The Brooklyn Historical Society (AASLH member since 1999) recently announced the release of Dutch Breukelen: Where Brooklyn Began, the latest publication in BHS’s growing digital curriculum library. Designed to transform 2nd – 8th grade classrooms into learning labs about seventeenth-century Brooklyn, Dutch Breukelen contains primary sources (maps, diaries, cookbooks, account ledgers, and drawings) and prompts that will spark curiosity about the early colonial origins of New York’s most populous borough. It is available free of cost via the organization’s website.
“Dutch Breukelen complements and enhances a growing body of curricula about colonial-era New York City — much of which focuses on the growth of New Amsterdam on the southern tip of Manhattan,” said Emily Potter-Ndiaye, Director of Education for BHS. “But Brooklyn’s story is unique, and has regional, national, and even international repercussions.”
The dynamic curriculum enables learners to investigate case studies of Brooklyn’s five original Dutch towns: Breukelen (Brooklyn), Boswijck (Bushwick), Nieuw Amersfoort (Flatlands), Midwout (Flatbush), and New Utrecht (Nieuw Utrecht). Along the way, they will meet a range of colonial-era residents, for example Francisco de Neger, who began his life in the New World enslaved by the Dutch West India company, but successfully petitioned for his freedom and became a founder of the town of Boswijck (today’s Bushwick). These investigations have broad resonance about power-laden interactions in the communities of the New World. The topics included will address formative questions, including:
- What was the relationship between European colonists and Native Americans on Long Island and how — through land transfer, conflicting definitions of property ownership, disease, and war — were the Lenni Lenape dispossessed of their land here?
- Where and how did women access power and exert rights in the New World and how did laws governing family and women shift between Dutch and British rule? How did Brooklyn’s remoteness allow for perpetuation of de facto Dutch practices?
- How did enslaved and freed Africans experience life in the New Netherlands colony and where can we find evidence of their families and legacies?
- What kinds of traditional water management skills did the Dutch bring to Brooklyn and how did that shape their transformations of Brooklyn’s waterfront?
“We are thrilled to support Brooklyn Historical Society in its development of this ground breaking curriculum,” said Rob de Vos, Consul General of the Netherlands in New York. “Using the innovative materials made available on-line, students will be able to explore the many ways in which Dutch culture shaped the city we know today.”
Dutch Breukelen: Where Brooklyn Began is made possible through the generous support of the Dutch Culture USA program by the Consulate General of the Netherlands in New York. It was produced by the Education Department at Brooklyn Historical Society under the project management of Manager of Teaching and Learning Shirley Brown Alleyne in collaboration with curriculum writer Claudia Ocello, archaeologist Alyssa Loorya, graphic designer Carl Petrosyan, and BHS’s Library and Archives and Public History Departments.
Dutch Breukelen: Where Brooklyn Began is available on brooklynhistory.org free of cost.
About Brooklyn Historical Society
Founded in 1863, Brooklyn Historical Society is a nationally recognized urban history center dedicated to preserving and encouraging the study of Brooklyn’s extraordinary 400-year history. Located in Brooklyn Heights and housed in a magnificent landmark building designed by George Post and opened in 1881, today’s BHS is a cultural hub for civic dialogue, thoughtful engagement and community outreach.