march, 2023

30mar5:00 pm- 6:00 pmAn Afro-Atlantic Community in 17th Century Amsterdam: Archival Research, Digital Humanities and Public History

Event Details

Date: Thursday, March 30th, 2023

Location: Fayerweather Hall, Room 513, 1180 Amsterdam Avenue, New York, NY 10027

Time: 5:00 – 6:00 PM EST

Register here.

Presenter: Mark Ponte, City Archives Amsterdam

Moderator: Arnoud Visser, Queen Wilhelmina Visiting Professor, Columbia University, and Professor of Textural Culture in the Renaissance, University of Utrecht

In the seventeenth century, steadily more people of African descent came to the Dutch Republic, as servants (whether enslaved or free) or as seafarers. Recent research has revealed that from c. 1630 onward a small free black community emerged in Amsterdam, which can be located in the area around the Jodenbreestraat (‘Jewish Broad Street’). This was an area where also many painters lived, among whom Rembrandt. This new research is based on combining marriage registers with new archival findings, made possible by the progress of All Amsterdam Acts, a large-scale digital humanities project that aims to unlock the complete notary archives of Amsterdam.

Through a combination of presentation and interactive work, this workshop will explore the opportunities and challenges of this type of research, focusing on three components: archival research, digital humanities, and public history (public debates, social media, and exhibitions about the history of slavery).

Mark Ponte is a historian at the Amsterdam City Archives. He has been (co-)curator of recent exhibitions in Amsterdam (‘Black in Rembrandt’s Time’, Museum Rembrandthuis, 2020. ‘Amsterdammers and Slavery’, Amsterdam City Archives, 2020) and Alkmaar (‘Plantation Alkmaar’, Stedelijk Museum Alkmaar, 2022-23).


Mark Ponte, ‘Black in Amsterdam around 1650‘ in: Kolfin and Runia ed., Black in Rembrandt’s Time (W Books/Museum Rembrandthuis 2020) 44-61.

Further literature for those who read Dutch
Mark Ponte, ‘Zwarte vrouwen in het midden van de zeventiende eeuw’, in: Maarten Hell ed., Amstelodomum. Alle Amsterdamse Akten. Ruzie, rouw en roddels bij de notaris, 1578-1915 (Amsterdam 2022) 130-143.
Mark Ponte, ‘Al de swarten die hier ter stede comen’ Een Afro-Atlantische gemeenschap in zeventiende-eeuws Amsterdam’, TSEG/ Low Countries Journal of Social and Economic History, 15(4), pp.33–62. DOI:

This workshop is cosponsored by the Studies of the Dutch-Speaking World and the European Institute.


(Thursday) 5:00 pm - 6:00 pm


513 Fayerweather Hall

513 Fayerweather Hall