This collection from The Archives of the Reformed Church in America includes membership records of the Dutch Reformed Church dating back to 1701. See the browse menu for a list of the states that are included in this database. Documents were collected from Northwestern College, Hope College, and the National Archive for the Reformed Church of America.
For more information see the Reformed Church in America.
Historical Background Henry Hudson’s exploration of the Hudson River Valley in 1609 paved the way for a wave of Dutch immigration that began in 1624 with the settlement of New Amsterdam, in what is now Manhattan. From there the Dutch settlements expanded into upstate New York, Connecticut, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Delaware. While the area was in Dutch control, the Dutch Reformed Church was the state church, although the Dutch were tolerant of other religions. The Dutch lost control of New York in the late 17th century, but many Dutch settlers remained in the area formerly known as New Netherlands and continued to leave their mark on the region.
Many early Dutch used the naming convention known as patronymics. Patronymics make an identifier out of the father’s name with an attached suffix, such as -s, -z, -sen, -zen, -sse, or -sz. Peter who was the son of Jan might be known as Peter Jansen, and his son Jacob might be Jacob Peters. Other names may have reflected the place that person was from, such as Vander Poel, which means “from the pool.” Occupations were sometimes used as well. Be aware that sometimes parts of a family kept to one naming convention, while another branch would use a different one.
Since suffixes could vary, you may want to search this collection by using the root of the surname with the * wildcard for an ending. For example, a search for Cornelis* would pick up both Cornelis and Cornelisse. Similarly, the * can be used for names where a prefix may or may not be present. *Groot would find both De Groot and Groot, among other variations. Note: Either the first or last letter of the name must be a non-wildcard character.