to notify you.


This event has been made possible through the generous support of Sandy Lazo to help further understanding of New Netherland. With thanks to Board Member Wijnie DeGroot for arranging the program.