Dutch New York Between East and West: The World of Margrieta van Varick
"...using the probate inventory of Margrieta van Varick's possessions, compiled in 1696, as a means of examining life and culture in colonial New York"
Dutch New York made a major contribution to the quadricentennial celebration and to the scholarship of colonial New York by focusing on the life and times of a woman who during the 17th century lived in the rural village of Flatbush on eastern Long Island, a neighborhood still known by that name in the borough of Brooklyn today. The exhibition helped elucidate what the historian Russell Shorto has called the "forgotten colony" (in his book The Island at the Center of the World). Indeed, the British roots of New York City are recognized far more widely than the Dutch, despite the city's visible connections to the Dutch founders, most evident in street names such as Amsterdam Avenue and Varick Street.
Dutch New York offered an innovative approach to exhibition practice by using the probate inventory of Margrieta van Varick's possessions, compiled in 1696, as a means of examining life and culture in colonial New York. Born in Amsterdam in 1649, Margrieta spent several years at the other end of the Dutch colonial world in the Far East, primarily in Malacca (present day Malaysia) before returning to the Netherlands with her minister husband Rudolphus. In 1686 Margrieta and her family crossed the Atlantic to settle in Flatbush where Rudolphus was minister of the Dutch Reform Church and where she opened a textile shop, having brought with them an astonishing array of Eastern and European goods.
Commemorating the 400th anniversary of Henry Hudson’s voyage and the lasting legacy of Dutch culture in New York, this book explores the life and times of a fascinating woman, her family, and her things. Margrieta was born in the Netherlands but lived at the extremes of the Dutch colonial world, in Malacca on the Malay Peninsula and in Flatbush, Brooklyn. When she came to New York in 1686 with her husband and set up a shop, she brought an astonishing array of Eastern goods, many of which were documented in an inventory made after her death in 1695. Extensive archival research has enabled a collaborative team to reconstruct her story and establish the depth of her connection to Dutch trading establishments in Asia. This is a groundbreaking contribution to the histories of New York City, the Dutch overseas empire, women, and material culture.
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