posted June 16, 2006

Grant Supports Van Raalte Institute Program

A grant from the Netherland-America Foundation of New York City to the A.C. Van Raalte Institute at Hope College is supporting the institute's on-going commitment to sponsoring scholars conducting research on area history.

The $10,000 grant from the NAF is underwriting the "NAF Visiting Research Fellowship Program" at the institute for the next three years, starting this fall. Representatives of the NAF presented a check for the first year during a visit to the institute on Wednesday, May 10, during the city's Tulip Time Festival.

"I'm very pleased with receiving this grant because it enables us to enhance our visiting research fellows program, doubling the size of the research fellowship," said Dr. Jacob E. Nyenhuis, who is director of the Van Raalte Institute. "By labeling this person the 'NAF Visiting Research Fellow' we add prestige to the fellowship and help to promote the NAF as well."

The A.C. Van Raalte Institute has underwritten the work of a research fellow annually since 2003. The visiting fellows' projects run in addition to the research conducted by scholars who are affiliated with the institute on a continuing basis.

Dr. Jan Peter Verhave of the Department of Medical Microbiology at the University of Nijmegen in the Netherlands has been chosen to work with the institute as the NAF Visiting Research Fellow and will be studying "Health and Disease among Dutch Immigrants in the 19th Century." He is an epidemiologist who has published extensively on malaria and other tropical diseases and on the history of medicine as well as on church history and on folk art of the Netherlands.

"To have a microbiologist at a research institution that focuses on history is itself a new development for us and an intriguing one," Nyenhuis said. "We think it will be interesting to have somebody looking at documents from our community through the lens of a scientific researcher with a historical interest."

The A.C. Van Raalte Institute, located in the Theil Research Center at 9 E. 10th St., specializes in scholarly research and writing on immigration and the contributions of the Dutch and their descendants in the United States, but is also dedicated to the study of the history of all the people who have comprised the community of Holland throughout its history.

Established in January 1994, the institute has a part-time staff of 13, including Nyenhuis, two research professors, four senior research fellows, an editorial assistant/office manager, three translators and two student research assistants.

The Netherland-America Foundation seeks to strengthen the bonds of friendship and appreciation between the two nations through exchange in the arts, culture, education, business and policy-making. The foundation's mission is supported by donations from individual and corporate donors to provide grants for dance, chamber music, jazz, historic preservation and architecture, visiting professorships and educational exchange.

The foundation has a strong local connection. Its executive director, Joan Kuyper, is the wife of L. William Kuyper, a 1961 Hope graduate who was originally from Holland. L. William Kuyper, the son of Dr. Lester J. and Helen Kuyper, is a French hornist with the New York Philharmonic.