Dutch Farm House, circa 1890

The story of the Lefferts family reveals new insights about Brooklyn’s history from the seventeenth century until today. Explore some of the rich resources available at BHS and beyond.

Resources on this website

Visit the online image gallery to see digitized images from the Lefferts collection.

Explore our digital exhibit to learn more about the history of Flatbush, Brooklyn, and beyond through the eyes of the Lefferts family.

Resources at Brooklyn Historical Society

Interested in seeing more materials from the Lefferts family papers up close?  Visit the Othmer Library at BHS.

Find information on making a research appointment at the library here.

Access the finding aid for the Lefferts family papers (call number: ARC.145) here.

Find information on searching for other materials in BHS’s collections here.

BHS archival collections related to the Lefferts family

Brevoort family papers, 1977.285

The Brevoort family papers (1760-1879) document the personal and business lives of four generations of Brevoort family members. The genealogical records included in the collection make several references to the Lefferts family.

Lott family papers, ARC.186

The Lott family papers (1702-1954) pertain to several generations of the Lott family in Brooklyn. The collection reflects the Lott family’s close financial and personal ties with other early Brooklyn families, including the Lefferts family.

Charles A. Ditmas collection, ARC.196

The Charles A. Ditmas collection (1687-1935) contains documents pertaining to the Kings County Historical Society, and manuscripts written by Charles A. Ditmas, spanning the years from 1687-1935. The Leffertses are among the families chronicled in the collection.

Brooklyn neighborhood associations and civic organizations publications collection, ARC.167

This collection includes two items related to the Lefferts Manor Association. Lefferts Manor is a twentieth-century housing development that sits on land originally part of the Lefferts family’s Flatbush homestead.

DeWitt Clinton papers, ARC.021

The DeWitt Clinton papers include a letter from New York Governor Clinton regarding Leffert Lefferts’s desire to resign as a judge from the Kings County Court.

Gravesend assessors and collectors order, 1977.112

This collection includes one item: an order, dated 1746, to the assessors and collectors of the town of Gravesend in Kings County to collect taxes and deliver them to County Treasurer Peter Lefferts. It is signed by S. Gerrtisen, Rutgert Van Brunt, and others.

Gertrude Lefferts Vanderbilt collection, 1974.168

The Gertrude Lefferts Vanderbilt collection (1737-1818) pertains to the legal and financial history of Gertrude Lefferts Vanderbilt husband’s family, the Vanderbilts. The papers include references to John and Peter Lefferts.

Gabriel Furman papers, ARC.190

The Gabriel Furman papers include several pages from a Furman letter book, composed mainly of letters written to his father William in 1824. Judge Leffert Lefferts is among the Brooklyn political figures mentioned in the correspondence.

Nehemiah Denton papers, 1977.171

The Nehemiah Denton papers (1785-1844) pertain to Denton’s business affairs. His property records include a deed for land in Flatbush purchased by Leffert Lefferts.

Brooklyn Civil War relief associations papers, ARC.245

This collection documents the Brooklyn and Long Island Fair of 1864, also known as the Sanitary Fair, a benefit organized by Brooklynites, mainly women, to raise money for the U.S. Sanitation Commission during the Civil War. Gertrude Lefferts Vanderbilt was one of the fair’s chief organizers; the collection includes an album of autographed writings compiled by Vanderbilt, with contributions by Nathaniel Hawthorne, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, James Fenimore Cooper, and others.

Further reading on the Lefferts family and Brooklyn history

Armbruster, Eugene L. The Ferry Road on Long Island. New York: G. Quattlander, 1919.

Back, Adina and Francis Morrone. Flatbush Neighborhood History Guide. New York: Brooklyn Historical Society, 2008.

Bergen, Teunis G. Genealogy of the Lefferts Family, 1650-1718. Albany, New York: Joel Munsell, 1878.

Fingerhut, Eugene R. and Joseph S. Tiederman. The Other New York: The American Revolution beyond New York City, 1763-1787. Albany, New York: State University of New York Press, 2005.

Gellman, David Nathaniel and David Quigley. Jim Crow New York: A Documentary History of Race and Citizenship, 1777-1877. New York: New York University Press, 2004.

Harris, Augustus. “Documenting Samuel Anderson, Quite Possibly the Last Slave of Flatbush Town.” Journal of the Afro-American Historical and Genealogical Society. Volume 20, No. 1 (2001), 27-43.

Haughwout, Lefferd Merle Alexander. Lefferts-Haughwout Family: A Chart Genealogy in Eight Generations of the Descendants of Pieter Janse Hagewout. New York: T.A. Wright Press, 1903.

Linder, Marc and Lawrence S. Zacharias. Of Cabbages and Kings County: Agriculture and the Formation of Modern Brooklyn. Iowa City, Iowa: University of Iowa Press, 1999.

Postma, Johannes. The Dutch in the Atlantic Slave Trade, 1600-1815. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1990.

Rosen, Deborah A. “Women and Property Across Colonial America: A Comparison of Legal Systems in New Mexico and New York.” William and Mary Quarterly. Volume LX, No. 2 (April 2003), 355-381.

Shapiro, Laura. Perfection Salad: Women and Cooking at the Turn of the Century. New York: Holt, 1987.

Snyder, John J. Tales of Old Flatbush. New York: John J. Snyder, 1945.

Stiles, Henry Reed. A History of the City of Brooklyn. 3 Volumes. New York: Henry Reed Stiles, 1867-1870.

Strong, Thomas M. The History of the Town of Flatbush, in Kings County, Long Island. New York: T.R. Mercein, Jr., 1842.

Vanderbilt, Gertrude Lefferts. The Lefferts Family: Written for my Brother’s Children by their Aunt. Brooklyn, New York: Kings County Historical Society, 1897.

Vanderbilt, Gertrude Lefferts. The Social History of Flatbush, and Manners and Customs of the Dutch Settlers in Kings County. New York: D. Appleton & Co., 1881.

White, Shane. Somewhat More Independent: The End of Slavery in new York City, 1770-1810. Athens, Georgia: University of Georgia Press, 1991.

Wilder, Craig Steven. A Covenant with Color: Race and Social Power in Brooklyn. New York: Columbia University Press, 2000.

Other places to explore Brooklyn's rich Dutch heritage

The Lefferts Historic House, the family’s Flatbush homestead built during the 1780s, was relocated to Prospect Park in 1918 and is open to the public. The museum includes period rooms, exhibits, a working farmyard, and artifacts that belonged to the Lefferts family.

The Wyckoff Farmhouse Museum was built in 1652 and is the oldest surviving structure in New York City. It is also open to the public.

The Hendrick I. Lott Homestead was purchased from the Lott family by New York City in 2002. Because it is being restored, the house is currently closed to the public.

The Old Stone House, a landmark WPA-era reconstruction on the site of the 1699  Vechte farmhouse, was a key location in the 1776 Battle of Brooklyn.  It is open to the public on Saturdays and Sundays from 11 – 4, or by appointment.

The Jan Martense Schenck House dates back to the seventeenth century. It now occupies its own period room at the Brooklyn Museum.