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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Spring Interns

The Jacob Leisler Institute is delighted to have two interns join the team this semester.

Welcome to Columbia-Greene Community College student Vincent DeMarco and SUNY New-Paltz student Eric Knapp.

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Ruth Piwonka Honored

Front cover of the book A Visible Heritage: A History in Art and Architecture by Ruth Piwonka and Roderic Blackburn.

Municipal historian for the village and town of Kinderhook, and treasurer of the Jacob Leisler Institute, Ruth Piwonka is this year’s recipient of the Martha Washington Woman of History Award. The award, given by the Washington’s Headquarters State Historic Site, honors a woman who has made significant contributions to the history of the Hudson Valley. The award presentation will be on March 22, at the site in Newburgh.

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Opening Reception

The History of the Census in Hudson
Hudson Area Library
51 N 5th St., Hudson, NY.
Thursday, February 6

Everyone is invited to the opening reception of ‘The History of the Census in Hudson’ exhibition curated by the Hudson Area Library and the Jacob Leisler Institute for the Study of Early New York History, for a shared viewing and conversation with refreshments. 

Since ancient times, societies have kept counts of their populations for various purposes. This exhibit examines the United States federal censuses that have been taken since 1790, the New York State censuses taken since 1825, colonial censuses that precede the American revolution, and the upcoming 2020 federal census. Focusing on Hudson, from its founding and even earlier times, the exhibition includes original 1845 census books for the City, displayed alongside maps, documents and images that illuminate the area’s growth and history. Additional information, regarding the 2020 census and its importance to Hudson and its inhabitants will also be on view.

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2020 Lecture Series

On January 9, Dr. David W. Voorhees delivered the first lecture of the 2020 series in the Hudson Area Library’s History Room. His topic, colonial census enumerations in what is now Columbia County, brought out many interested local residents.

The next lecture, given by New Netherland Institute Director Stephen McErleane, will be on Thursday, April 9.

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Karlijn Waterman Visits

Karlijn Waterman and David Voorhees in the office of the Leisler Institute examining papers from Karlijn's late husband Kees.

The Jacob Leisler Institute was delighted yesterday to host Karlijn Waterman, wife of late trustee Kees-Jan Waterman, who donated to the Institute her husband’s extensive collection of materials relating to colonial European-Algonquian and Iroquoian relations in New York and New Jersey. Ms. Waterman, Coordinator of Dutch as a Foreign Language at Nederlandse Taalunie, brought with her several more of her late husband’s files to be added to the Institute’s collections.

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Collaboration with Basel University

"Sandgrube," house built in Basel, Switzerland, in 1746 as the home of Achilles Leissler.

“Sandgrube,” built in Basel, Switzerland, in 1746 as the home of Achilles Leissler (1723-1784), became this month the new location of the European Global Studies Institute in Basel. Achilles Leisler was a grandson of Jacob Leisler’s brother Franz Leisler. The Jacob Leisler Institute and the Europainstitut of Basel University are now collaborating in recovering the global connections of the Leisler family.

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A standing-room only crowd for the latest in the Lecture Series

A crowded room in close attention as Tim Bowman presents his lecture.
“Slavery and Dutch – Palatine Farmers: How did middle class farmers in Colonial New York interact with slavery?” at the Hudson Area Library, Thursday, September 12, 2019.

Thank You to Travis Bowman for an illuminating lecture, to Tina Lesem for organizing it, to the Hudson Area Library for hosting, and to everyone in the standing-room only crowd for attending.

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Mary Collins joins the Institute

Mary Collins, who recently joined the Institute, sitting at a table in the library/office.

The Leisler Institute is pleased to announce that Mary Collins has joined the Institute as our Librarian. Ms. Collins has a Master of Library and Information Science with a concentration in rare books and special collections, a nearly completed Master of Arts from the City University of New York Graduate Center, and holds the Certified Genealogist credential. She is former librarian at the Holland Society of New York. We are delighted to have her join us as a colleague.

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Lecture – Thursday, September 12, 6:00pm Slavery and Dutch – Palatine Farmers

Two Men Pointing at a Boy by Jan Luyken, c. 1711, Courtesy of the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam.

As part of our on-going lecture series, the Leisler Institute, in conjunction with the Gotham Center, and the Hudson Area Library History Room, present, Slavery and Dutch – Palatine Farmers: How did middle class farmers in Colonial New York interact with slavery? In New York State slavery existed for 200 years and recent interest and research, particularly focused on the Hudson Valley area, confronts this reprehensible fact. This lecture is an opportunity to learn how slave labor led to the prosperity of many families in the region and also may have eventually influenced the abolition movement. 

Travis Bowman examines how slavery evolved in New York under the Dutch, British, and American systems of government and how the institution was utilized at a local and personal level among middle class farmers in the Hudson and Mohawk Valleys. Mr. Bowman is the Senior Curator of the New York State Bureau of Historic Sites, where he is responsible for the research, care, and exhibition of the collections at New York State’s historic sites and parks.

There is a question and answer period and refreshments after the talk. 

Hudson Area Library
51 North 5th St.
Hudson, NY.

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