Virtual Lecture Series – Purchase of Manhattan

Program Description: The Hudson Area Library and the Jacob Leisler Institute present: “Imagination Aided by the Painter’s Brush”: The Creation of the Purchase of Manhattan, 1844–1909 by Stephen McErleane.

Date/Time: Thursday, October 22, 6-7:30pm.

Registration: To register and receive the Zoom link email or call 518-828-1792 x101. A question and answer period will follow the talk.

Though it is now known as a fundamental piece of the early history of the city, it was not until 217 years after the event that New Yorkers first learned of the now infamous 1626 purchase of the island of Manhattan by the Dutch from the Indians for twenty-four dollars. This talk follows the construction of that story from its first appearance in the 1840s and focuses on an important and overlooked piece: an 1853 painting of the purchase by the American artist William Ranney. Ranney has been dubbed a myth-maker for his influential depictions of the American Revolution and of life in the American West. His role in the creation of the Manhattan purchase myth, however, has gone largely ignored.

Stephen McErleane is director of the New Netherland Institute and a doctoral candidate in history at the State University of New York at Albany, where he is currently writing a dissertation on the seventeenth-century Dutch colony of New Netherland in history & memory. He also holds a master’s in information science (archives) from SUNY Albany. He is from Stony Point, NY and currently lives in Troy, NY.

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History Room on Zoom – Census

In this episode of the Hudson Area Library’s History Room on Zoom, Gary interviews David Voorhees of the Jacob Leisler Institute for the Study of Early NY History and Tina Lesem, who works at the Hudson Area Library and the Jacob Leisler Institute, on the history of the US Census and the importance of completing the 2020 Census.

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Fall Intern

Jacob Leisler Institute Fall intern Aiven Palafox.

The Jacob Leisler Institute welcomes Fall intern Aiven Palafox to our team. Mr. Palafox is a student in the History Department at SUNY New-Paltz. He will be our first virtual intern.

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New Trustee – Noah Gelfand

An image of new Leisler Institute Trustee Noah Gelfand.

The Board of Trustees of the Jacob Leisler Institute unanimously elected Dr. Noah L. Gelfand as a Trustee at its annual meeting on August 29. Dr. Gelfand is Doctoral Lecturer of History at Hunter College. He received a B.A. in History from the University of Connecticut and an M.A. in US History from San Francisco State University. While studying Atlantic History at New York University, Dr. Gelfand served as a student intern with the Jacob Leisler Papers Project, the forerunner of the Institute. He subsequently received a Ph.D. from NYU in 2008. His research focus has been on the Jewish Atlantic world in the early modern era. Dr. Gelfand brings dynamism and a working experience at the Leisler Institute with him.

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A Wonderful Gift – The 1717 Burgis Prospect

On June 26, Jacob Leisler Institute Director David William Voorhees accepted the generous donation of William Burgis’s, “A South Prospect of Ye Flourishing City of New York in the Province of New York in America, 1717,” from Trustee Gary Laube. The six-foot-wide panoramic illustration of New York City from Brooklyn Ferry is engraved from four plates on four sheets pasted together. This detailed view provides a comprehensive picture of the city’s East River waterfront in the second decade of the eighteenth century when the city’s population had reached around 6,500 people. It is a most appreciated addition to the Institute’s growing collections.

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History Room on Zoom

In this episode of The Hudson Area Library’s History Room on Zoom, Gary Sheffer interviews Tina Lesem and David Voorhees about the Jacob Leisler Institute.

History Room on Zoom: Tina Lesem and David Voorhees

In this episode of The History Room on Zoom, Gary interviews Tina Lesem and David Voorhees, of the Jacob Leisler Institute. The Jacob Leisler Institute studies the history of New York from 1664-1775. The three discuss this very important, but overlooked, period. For more interviews and videos, and to learn more about our community’s rich history, please visit our History Room page at

Posted by Hudson Area Library on Monday, June 15, 2020
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Statement from the Board of Trustees

Aware that during the colonial period it is a tragic fact that black chattel slavery became institutionalized in American culture, the board of the Jacob Leisler Institute takes a firm stance against the resulting legacy of discrimination in all manifestations, the glorification of any people over another, and all violence or other tactics to repress or intimidate any group of people.

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Reopening Update

The Jacob Leisler Institute is carefully adhering to State guidelines regarding reopening for the New York State Capital region. While we remain closed to the public for the immediate future, the staff will conduct research at the office for archival and genealogical queries for its customary fee. 

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Passing of Institute Benefactor R. J. Jippe Hiemstra

A portrait of Jippe Hiemstra.

It is with deep sorrow that we note the passing of Jacob Leisler Institute benefactor R. J. Jippe Hiemstra at his home in Buskirk, New York, on April 12, 2020, of pneumonia and congestive heart failure. Mr. Hiemstra was the husband of Leisler Institute Trustee and Board Secretary Annette van Rooy. He was born on October 3, 1941, in De Bilt, The Netherlands, and moved to New York in 1976 to serve as director and president of Oremco, Inc., a joint venture between Dutch steel producer Hoogovens and British Steel. He became actively interested in New York’s Dutch colonial period and its legacy. He joined the New Netherland Institute’s board of trustees in 2007 and served as its president from 2013 until his death. For his role in helping to promote Dutch culture in the United States and abroad, Queen Beatrix of The Netherlands bestowed upon him the honor of Membership of the Order of Oranje Nassau on April 30, 2005. The trustees and staff of the Jacob Leisler Institute extend our sympathies to Mr. Hiemstra’s wife, Annette, and his family and friends.

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COVID-19 Update

Due to the continuing COVID-19 pandemic crisis, the Jacob Leisler Institute office will continue to operate though in remote mode. We will remain accessible through email ( and phone (518-567-6490). As such pandemics were commonplace in the early modern era, let’s remember that this one too will pass just as they did. In the meantime, remain careful and healthy, and take care of those around you.

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