Back | Articles

Fort Orange Education Program at NY State Schools

The Fort Orange Education Program

The New York State Museum has launched an online resource for educators about New York’s Dutch history, including an educational guide, photos of historic artifacts and artwork, and video interviews with content experts. Launched during a teacher workshop at the Museum on January 31st, the educational guide provides five lessons that introduce students to Fort Orange (present-day Albany, NY) and the world of New Netherland, the first Dutch colony in North America. Find the online resource here.

The educational guide’s lesson topics include Native American daily life before Dutch arrival, trade and global commerce, archaeology, and economic and political tensions. In these lessons, students use digital images of archaeological collections, archival material, and artwork to learn about Fort Orange and New Netherland in the 17th century and develop skills for analyzing and interpreting primary sources.

“This educational resource is a treasure trove of primary source material, photos and videos, and engaging lessons for teachers to use to educate children about what New York State was like in the 17th century,” said Board of Regents Chancellor Betty A. Rosa. “We’re proud to provide this to educators across the state and hope students and teachers alike discover and learn about New York State’s Dutch history.”

“Studying New Netherland is essential to students’ understanding of the history and development of New York State,” said State Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia. “Now teachers can use the wealth of information and research available at the New York State Museum, Library and Archives in the classroom and make this important chapter of our history come alive for New York’s students.”

“This educational guide continues our work in sharing the story of New York’s colonial past and how the Dutch’s influence and impact in the 17th century continues through today,” said Deputy Commissioner of Cultural Education and State Museum Director Mark Schaming. “The State Museum, Library and Archives’ holdings of artifacts and documents related to New York’s Dutch history are unrivaled and allow us to provide this extraordinary educational resource.”

“We highly commend the Fort Orange educational guide, a platform provided by the New York State Museum,” said The Netherlands Cultural Attaché to the United States, Joost Taverne. “This educational resource makes the Dutch history of New York easily accessible for all teachers and students. The Dutch legacy of diversity, trade, and tolerance is still present in New York State today and will help students understand what makes New York so unique in the history of the USA.”

Video interviews with Dr. Paul Huey and the late Joseph McEvoy, retired archaeologists from the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation artist and Len Tantillo have recently been added to the online curriculum and new video interviews with experts will be added to the lessons later on, including interviews with: Dr. Charles Gehring, Director of the New Netherland Research Center; Dr. Janny Venema, Associate Director of the New Netherland Research Center; and Dr. Michael Lucas, Curator of Historical Archaeology at the State Museum. Additional support for the educational guide was provided by the New York State Archives Partnership Trust.

Fort Orange was the first permanent Dutch settlement in New Netherland, built as a trading post by the West India Company in 1624 at the present-day location of Albany, making the city the oldest continuously occupied European settlement in the United States, north of Virginia. Fort Orange was located at the nexus of the lucrative beaver-pelt trade. Between 1624 and 1664, the fort’s role in the development of New Netherland evolved from a point of contact and trade between Native Americans and Europeans to an enclosure with dwellings and private enterprises, and finally an abandoned space consumed by the development of Albany.

The State Museum is a program of the New York State Education Department’s Office of Cultural Education. Located at 222 Madison Avenue in Albany, the Museum is open Tuesday through Sunday from 9:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. It is closed on the Fourth of July, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day. Admission is free. Further information about programs and events can be obtained by calling (518) 474-5877 or visiting the Museum website.

Photos of the project in the classrooms

DutchCulture USA