Russell Shorto discusses New Netherland influence on NY at Dutchess

Photo of Russell Shorto by Keke Keukelaar

Russell Shorto was one of the first historians to be allowed access to Albany’s rich archive of primary documents from the era of Dutch colonization of what is now New York, as they were being translated into English by the New Netherland Project. The best-known product of those early researches was his 2004 blockbuster The Island at the Center of the World: The Epic Story of Dutch Manhattan, and the Founding Colony that Shaped America. It’s an engaging tale of how the philosophical fruits of the European Enlightenment, borne to New Netherland by Dutch settlers, seeded New York City’s destiny as a cradle of diversity and liberalism and a welcoming harbor for immigrants.

Shorto has written several more histories since then, including Descartes’ Bones, Amsterdam and Revolution Song, but Island at the Center of the World was the contribution that really provoked scholars to rethink the origins of the “American experiment” as growing as much from Dutch roots as British ones. The author returns to this topic in a free lecture coming up on Tuesday, October 16 at the James and Betty Hall Theatre, located in Dutchess Hall on the SUNY-Dutchess campus.  Shorto’s talk, “The Dutch in Us: The Remarkable Influence of the Netherlands on New York and Beyond,” will discuss how the Dutch colony established in Manhattan prior to the arrival of the British gave rise to American ideals.

Part of the community college’s Dr. D. David Conklin Distinguished Lecture Series, the lecture begins at 7 p.m. To learn more about the historian’s work, visit


Russell Shorto talk
Tuesday, Oct. 16
7-9 p.m., free
James & Betty Hall Theatre, Dutchess Hall
53 Pendell Road