Christian Reformed Church in North America

Christian Reformed Veterans of World War II

Christian Reformed Veterans of World War II

“Christianity isn’t passive–it’s active,” said a WWII veteran in 1945, recalling the lessons he learned during the war. Over 16 million Americans served in the United States Armed Forces during WWII. In 1991 the Christian Reformed Church conducted a survey of veterans and their experiences. […]

Navajo Missions and Glass Slides

Navajo Missions and Glass Slides

Heritage Hall has several small collections of glass slides, sometimes called “magic lantern” slides. A couple of the collections seem to be the product of traveling in Europe, the traveler buying the slides (perhaps for use in a classroom) rather than photographing sites himself or […]

Tragedy and an Immigrant Voice — Willem de Lange

Tragedy and an Immigrant Voice — Willem de Lange

Boys racing homemade bobsleds down the Bridge Street Hill in Grand Rapids hit Willem Hendrik de Lange in January 1874. “On the evening of this accident,” De Lange’s father-in-law reported, “he left our house in good spirits.” Shortly after, six to eight big boys on […]

Life- and World- View for Young Calvinists

Life- and World- View for Young Calvinists

The Reformed tradition has a reputation in Christian circles for being very serious about ideas, especially doctrine, but also Christian philosophy and thought generally. I remember, as a teenager, Calvinists sometimes being described as the “frozen chosen.” And I remember being delighted in my early […]

Dutch Immigrants and the Alamosa Disaster in Colorado

Dutch Immigrants and the Alamosa Disaster in Colorado

On November 30, 1892, on a train from Hoboken, NJ, to Alamosa, CO, Marinus Aalbers glanced at his wife and children sitting across from him in their seats. They had left the Netherlands 23 days ago and expected to arrive at their last stop in […]

Origins Stories in the CRC, Then and Now

Origins Stories in the CRC, Then and Now

Origins stories have a “mythic” function. By “myth” I don’t mean “bad history” because the facts are wrong or made up. I mean stories that people tell to explain who they are, where they come from, and why they matter. Stories about identity. We all […]

Harold Botts, Community Church, and the Detroit Riots of 1967

Harold Botts, Community Church, and the Detroit Riots of 1967

Reverend Harold Botts sensed a call to start a church in the African American community of Detroit in the early 1960s. He followed it and decided to serve a population that recently had been displaced by “urban renewal.” He had no idea that his church […]

A Home for Dutch Sailors and Immigrants in Hoboken, NJ

A Home for Dutch Sailors and Immigrants in Hoboken, NJ

Last week, Calvin University got word that alumnus and long time librarian Conrad Bult had passed away. Conrad was a periodicals and reference librarian and a historian, and he was much loved in Hekman Library, Heritage Hall, and the history department. This morning I was […]

Training Teachers

Training Teachers

I don’t train teachers, at least not in the way the education department and the history and social studies education majors do. But this week I’ve been thinking about training teachers. I’m teaching the capstone course in the history major, and history education and social […]

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 […]