An all-day conference at Hope College on Dutch-American history will also celebrate the career of the "dean" of studies in the field.
The event, "The Dutch American Experience: A
Celebration of the Career of Robert P. Swierenga," will be
held at Hope on Friday, June 9, in the Maas Center
The conference will feature a series of
presentations suited to a general audience by scholars from
throughout the United States and the Netherlands. The
proceedings will run from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., with
additional options including an 8 a.m. breakfast, a lunch
and a 7 p.m. tribute banquet.
The event recognizes Swierenga for his extensive
contributions in the decades he has spent conducting
research, publishing and speaking in the field of Dutch
American studies. It is timed to coincide with a personal
milestone: he turns 65 on Saturday, June 10.
"Robert Swierenga is the most published scholar in
the field of Dutch American studies that we have today,"
said conference co-coordinator Larry J. Wagenaar, who is
director of the Joint Archives of Holland and was one of
Swierenga's graduate students at Kent State University in
Ohio. "His extensive contributions have often led
colleagues to call him the 'Dean of Dutch American
"Professor Hans Krabbendam and I began talking
about a way in which we could honor Dr. Swierenga in 1998,
realizing that his 65th birthday would be an excellent time
to gather colleagues and former students together to
celebrate all he has done both personally and
professionally," he said. "Since that time we have been
contacting many people to ask them to be a part of our
Swierenga will deliver the event's keynote
address, "The Third Generation and Dutch American Studies,
1960s-1990s," reflecting on how study in the field as
changed during his career.
The conference will also feature 10 presentations
within four general categories: "Immigrant Ideology,"
"Mobility," "Dutch American Religion" and "Portrait
Gallery." Topics range from "Emigration as Protest?
Opinions About the Relation Between Church and State as a
Factor in the Dutch Emigration Movement," to "America's Most
Popular Dutchman: Hendrik Willem van Loon" and "A Frisian
in the American City: Pieter Ypes Groustra Family in
In addition, the event's opening remarks and the
dinner will feature reflections on Swierenga's work in the
Swierenga has been at Hope since 1996, serving as
a senior research fellow with the college's A.C. Van Raalte
Institute and as an adjunct professor of history. He had
previously been a member of the history faculty at Kent
State, where he served from 1968 until retiring in 1996. He
has written or edited more than a dozen books, and has
written numerous journal articles and lectured widely on
issues related to the Dutch in America.
He holds his bachelor's degree from Calvin
College, where he was an assistant professor from 1965 to
1968, and his master's from Northwestern University and his
doctorate from the University of Iowa.
"The Dutch American Experience" is co-sponsored by
the Joint Archives of Holland, the A.C. Van Raalte Institute
and the Roosevelt Study Center.
Located at Hope and open to the general public for
research, the Joint Archives of Holland houses the archival
collections of the Holland Museum, Western Theological
Seminary and Hope as well as others that contract for
archival services. Also housed at Hope, the A.C. Van Raalte
Institute conducts research and study in the field of Dutch
American studies, particularly the mid-19th century
immigration to West Michigan under the leadership of A.C.
Van Raalte. Located in Middleburg in the Netherlands, the
Roosevelt Study Center is a research institute focusing on
20th century American history and European-American
Admission to the conference is $35 for an
individual or couple, with an additional charge for the
meals. For an additional fee, those attending from out of
town may also arrange to stay on-campus.
Additional information may be obtained by calling
the Joint Archives of Holland at (616) 395-7798.