Netherlands scholar delighted to share what he learned locally

This weekend, Eric Ruijssenaars will return to the Capital Region and share some of what he learned

For Holland resident Eric Ruijssenaars, the opportunity to study Dutch history in Albany was a no-brainer.

“For a New Netherland scholar, Albany is the place to be,” said Ruijssenaars, who earlier this year finished a 12-month stint as the scholar-in-residence for the New Netherland Research Center at the New York State Library.

“Both from a scholarly and a personal point of view, it was a wonderful year. I loved working at the New Netherland Research Center and the New York State Archives and Library, and I have fond memories of a good many people there. I was very sad to leave.”

‘35th New Netherland Seminar’

WHERE: Mabee Farm, Route 5S, Rotterdam Junction

WHEN: 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., Friday; 9 a.m. to 12:45 p.m., Saturday


MORE INFO: 486-4815 or [email protected]

‘12th Algonquian Peoples Seminar’

WHERE: New York State Museum, Albany

WHEN: 9 a.m. to 4:15 p.m. Saturday


MORE INFO: 369-8116 or [email protected]

This weekend, Ruijssenaars will return to the Capital Region and share some of what he learned as scholar-in-residence, making presentations at both the 35th annual New Netherland Seminar at the Mabee Farm in Rotterdam Junction and the 12th annual Algonquian Peoples Seminar at the New York State Museum.

Recalling Abraham Staats

He will speak first at the New Netherland Seminar on Friday afternoon, and at the Algonquian Seminar on Saturday at 2 p.m. Both of his presentations will focus on 17th century Albanian Abraham Staats, who came to New York in 1642.

“Here in Holland, I found archival documents about Staats going on an expedition to the Delaware [River], which was when I really started to think about doing some thorough research on him,” said Ruijssenaars. “And then I saw the ad for the New Netherland scholar.”

Ruijssenaars began his residency in Albany in April 2011 and headed back to the Netherlands in May of this year. Charles Gehring, director of the New Netherland Project, said that Ruijssenaars’ visit was paid for by a grant from the Dutch government to the New Netherland Project.

“We got some money for various purposes, and one of the things we always wanted to have was a scholar-in-residence,” said Gehring, who has been translating Dutch documents as director of the New Netherland Project for nearly four decades.

“We wanted to make our resources available to a researcher, we wanted them to be available to help others doing research, and at the end they put together some sort of research paper to show what they had accomplished.”

Ruijssenaars has been a professional researcher for more than 20 years and has a website, He started researching Staats in earnest when a descendant, Timothy Staats of California, asked him to look into Staats’ father-in-law, Joachim Gijsen.

“Gijsen was an admiral for the Dutch West India Company, and that’s how I got interested in Abraham,” said Ruijssenaars. “I found an enormous amount of references to him in Albany. He was a surgeon, a magistrate for a good many years, a fur trader, captain of the burgher guard, and sort of a real estate agent. He was an active founding member of the Dutch Reformed Church in Albany.”

Ruijssenaars said he felt very comfortable doing Dutch research in the Albany area.

“I loved how Dutch upstate New York still is, with many Dutch names of places and persons still existing,” he said. “There’s still a Staats Island and a Staats family descending of Abraham living here who are very proud of their Dutch origin. That helped me feel at home.”

Family member

A member of the Staats family, William Staats, will follow Ruijssenaars at 2:45 p.m. on Saturday at the Algonquian Seminar with his own summation of Abraham Staats and his dealings with the Mohicans. A former computer and accounting professor at Hudson Valley Community College, Staats is the author of the 2009 book “Three Centuries on the Hudson River.”

The Algonquian Seminar is sponsored and put on by the Native American Institute of the Hudson River Valley, created 13 years ago by a group that included East Greenbush author Shirley Dunn. Just last month, Dunn received a special proclamation from the Stockbridge-Munsee Tribal Community Band of Mohican Indians for her outstanding contribution toward educating readers about Native Americans.

