The mission of the New Amsterdam History Center (NAHC) is to encourage exploration of the Dutch history of New Amsterdam as it laid the foundational character for today’s New York City, with special reference to its ethnic, racial, and religious diversity, urban landscapes, economic vitality, and global legacy.
NAHC fulfills its mission by linking the past to the present through public lectures and panel discussions, a biannual newsletter, tours, and online research resources all of which since 2005 have enriched public understanding of the continuing Dutch contributions to New York City.
In pursuit of its mission to disseminate information about the formative history of New York City, the New Amsterdam History Center (NAHC), with seed money from the Empire State Development Corporation and the Collegiate Church Corporation of New York, developed an extensive database or “encyclopedia” of historical references that was recently made available to the public. Based on the Castello Plan of 1660, the encyclopedia, entitled Mapping Early New York, is a treasure trove of information from detailed sources connected with map features, particularly tax lots, and provides specific information about streets, houses, residents, and more.
NAHC’s dynamic internet presence, and its mission, now uniquely energized by the public’s access to our database, will enable the creation of school curricula, genealogical research, and the promotion and support of historical scholarship. These will supplement NAHC’s ongoing presence through its website, newsletter, and its historical and cultural activities, programs, and events.
NAHC Board of Trustees
Esme E. Berg, Executive Director
Esme Emmanuel Berg has served as Vice-President and Executive Director of the New Amsterdam History Center since 2008. She joined NAHC as a Trustee and helped to develop its website and lecture series. She has a strong teaching and event planning background having taught ESL at the French-American School of NY, served as Executive Director of the American Sephardi Federation, and worked in public relations promoting French wine. She has been a volunteer at several non-profit organizations, and holds a B.A. in French from New York University and a Masters from Boston University.
Patricia U. Bonomi, Ph.D.
Patricia U. Bonomi, Professor Emerita of American history, New York University, specializes in the colonial and early national periods. She holds a Ph.D., Columbia University 1970. Fellowships: American Council of Learned Societies, Guggenheim Foundation, Rockefeller Foundation, National Endowment for the Humanities. Publications include ” ‘Swarms of Negroes Comeing about My Door’: Black Christianity in Early Dutch and English North America,” Journal of American History, (June 2016); The Lord Cornbury Scandal: The Politics of Reputation in British America(1998); Under the Cope of Heaven: Religion, Society, and Politics in Colonial America (1986); A Factious People: Politics and Society in Colonial New York (1971; 2014).
Michael E. Cavanaugh, Esq.
A NAHC trustee since 2018, Michael E. Cavanaugh is a partner at the Manhattan law firm of Kranjac Tripodi & Partners LLP. Michael graduated with honors from the University of Notre Dame in 1982 with a BA in Psychology, and received his JD from Albany Law School of Union University in 1986. Albany sparked Michael’s passion for urban archaeology and, in particular, the study of the Dutch roots evident today in both New York and New Jersey.
Wijnie de Groot
Wijnie de Groot has taught the Dutch language at Columbia University in New York City since 2000 at the elementary, intermediate, and advanced levels. She also teaches a course on seventeenth-century Dutch and paleography. She developed and teaches a summer course for Ph.D. students entitled Modern Dutch for Reading Knowledge and Reading 17th Century Texts through the Shared Course Initiative in conjunction with Yale and Cornell universities. Her research interests include the history of the Dutch language and the history of the Low Countries. Wijnie holds an MA in Slavic Languages as well as an MA in General Linguistics from the University of Amsterdam
Toya Dubin helped to launch the NAHC’s Mapping Early New York, a detailed encyclopedia of Dutch Colonial History linked to maps of the Castello Plan, the earliest map of New Amsterdam: https://nahc-mapping.org/mappingNY. Ms. Dubin is President of Hudson Archival, responsible for the digitization of the Dutch Documents collection at the New York State Archives. She lives in the Hudson Valley surrounded by Dutch history.
Firth Haring Fabend, Ph.D.
