West Michigan

Architecture and Philosophy on Calvin’s Campus

Architecture and Philosophy on Calvin’s Campus

This blog post summarizes, excerpts, and links to a story done by Chimes, the student newspaper at Calvin University. The Chimes story is based on a summer research project done by student researchers Gabby Freshly and Natalie Sytsma and supervised by art history professor Craig […]

The Rivals – The Origins of Basketball at Calvin

The Rivals – The Origins of Basketball at Calvin

While researching the origins of the Calvin-Hope men’s basketball rivalry, I was intrigued by references to a group of Calvin students around 1920 who played basketball under the name “The Rivals.” Who were these guys? Who were they rivals for (if anyone)? And was the […]

Dutch Heritage – From a Novel to an Archive II

Dutch Heritage – From a Novel to an Archive II

The previous blog post by John Meyer told the story of his growing interest in Dutch American history, culture, and language. This post continues his story, focusing on his work on the Van Raalte collections of Heritage Hall. A Dutch pastor, Van Raalte led the […]

Dutch Heritage – From a Novel to an Archive

Dutch Heritage – From a Novel to an Archive

You never know where a story is going to take you. One that I read as a child led me to a digitization project in the Heritage Hall Archives at Calvin University. Now I am working on the collections associated with Albertus C. Van Raalte, […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 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 […]

When a Church Building Becomes an Event Venue

When a Church Building Becomes an Event Venue

I’ve long been interested in what happens to church buildings. In the past couple of weeks I’ve been thinking about this topic again, as I’ve “rephotographed” several Christian Reformed Church (CRC) buildings on the West Side of Grand Rapids. This post includes pictures of these […]

Muck Farms and Dutch Immigrants

Muck Farms and Dutch Immigrants

The Dutch know muck. And they know how to grow vegetables and flowers in it. At least that was my experience growing up. “Muck farms” refers to agriculture in areas where wetlands were drained and the “muck” turned into productive “garden farms,” typically producing vegetables […]