This substantial volume of over 1200 pages was published in Amsterdam in 1693. It is a description and history of that city, replete with engraved views and plans. Though it has been at Harvard for over a century, its notable provenance, evident in a series of inscriptions, has only recently received proper cataloging. An autograph signature on the half-title reads “Joannes Ritzema 1756. N. York.” Johannes Ritzema (1704-1794), born and educated in Holland, was a leading minister of the Dutch Reformed Church in New York, and an original trustee of King’s College (now Columbia University). The religious tracts he authored and had printed in New York and Philadelphia are rare examples of Dutch language works printed in America before 1800.
Below this a later inscription, in one or more different hands and now faded with age, reads “John R. Hoog. May 10th 1793 & 25th September 1793 Thursday. Rec’d of him [?] Thursday. Peter W. Vrooman. Jno. [John] Livingston.” The precise meaning of the subsequent inscription is not entirely clear. We know John R. Hoog was a grandson of Ritzema’s, and the handwriting thus likely his. The identities of Peter Vrooman and John Livingston are more elusive. The Livingstons of New York were a large and politically powerful family with close ties to the Dutch Reformed Church. The inscription could refer to the Reverend John Henry Livingston (1746-1825), who preached in New York at this time, or perhaps to a more obscure cousin.
An inscription on page 393 reveals a later link in the chain of custody. It reads: ”David Ritzema Bogert 1807. The gift of Mrs. Maria Wilhelmina Hoog Van Schaack.” David Ritzema Bogert (1763-1839) of Hacksensack, New Jersey was another of Johannes Ritzema’s grandsons. Maria Wilhelmina Hoog Van Schaack was Bogert’s aunt (she was also mother to John R. Hoog, who is therefore Bogert’s first cousin). A veteran of the Revolutionary War, Bogert had enlisted in a New Jersey militia company when he was just fourteen, and later survived five months imprisonment by the British. Bogert evidently took an interest in his family’s history. A signed annotation in reference to the engraved double-page view between pages 444-445 reads thus: “The Rev. Johannes Ritzema preached in this Church which occasioned his receiving a call to preach in N. York. Where he arrived in AD 1745. David R. Bogert 1812. Grandson of Ritzema.”
Turning to the bookplate, we see how and when the book finally arrived at Harvard. The inscription there reads “Presented by Mrs. Bogert of Ballston, N. York, in the name of her late husband David R. Bogert, Rec’d Nov. 1, 1841.” With her late husband’s family so firmly rooted in New York, it is curious that Ann (Barkens) Ritzema should give the book to Harvard. In all probability she had some personal connection to Harvard College, perhaps to be uncovered in the course of further research.
[Thanks to Noah Sheola, Bibliographic Assistant, for contributing this post.]