The New Netherland Seminar is sponsored and put on by the New Netherland Project and its fund-raising arm, the New Netherland Institute. The group’s current scholar-in-residence is Dennis Maika, a retired history teacher at Fox Lane High School in Westchester County. Succeeding him in April will be well-known author Russell Shorto, whose best-selling 2004 book, “The Island at the Center of the World: The Epic Story of Dutch Manhattan and the Forgotten Colony that Shaped America,” used many of the sources now available at the New Netherland Research Center in the state library.

New Netherland Seminar

Here is the schedule for the 35th New Netherland Seminar:

Friday morning

• “Imagining New Netherland: An Art Historian’s Perspective on the Visual Culture of New Netherland,” by Alena M. Buis, a doctoral candidate in art history at Queen’s University in Toronto.

• “Buildings on Paper: Our Current Knowledge and Understanding of New Netherlandic Architecture,” by Jeroen van den Hurk, architectural historian, Coastal Carolina Research.

• “Curating Van der Donck’s New Netherland,” by Bethany Romanowski, guest curator of the Vander Ende-Onderdonk House in Queens.

Friday afternoon

• “Trading Places: Men, Women and the Negotiation of Gendered Roles in the Port of Nieuw Amsterdam,” by Virginie Adane, a doctoral candidate and teaching assistant at the University of Maine in Le Mans, France.

• “Marriage Law in New Netherland, 1621-1664,” by Deborah Hanner, a doctoral candidate in history at Columbia University.

• “A Man and His Sloop: Abraham Staats on the North River and Beyond,” by Eric Ruijssenaars, Dutch historian and director of

Saturday morning

• “New Light on an Old Story: Re-examining the English Invasion of New Amsterdam, 1660-1664,” by Dennis Maika, New Netherland scholar-in-residence.

• “The New Netherland Landdag: The Development of a Dutch Assembly, 1649-1664,” by Brecht Cornelisse of the University of Leiden.

• “The View From the Dutch Republic: Protestant Conceptualizations of Indians,” by Stephen T. Staggs of Western Michigan University.

• “Researching African and Dutch Exchanges in Early New York,” by Andrea C. Mosterman of the University of New Orleans.

Algonquian seminar

Here is the schedule for the 12th Algonquian Seminar:


• 9 to 9:30 a.m.: Registration

• 9:30 to 10 a.m.: Welcome and board introduction: Mariann Mantzouris and Kevin Fuerst.

• 10 to 10:30 a.m.: “Mohicans in the Civil War,” by Major Joann Schedler, U.S. Army Nurse Corps Reserves.

• 10:30 to 11 a.m.: “Mohican Diet and Disease in Pre-Contact America,” Judy Hartley, historian.

• 11 to 11:30 a.m.: “Esopus Indians and the Ulster County Trader,” by John M. Smith, historian.

• 11:30 to noon: “Hendrick Aupaumut: An Eighteenth Century Mohican Diplomat,” by Katy L. Chiles, author and professor at University of Tennessee.

• 1:30 to 2 p.m.: “The Coeymans Family and the Mohicans,” by Karen Hess, author and docent at the Albany Institute of History & Art.

• 2 to 2:45 p.m.: “A Dutch Founding Father: Abraham Staats,” by Eric Ruijssenaars, Dutch historian and director of

• 2:45 to 3:15 p.m.: “An Overview of Hoogeberg, the Staats Family and the Mohicans,” by William Staats, author of “Three Centuries on the Hudson River” and former professor at Hudson Valley Community College.

• 3:15 to 3:45 p.m.: “Ceremonialism and Inter-Regional Exchange Two Millennia Before the Fur Trade,” by Francis “Jess” Robinson, a doctoral candidate at the University at Albany.

• 3:45 to 4 p.m.: “The Lebanon Spring: A Work in Progress,” by Kevin Fuerst, town of New Lebanon historian.

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