Recent Posts

Dutch Thanksgiving? (And 400 Years of Contested History)

Dutch Thanksgiving? (And 400 Years of Contested History)

Thanksgiving is, in one sense, my favorite holiday, whether celebrated in early October in Canada or late November in the United States. For years, my wife and I have gotten together with friends here in Grand Rapids and enjoyed a nice meal and a great […]

Navajo Voices and CRC Missions

Navajo Voices and CRC Missions

Edward Becenti (1882-1929) was a Navajo who converted to Christianity and worked with the Christian Reformed Church (CRC) as a missionary. We don’t have many of Becenti’s own words on record. But we know that his was a fluent, compelling voice. I first came across […]

Churches and Migrations in Chicago

Churches and Migrations in Chicago

For the past half year, I’ve been doing re-photography posts on Heritage Hall’s Facebook site. Usually it is two pictures, one from the deeper past and a more recent image, sometimes a photograph I’ve taken. Some of the posts include a story about the congregation, […]

The Strange Story of the Professor and the Dutch Chair

The Strange Story of the Professor and the Dutch Chair

During the early spring of 1911, leading Dutch Reformed folk in Chicago and Michigan were fighting about a professor. The issue was not, as you might think, unorthodox theology or dangerous ideas. It was who should be the new professor of Dutch history, language, and […]

J.C. Morgan and Failure to Listen to Native Voices

J.C. Morgan and Failure to Listen to Native Voices

Individuals often don’t fit the categories we use to identify groups of people. Jacob Casimera “J.C.” Morgan (1879-1950), a Navajo (Diné) leader, is a good example. Was he “traditional” or “progressive” in response to white efforts to assimilate Native peoples? Neither and both, perhaps. Morgan […]

When Canada was  a CRC Mission Field

When Canada was a CRC Mission Field

When most people think of missions, they don’t think of Canada. In the 1920s, Rev. Henry Beets did. Beets was the director of missions for the Christian Reformed Church (CRC). He “traveled the globe several times to inspect missions and advice missionaries in Africa, China, […]

Suffrage – The Ongoing Revolution and the Church – II

Suffrage – The Ongoing Revolution and the Church – II

Last week’s Origins Online blog post explored views expressed in the Christian Reformed Church (CRC) about the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Women winning the right to vote was itself a revolution. It undermined the idea that men represented their families in public life. […]

Suffrage and the Christian Reformed Church – I

Suffrage and the Christian Reformed Church – I

It has been a century since the United States ratified and certified the 19th Amendment to the Constitution–in August 1920. The 19th Amendment was in one sense the culmination of more than a century of activism, perhaps most famously associated with the “Declaration of Sentiments” […]

A Land of Good Success and Personal Happiness?

A Land of Good Success and Personal Happiness?

The mythology of the frontier West is that it was a place to escape to and start over. Nicholas Zandstra’s story seems to fit that mythology. Columbus, Montana, gave him his chance. In 1916, he wanted to escape work in Chicago factories. His one true […]

A Great Grandfather’s Memories of Immigrating – Part III

A Great Grandfather’s Memories of Immigrating – Part III

The previous two blog posts started a story told by Dan Poortenga about his great grandfather Peter Oudshoorn. Dan first wrote this story as a paper in a Calvin College history course in the early 1990s. He interviewed his great grandfather and set his story […]