Topic choice worksheet

A. Briefly describe the library research that you did towards choosing a topic. Include at least two reference books that you used and three library search-engine subject headings that you found useful.


Two reference books I looked at included The Encyclopedia of New York City, which was really constructed to tell about modern NYC (though with some explanations rooted in the colonial era) and the Handbook of North American Indians, Vol. 15 Northeast, which has lots of anthropological and historical information on specific groups of Native Americans. Three useful subject headings for the UMW catalog were “Crime–New York (State)–History,” “Law Enforcement–New York (State)–History,” and “New York (State)–History–Colonial period, ca. 1600-1775.” I also browsed shelves near where books I found were located, and found additional materials on Indians and crime and punishment in other colonies, like New Jersey and Massachusetts.


B. Briefly describe the internet research that you did. Name at least one useful website for online archives that you surveyed (do not include simple library catalogs).

I ran Google searches for “Nangenutch” to see if references to this case appeared. I also searched for particular collections of documents that I knew covered these years in early New York, and found some of those collections (edited and published in the 19th century) scanned and sometimes digitized on and Google Books. The New Netherland Institute website also has some sources available, mostly from the Dutch period (not English New York–this case was in 1667, after the English conquest of New Netherland).


C. You should talk to at least one member of this history department about your topic and at least one of the primary sources you have identified for it. Arrive at that meeting with some initial research completed so you have something to discuss. Name that professor and provide a summary of their advice. Please have the professor sign here at you meeting:

I discussed this topic via email with Dr. Sharon Block of the University of California, Irvine. She suggested some secondary literature, including a very recent article in a journal to which UMW doesn’t subscribe, but which she saw before it was published. We discussed a few of the interesting features of the case–the names by which the accused was identified, the patterns in his behavior that seem reminiscent of what she’s discussed in her book, etc. We also talked a bit about how sources get recorded, the level of detail provided in this instance, but also the fact that the published transcription contains lots of holes because the original document was damaged while in storage (this is true of lots of the 17th-century New Netherland/New York records). In talking with Dr. Jeff McClurken of UMW earlier this year, we were focused on the performative aspects of gender, how this instance might assert a new type of masculinity for Nangenutch/Will, and the intersection of his gender status with his race.


D. You must have a primary source for this paper. Provide any pertinent information on that primary source including website and/or call number–in other words, how you’re going to access it.

My primary source is the transcript of the 1667 rape trial of a Montauk Indian named Nangenutch alias Will, in New York. The original source resides in the Archives of the State of New York, but has been transcribed by Charles Gehring for publication; it can be found on pages __-__ of The Administrative Papers of Governors Richard Nicholls and Francis Lovelace, 1664-1673. Simpson Library does not have this book, nor is the document available online. I used ILL to borrow the book from elsewhere, and copied/scanned the relevant pages. Additionally, references to the case appear in Vol. 1 of the Minutes of the Executive Council of the Province of New York, which is available on and Google Books.


E. Are enough secondary sources available on this topic? Briefly discuss the most recent secondary sources you have found that were published by a university press and/or academic journal.

Yes. John A. Strong has written a book about the Montauk Indians, and their experiences with Dutch and English colonization in the 17th century; he also has an article that considers Nangenutch’s case in terms of the extension of legal jurisdiction over Indians. Sharon Block has written extensively about rape in 18th-century America; Cornelia Hughes Dayton has considered women’s legal actions in colonial Connecticut, and considers rape/sexual assault; Kirsten Fischer’s book Suspect Relations addresses sex and race in colonial North Carolina; Merril Smith’s edited volume, Sex Without Consent has essays addressing coerced sex, including one on New Netherland. D. Baker has an article about historical Indian executions, and it mentions this case; HB Weiss has a basic introduction to crime and punishment in New Jersey, and D. Greenberg a similar volume for New York; Yaside Kawashima has written about Indians interacting with colonial Massachusetts’s legal system. Oh yeah, and Susannah Shaw Romney’s book on “intimate relations” in New Netherland just came out last year. So there is some discussion of this case, lots of discussion of rape and sexual power in general, and a fair amount considering Indians and colonial legal systems.


F. Finally, describe your conversations with me about your topic and how your topic has evolved as a result.

Let’s just pretend I don’t have conversations with myself.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *