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Persistence hard currency for authors writing on Dutch community history

Undergraduate students starved for material 

Tags: Excerpts from the Windmill

LANGLEY, British Columbia - University students searching for information on the Dutch experience in any geographical area in North America, often draw blanks at university reference libraries, archives collections and in local library and museum card systems. Difficulty in finding material often compels students (with a Dutch background) to focus on more general and easily accessible subjects.

A fairly superficial survey of some depositories revealed that many have collected interesting material on the Dutch community. However, it is not necessarily linked that way, which makes it difficult to use as a connection for a news report or study.

One provincial archive lists several entries under the word Dutch but none had any relevancy in this case as ‘Dutch elm disease’ fell outside the criteria. Interestingly, there were several entries under Netherlands in reference to a high quality gift from a local Dutch community which for some years regularly was featured in local news. All Holland entries concerned non-Dutch individuals with that family name except one which reported an event at a Dutch club.

In sharp contrast, controversies in other ethnic communities rated a virtually endless number of entries in index systems. It could mean that lack of research results notwithstanding the Dutch seem to fit in quite well in their new environment.

Non-existing material

Trying another key word - ‘Van’ - in the index system produced overwhelming results outperforming even the most troublesome ethnic community in this particular province: those who carry this prefix in their surname. In the end, this result also turned up little of value for the research purpose.

According to a reference librarian, many undergraduate students simply look for non-existing material because they undertake a subject that may have some appeal based on personal experiences. A completed project will only be available to others if it is posted on the Internet, which some students do. Such a service to others could be abused since plagiarism is widespread among students, the librarian cautioned.

Some (ethnic) communities very actively encourage (and subsidize) anyone interested in researching their collective or segment history for (academic) books and articles. The Dutch community lacks such collective vision. Almost all of the available material has been produced as a result of the author’s own persistence al-though frequently with some third party, non-Dutch community assistance. A small number of denomination-owned depositories have gathered major collections. These collections usually are open for visiting researchers and will assist serious inquiries by phone, fax or email.

Heritage Hall, Calvin College 3201 Burton Street SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49546 1-616-957-6313

It also publishes Origin, a quarterly magazine on the history of the Christian Reformed (CRCNA) denomination and related subjects.

The Joint Archives of Holland / Rev. A.C. Van Raalte Institute Hope College Campus, Holland, MI 49423 616-395-7798 fax 616-395-7197

The Joint Archives which combines Reformed Church in America (RCA) history with that of Hope College and of its local community of Holland, publishes a newsletter. The Rev. A.C. Van Raalte Institute conducts academic research and produces books and articles, primarily on the post 1840s period and takes in all Reformed denominations. 

Herrick Public Library 300 S River, Holland, MI 49423 616-355-1400

The collection is particularly focusing on the Holland, Michigan area and of interest for research on family history.

New Brunswick Theological Seminary Center for Reformed Church Studies (CRCS) 17 Seminary Place, New Brunswick, NJ 08901 1-800-445-8267

The archives at the seminary are the RCA depository and cover the entire history of the oldest continuing Protestant denomination in North America. The CRCS was established in 2000.

New Netherland Project CEC 8th floor, Albany, NY 12230 518-474-6067 fax 518-474-5786

This facility primarily translates colonial Dutch records into English and publishes this material through a university press. The work is largely funded through governments but also requires private support. The translating team also publishes academic papers.

Roosevelt Study Center Abdij 9, Box 6001, 4330 LA Middelburg the Netherlands ph 01131-118-631.590

This Dutch facility has its headquarters in New York and focuses on the Dutch and U.S. relations which includes Dutch colonist and immigrant subject matter.

Windmill Archives P.O. Box 3006, Stn. LCD1, Langley, B.C. V3A 4R3 1-604-532-1733

The collection consists of a great number of newspaper clippings on the Dutch experience in North America, Dutch community periodicals (newspapers, denominational magazines and synod publications, yearbooks, club magazines and bulletins, etc.) and particularly material on Dutch immigration to Canada (promotional publications, books, passenger lists and photo bank) as well as a library of (anniversary) books published on the community. Some assistance may be offered to committed college and university students. 

Huguenot History Society 18 Brodhead Ave, New Paltz, NY 1561-1403

Among the early Dutch colonists in New Netherland were many refugees from Southern (Walloon) Netherlands and France although other Huguenots and their descendents arrived in North America via German principalities and England. 

Two more colleges are in the process of building up a collection on the Dutch experience in North America, Trinity College in Chicago, primarily on the Illinois Dutch, and Dordt College in Sioux Center. Their address are as follows:

Dordt College 498 Fourth Ave NE, Sioux Center, IA 51250-1697 712-722-6010

Trinity Christian College 6601 W College Dr., Palos Heights, IL 60463 708-597-3000

Two organizations that have published papers on the Dutch experience in North America are: Association for the Advancement of Dutch American Studies (AADAS) and the Canadian Association for the Advancement of Netherlandic Studies (CAANS). Both can be found on the Internet by a search for the acronyms.