Russell Shorto

16 Replies to “Q: When Is New York Not New York?”

  1. Sally Parker says:

    I recently discovered Dutch roots in the Hudson Valley and have been taking similar winding-road drives. I’m moving there next month because I can’t resist any longer! The past pulls at me – you said it perfectly: “our perpetual astonishment that the past was once a living reality.” My eighth great-grandfather shows up at least 70 times in the translated Dutch records in the Ulster County Archives for various offenses, including wife-beating. Why does the space of 400 years make this more fascinating than infuriating?Thank you for bringing us along on this trip.

    1. russell-admin says:

      Sally: Many thanks for writing and for the kind words!

  2. Frederick Vreeland says:

    Dear Mr Shorto: Your writings about Dutch New York State are fascinating to me, thanks to my grandfather, Herbert Harold VREELAND (active 1860-1902 as President of several NY City tram-lines). Do you happen to know where his father, a pastor of the Dutch Reformed Church, had his church and congregation in upper New York State?

    1. russell-admin says:

      I’m afraid I do not. But you might contact the New Netherland Institute in Albany.

  3. Elisabeth Brau says:

    I just read your article ‘Take a Drive Back in Time’ in the NYT, June 23, 2019 … and HOPE that your next book will enlarge on this theme. You are a splendid writer … incidentally, the Dutch Yonkheer and the Prussian Junker share much and yet are historically so different. Congratulations.

    1. russell-admin says:

      Many thanks, Elisabeth!

  4. Elisabeth Braun says:

    Take a Drive back in Time (NYT 6/23/2019) is a splendid follow up to your previous ‘Island at the Center of the World’ and ‘Amsterdam’ I hope that your next book in this genre will expand on the ‘Drive back in Time.’ Your gift for rhythm of/in language is rare and a delight to read. Thank you!

    1. russell-admin says:

      Many thanks!

  5. Mark says:

    Hello Russell, I am interested in knowing if you ever came across any reference to a monster, similar to the Loch Ness monster, living in the Hudson River in the 1600 or 1700’s. I have heard it referred to as Kispie, I assume after the city of Poughkeepsie. Thanks for your time

    1. russell-admin says:

      Hi. I don’t recall any such story. Thanks for writing.

  6. Very interesting article, but surprising how few Dutch descendants you met along the way.. The earliest Van Deusen arrived in New Amsterdam in 1630, moved to Albany it 1664 and populated Columbia County. Van Deusen house in Hurley was capital of the state when the British burned Kingston. My grandfather was born in Kinderhook. I really appreciate your books, but wonder how much of our history is being glossed over? I am also a trustee of the Holland Society.

    1. russell-admin says:

      Are you seriously suggesting that I have glossed over the Dutch history in America? I’ve devoted much of my career to un-glossing it. Sorry it’s not enough for you.

  7. Sally C Fouhse says:

    Hi – I LOVED your book “The Island at the Center of the World.” In fact, my husband and I are making a “pilgrimage” to the Albany County Hall of Records in Oct., just to see some of the documents translated by Dr. Gehring. And, we’ll be doing the Hudson Valley drive, as described in your excellent June 17, 2019 article, to get to Albany from Manhattan. No, I’m not Dutch, just a history nerd. Retired from the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation. Would love to meet you, if you are in Albany on Oct. 9. I’m at Thanks!

    1. russell-admin says:

      Hi Sally. Thanks for writing. I won’t be in Albany on that date (I live in Maryland). But you’ll love it. In case you’re interested, I’m about to release an online course on writing family history. Best of luck! Russell Here’s the link.

  8. Max Rosenblum says:

    Just got back from NL barging down the Vecht and passed right through Breukelen. A small nautical bookstore in Rotterdam recommended “Island” to me and I’m loving it! Can’t wait to read what you’re cooking up next.

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About the Author

  I was born in Johnstown, Pennsylvania. I have three children (Anna, Eva and Anthony) and three step-children (Reinier, Hector and Benjamin).  I write books of narrative history; I believe history is most meaningful to us when it manifests itself through individuals in conflict. My books have been published in fourteen languages and have won numerous awards.  I am senior scholar at the New Netherland Institute and a contributing writer at the New York Times Magazine. My interests include the past, the present and the future, not necessarily in that order.  

photo by Keke Keukelaar