Dutch immigration to the Midwest in the 19th century will be emphasized in "Dutch in America," an evening course being offered at Hope College during the spring semester.
The instructor will be Dr. Robert P. Swierenga, a
member of the Hope faculty and staff who has spent more than
three decades studying Dutch immigration history. The
course will run on Thursdays from 7 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.
beginning on January 27 and continuing through April 6, and
is designed for a general audience.
"I'm gearing the course for the public," Swierenga
said. "I'm intending to basically lecture with time for
discussion. There'll be some recommended reading but
nothing required. There won't be any tests."
Although he has spent his career studying,
lecturing on and writing about Dutch immigration history,
the course will be a first for him. It marks the first time
that he has taught a full course dedicated exclusively to
The 19th century wave of Dutch immigrants will be
emphasized in "Dutch in America," but the course will tell
the story of Dutch immigration and settlement in America
from the founding of the New Netherlands colony to post-
World War II immigration. Weekly topics will include the
New Netherlands; causes of the 19th century migration; the
migration of A.C. Van Raalte and Hendrik P. Scholte;
planting the Midwest colonies; religious struggles; work and
politics; and Dutch Jewish emigration.
Swierenga is a senior research fellow with the
college's A.C. Van Raalte Institute and an adjunct professor
of history at Hope. He has been at Hope since 1996,
following his retirement from the history faculty of Kent
State University, where he had taught since 1968.
He has written or edited a dozen books, ranging
from the English translation of Jacob Van Hinte's
"Netherlanders in America: A Study of Emigration and
Settlement in the 19th and 20th Centuries in the United
States of America," to "The Forerunners: Dutch Jewry in the
North American Diaspora," to "Family Quarrels in the Dutch
Reformed Churches in the Nineteenth Century" (co-authored
with Dr. Elton Bruins of the Hope faculty). He has written
more than 100 journal articles and made more than 100
Swierenga holds his bachelor's degree from Calvin
College, his master's from Northwestern University and his
doctorate from the University of Iowa.
Students may enroll in the two-credit "Dutch in
America," which is designated as History 200, either on an
audit basis for a $75 "sitter's" fee or for college credit
(there will be additional course requirements for those
taking the class for credit). Additional information may be
obtained by calling the college's Registrar's Office at