Friday, January 10, 2014 Adds Selected Dutch Reformed Church Records, 1660-1926

I have at least two sets of Dutch immigrant families who came into colonial New York and New Jersey in my genealogy database, and  I have been lax in trying to find the actual church records that document their baptisms, marriages and deaths.  Usually, I've relied on derivative sources and authored works, like the town histories of Albany and Schenectady, to source the events. added a wonderful new database yesterday - the U.S. Dutch Reformed Church Records from Selected States, 1660-1926.  I'm not sure how complete this collection is, but it surely adds significant online content in an area where the researcher had to rely upon visiting a repository or ordering sets of microfilm from the FamilySearch Library.

The description of this database says:

"This database will be comprised of records from the Reformed Church in America. This database will be updated with content from other states, and currently includes records from New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania.
"Founded in New York City in 1885, the Holland Society is home to collections relevant to the settlement and history of Dutch colonies in America, with an emphasis on New Amsterdam and Hudson River settlements. This Holland Society collection includes records of the Dutch Reformed Church dating back to 1642. Within the collections are records of baptisms, marriages, and burials, primarily from New York, with some from New Jersey and Pennsylvania."
The database page looks like this:

Like most databases, the researcher can search for a person (name, birth year/location, etc.) or browse the database in a State and Town (over on the right side of the page above), and select one of the books for that locality.

I was interested in finding baptism and marriage records for my Van Vorst families, so I picked Jacobus Van Vorst as an example, and entered First Name = jacob* (becuase the name might not be spelled consistently) and Last Name = Vorst (leaving off the "van").  There were 42 matches for the search:

I knew that Jacobus Van Vorst was born in 1703 to Jillis Van Vorst and Elisabeth Van Eps in Schenctady, New York from my earlier library work.  The birth record is the third one down the list above.  Here is the Record Summary:

The Record Summary provides the following information:

*  Name:  Jacobus Van Vorst
*  Event Type:  Baptism
*  Father's Name:  Jellis Van Vorst
*  Mother's Name:  Lysebet Van Neps
*  Baptism Date:  12 Dec 1703
*  Baptism Place:  Schenectady, Schenectady, New York, USA

I clicked on the link to "View Original Image:"

The page above shows the Date, the parent's names (on two lines), the child's name, and the sponsors names (on two lines).  The year is handwritten in the upper left-hand corner of the page.  This is page 16 of the typescript, and is on image 22 of 163 in this specific "Book."

As you can see, this is not the original handwritten church record - it is a typescript taken from the original church record (and we don't know how many transcriptions or abstracts came before this typewritten record).  But it's what we have, and it's probably closer to the original church record than the published Schenectady history book.

How do I know that it's for Schenectady?  Only by using the "back" arrow (at bottom of the screen above), or highlighting the image number and typing in another image number) to find the first page of this "book" (image 2 of 163 of this "book"):

And the column headings are on the next image (Image 3 of 163 in this "book"):

The bread crumb trail on the line above the image indicates that this is Schenectady Baptisms, Volume 1 Book 41.  The source citation for my record is: U.S., Dutch Reformed Church Records from Selected States, 1660-1926 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2014.
Original data: Dutch Reformed Church Records from New York and New Jersey. Holland Society of New York, New York, New York.

Astute source citation junkies will notice that does not identify the state, town, book volume or number, or the specific item found.  That's why I don't rely upon them for my source citations and prefer to craft my own.  Here is how I would craft a source citation in Evidence Explained style for Jacobus Van Vorst's baptism record in the database above:

U.S. Dutch Reformed Church Records from Selected States, 1660-1926, online database and digital images, (, New York, Schenectady, "Schenectady Baptisms," Volume 1, Book 41, typescript, page 16 (mage 22 of 163), Jacobus Van Vorst entry.

I love doing this source citation stuff now!  I enjoy the challenge.

Now I have another resource to "mine" for this information on my Van Vorst, Bradt, Putman, Van Eps, Beck, Mol, Bresee, Van Deusen, and several other Dutch immigrant families in my database.

note that this database may not have every record for every Dutch Reformed Church record book - reading the database description, it seems to say that the database is incomplete.  I may provide a list of the states or towns presently available in another post.

The URL for this post is:

Copyright (c) 2014, Randall J. Seaver


goneresearching said...

Everyone should beware that even the handwritten books in the data collection are TRANSCRIPTIONS not the original records. (The typewriter written ones are obvious.)

I looked at images from numerous books and I noticed the handwriting is the same from church to church. That doesn't happen in original records! Also within a single church, the handwriting would vary with each pastor if it was the original book.

Oh and remember, not every Dutch Reformed church is included.

Be cautious.

Geolover said...

goneresearching's comments are on-target.

While some of the transcripts/ extracts have what seem to be the writer's notes about difficult interpretations, so suggest copying from some original record, there also seem to be omissions from the original when compared with other versions. And definitely not complete with respect to church records known to be extant 100 years ago and more recently.

Anonymous said...

The previous posters are correct--these are the Holland Society's transcriptions of the various Church records. They are a primary source for much of the printed lists in various publications over the last 150 years.

If people are feeling adventurous, you can use for locating Dutch Church records as well.