Larry J. Wagenaar, director of the Joint Archives of Holland, concluded his second and final term as president of the Historical Society of Michigan at the annual State History Conference, held in Midland on Saturday-Sunday, Sept. 19-20. The society is Michigan's oldest cultural organization.
In his farewell address, Wagenaar emphasized the
value of the people committed to Michigan's unique history.
"The Historical Society of Michigan is the main membership
organization committed to advancing the cause of our state's
heritage" he remarked. "We need to mobilize our members and
communities to better understand their heritage as well as
how they fit into the greater tale of Michigan's past."
Wagenaar also paid tribute to a committed board of
trustees, which stayed fully engaged throughout the past
several years. "After a few years of challenge, the society
is now on firm ground and is well positioned to make an even
greater impact in advancing Michigan history," he said.
During his term in office, the Historical Society
of Michigan reversed a trend of budget losses, posting two
consecutive years of a budget surpluses and membership
gains. The society also made major strides through an
expanded Michigan History Day, refinanced longterm debt to
ensure financial stability, worked to improve the historical
journal "Michigan Historical Review" and attended to a
number of important capital projects.
Wagenaar is an associate professor at Hope College
and director of the Joint Archives of Holland, a position he
has held for 10 years. His other professional leadership
positions have included serving as president of the Michigan
Archival Association and the Association for the Advancement
of Dutch American Studies (AADAS), service on a number of
boards and committees, and being volunteer director of the
Holland Area Historical Society. His most recent
publications include "A.C. Van Raalte: Dutch Leader and
American Patriot" with Jeanne Jacobson and Elton Bruins, and
the AADAS conference proceedings "The Sesquicentennial of
Dutch Immigration: 150 Years of Ethnic Heritage."
Wagenaar is a graduate of Hope College and Kent
State University. He has served on the board of trustees of
the Historical Society of Michigan since 1992.
Tawny Ryan Nelb of Midland is the society's new
president, and the society's executive director is Hugh
Gurney. The Historical Society of Michigan was founded in