Firth Fabend is the author of A Dutch Family in the Middle Colonies,1660-1800 (1991); Land So Fair (2008), a historical novel set in the Early New York period, treating in fiction this same family; and a historical poem in book form, A Catch of Grandmothers (2004), which portrays the women in this family over ten generations. Other books are Zion on the Hudson: Dutch New York and New Jersey in the Age of Revivals (2000) and New Netherland in a Nutshell: A Concise History of the Dutch Colony in North America (2012). She is the author also of several dozen shorter essays and chapters in books concerning New Netherland and its legacy. Her work has received many awards, the most recent being the New Netherland Institute’s Alice P. Kenney Memorial Award in 2017. She is the President of the Jacob Leisler Institute for the Study of Early New York History.
Casey R. Kemper
Casey Kemper, CRE, President Kemper Advisors, is an experienced professional and leader in real estate management and consulting, as well as not for profit management and leadership. Casey has served as an executive of public and private corporations, and an endowed faith-based organization. After his tenure as Chief Operating Officer of Collegiate Church Corporation, he co-founded K4 Real Estate Group, an advisory service. Mr. Kemper holds a degree in Business Management from Southern Illinois University and an MBA from Babson College. He is a co-founder of New Amsterdam History Center, where he is Past President (2010-2018).
Jan Seidler Ramirez, Ph.D.
Dr. Jan Seidler Ramirez is the founding Chief Curator and Executive Vice President of Collections at the National September 11 Memorial and Museum in New York City. Previously, she served as Vice President and Museum Director at the New-York Historical Society, where she played a major role in developing that institution’s real-time History Responds initiative. In her career Ramirez has held curatorial, collections development and senior administrative posts at museums in Boston and New York, including the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, the Hudson River Museum and the Museum of the City of New York. She received her dissertation in American Studies from Boston University.
Suzanne Roff, Ph.D
Suzanne Roff, PhD, a New Yorker since the early 1990s, is a psychologist and Adjunct Assistant Professor at New York University, School of Professional Studies. In her former private practice, she provided services as a psychotherapist and later as an executive coach. Currently, she is writing a historical fiction novel. In addition to Suzanne’s interest in history, heritage, and genealogy, she now serves as the Directress General of the Society of Daughters of Holland Dames, and Trustee of the New Amsterdam History Center.
Ina Lee Selden, Vice President
Ina Lee Selden is president of MANHATAN PASSPORT, a specialized tour company that customizes visits to New York City and the Hudson Valley for corporate, cultural and student groups. She has written from Rome for the New York Times, and taught American English to civil servants and interpreters at the European Union headquarters in Brussels. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Languages and Linguistics from Georgetown University and done graduate work in linguistics at Stanford University. She has created New York and How It Got That Way, a tour of Manhattan that helps explain why Manhattan looks and thinks the way it does.
Vanessa Bezemer Sellers, Ph.D, is the Director of the Humanities Institute at the New York Botanical Garden. Previously she taught at the Bard Graduate Center and worked for the Metropolitan Museum of Art. She also served as a Summer Fellow in Gardens and Landscape Studies at Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection in Washington, D.C. Her area of expertise is seventeenth-century Dutch gardens. Vanessa earned her Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts in Art History from Leiden University, the Netherlands, and continued her studies in the United States, completing her Ph.D. in Art History and Archeology at Princeton University.
Andrew Terhune received his BS from Trinity College, Hartford, and an MBA from Columbia University. He spent most of his career with Toll Brothers in Philadelphia. He was President of the Holland Society of New York from 2016 to 2020 and still serves on its Board of Trustees. His hobbies include family genealogy and golf. He and his wife, Janice, live with their three cats in Philadelphia and Naples, FL.
James Van Splinter, Esq.
James Van Splinter is a litigation/intellectual property attorney at Kranjac Tripodi & Partners on Wall Street. A lifelong New Jersey New Jersey of Dutch descent, he is a graduate of Boston College Law School and the New Jersey Institute of Technology. James has had a lifelong interest in history, particularly that of the Tri-State area. He assisted in the preservation of the John W. Rea House in Hawthorne, NJ. The house was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1999. James currently resides in Morris County, with his wife and two children. James is learning Dutch in his spare time.
Tom Visée, President
Tom Visée became president of NAHC in March 2020 after five years of involvement. He is Dutch and was raised valuing national history. Thanks to reading The Island at the Center of the World in 2014 he got a better understanding and appreciation of the 17th Century overseas part of history he wasn’t taught about in school. He wants to help New Yorkers appreciate their shared history too.
