Recent Posts

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 […]

A Great Grandfather’s Memories of Immigrating – Part II

A Great Grandfather’s Memories of Immigrating – Part II

Our previous blog post started the story of Peter Oudshoorn emigrating from the Netherlands to the United States in 1904, as told by his great grandson, Dan Poortenga. Dan first wrote about Oudshoorn in an assignment for a Calvin College history course in the early […]

A Great Grandfather’s Memories of Immigrating

A Great Grandfather’s Memories of Immigrating

This week’s blog post is based on a paper by Dan Poortenga, who graduated from Calvin College in 1992. In a history course on the Netherlands with Herb Brinks, then curator of Heritage Hall, Dan wrote an essay about his great grandfather, Peter Oudshoorn, who […]

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 […]

Preserving Our COVID-19 Stories

Preserving Our COVID-19 Stories

“The influenza played havoc with everything run to schedule in our village and vicinity. Churches, Schools, Movies, even Poolrooms were promptly closed in the beginning of the dreaded disease, even before it had really reached us, and by the time the Flu caught us in […]

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 […]

The Weight of History

The Weight of History

The peaceful protest against police brutality Saturday evening in Grand Rapids, and the vandalism and looting that followed over the night of May 30-31, reflected the histories of race, poverty, policing, segregation, and riots in the city. At the national level, “race riots” have left […]

Play Ball? Sports, Religion, and Immigrants

Play Ball? Sports, Religion, and Immigrants

My title — “Play ball?” — really should have two question marks. I picked this topic because I’ve been watching to see whether North Americans will get major league baseball this Covid-19 summer. That’s one question. The other is whether Christian athletes should play on […]