Recent Posts

Windmills, Wooden Shoes, and Politics (Origins Vol. 37, No. 2)

Windmills, Wooden Shoes, and Politics (Origins Vol. 37, No. 2)

The fall issue of Origins: Historical Magazine of The Archives (vol. 38, no. 2) is now available in print. It focuses on Dutch Reformed immigrants, their descendants, and politics. Included, below, in this blog post is a link to a free essay from the fall […]

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 […]

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, […]