In daily life he serves as a husband, father of two, and transportation planner for HDR, a worldwide engineering firm in Manhattan after moving to New York in 2014.
Marc J. Yland, MD, is an anesthesiologist in Stony Brook, NY, and is affiliated with multiple hospitals in the area. He has been in practice for more than twenty years. He attended Erasmus Medical School in Rotterdam, The Netherlands, began his training in surgery at Mt. Sinai Hospital, and completed his residency in Anesthesiology at the University Medical Center at Stony Brook. He is the author of numerous articles on spinal cord stimulation, has received many awards, and was the first to introduce a number of advanced pain managements techniques on Long Island beginning in 1996. Dr. Yland served as President of the Suffolk County Medical Society. In the past few years he has developed a growing interest in the history of New Amsterdam and in exploring his Dutch roots. He has been a loyal supporter and enthusiast of NAHC activities over the years.
- Christopher Moore
- Kenneth Chase
- Rett Zabriskie
NAHC Advisory Board
Robin van Bokhorst
Robin van Bokhorst was born on the island of Curaçao. Robin holds an LLM from Leiden University in the Netherlands. Robin is a partner with the law firm STvB, which has offices in Curaçao, New York, and Amsterdam, and is a Principal at Valico Holdings LLC, a family office with diversified holdings across the real estate, finance, and media sectors. Robin sits on the WCS Council of the Wildlife Conservation Society and is a member of the Advisory Council of the Fabien Cousteau Ocean Learning Center. He lives in New York City with his wife and two children.
Kenneth H. Chase
Kenneth H. Chase was Secretary and Trustee of New Amsterdam History Center for thirteen years. A Great Consistory Elder of West End Collegiate Church (founded in 1628 by the Dutch), Ken helped organize a 2009 Henry Hudson Commemorative Service including the Prince and Princess of the Netherlands. 1/64 th part Dutch himself, Ken belongs to the Holland Society of New York, the St. Nicholas Society, and the Dutch Settlers Society of Albany. He is a Board Member and Book Award Chair of Sons of the Revolution. Ken received A.B. and LL.B. degrees from the University of Pennsylvania and was associated with Davis Polk & Wardwell for twenty-three years.
Marilyn E. Douglas
Marilyn E. Douglas, BA, MSLS, a founding member of the New Netherland Institute, has been secretary, treasurer, vice president, and currently serves as President. As a librarian, she worked at the New York Public Library and spent eight years in London, England, as a school librarian and Chair of the English Department. Upon returning to Albany, her career included technical services, reference, legislative and governmental services, and she worked as a regional library consultant. She established the nonprofit New York State Interagency Information Group and helped develop the Pine Hills Film Colony, the Beautify Upper Madison Project, and the PHNA-Upper Madison Group. She is currently Vice President of the Pine Hills Neighborhood Association (PHNA) and Treasurer of the annual Upper Madison Street Fair in Albany.
D. Joshua Taylor
D. Joshua Taylor is a nationally known and recognized speaker and author on genealogy and family history. Joshua is the President of the New York Genealogical & Biographical Society (NYG&B, New York’s oldest and largest genealogical organization). He holds an MLS (Archival Management) and an MA (History) from Simmons College and in 2017 was named one of Library Journal’s Movers and Shakers. He has been a featured genealogist on Who Do You Think You Are? and can be seen taking Americans through their past as a host on the popular PBS series Genealogy Roadshow.
Jan Willem van Bergen Henegouwen
Jan Willem van Bergen Henegouwen has developed a unique blend of business experience and community service and over three decades has risen to the top ranks of the hospitality industry. In doing so, he has accumulated a rare and valuable combination of experience at leading
hotels and resorts, with C-suite contacts worldwide. With his entrepreneurial approach he has created, served, and advised many non-profits; perhaps most notable, was his contribution to transforming Hell’s Kitchen, serving as Board President of the Residential and Commercial Sections of the Worldwide Plaza Complexes for nineteen consecutive years, and co-founding the Student Outreach serving the two schools in the neighborhood.
- Our ship, a Dutch Fluyt, was the essential vehicle for Dutch global trade and commerce in the Seventeenth Century
- A windmill is the symbol of Dutch culture and technology
- The silhouette reminds us of the rich human stories of the first people of New Amsterdam