Dutch burial sites in the US: history and protection, 2009

In 2009, the 400th anniversary of the landing of Henry Hudson on the island of Manhattan was extensively celebrated. New research was revealed, many books appeared, and large exhibitions were set up around this theme. In the same year the Dodenakkers.nl foundation proposed for a project involving Dutch burial sites in the US. A collaboration was set up with the Monument Conservation Collaborative (MCC), leaders in the field of historic gravestone conservation in the US with support of historic preservation professor Norman Weiss of the Columbia University.

In two instances many original Dutch cemeteries in the state of New York were visited. Contacts were made with other researchers and volunteers who work on the upkeep of this American-Dutch heritage. Some research on these places was conducted in advance in the Netherlands, with data provided by MCC. Main goal of the visits and research was a lecture at Columbia University in New York, which was held on October 29, 2009.

After the visits and lecture more research was done and the old archives of the Dutch church in New York were examined in Amsterdam. As a result, articles on the subject were published in magazines on cultural heritage, such as the Bulletin of the Royal Dutch Society of Antiquities (KNOB), Vitruvius, a magazine for Archeology, Cultural Landscape and Monuments and the magazine of cemetery-keepers ‘De Begraafplaats’. On the website www.dodenakkers.nl a large article was published as well in Dutch and in English. (Click here for the article)

Goals of the project

By studying the cemeteries in the US where the ancestors of Dutch Americans are buried, we were able to significantly expand our understanding of te way they used to bury and how they used the monuments and markers on their graves. This knowledge was used to point out the common history of our two countries to audiences in the Netherlands, especially around the celebration of the moment 400 years ago that the Dutch sailors set eyes on the great river that was to be named the Hudson.


  • Monument Conservation Collaborative
  • National Service for Archaeology, Cultural Landscape and Built Heritage (RACM, now Rijksdienst voor het Cultureel Erfgoed)
  • The Netherland America Foundation
  • Bureau Funeraire Adviezen
  • Stichting Dodenakkers.nl
  • Columbia University

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Shared Cemeteries is all about (former Dutch) funerary heritage all over the world and is a non-profit partnership committed to sharing knowledge and information.