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A Message from the Director

This Annual Report of the A. C. Van Raalte Institute is being distributed as we approach the end of the first decade of the Institute’s existence. It illustrates the continuing impact of the endowment created by the Huizenga family’s founding gift. Members of the Institute each provide a report on their scholarly activities, as usual, and there is the customary bibliography of publications by all of us. New initiatives are also introduced with this year’s report.

One of the major new publications sponsored by the Institute is Dr. Robert Swierenga’s Dutch Chicago: A History of the Hollanders in the Windy City, which has generated significant sales and attracted many very favorable reviews, both in the U.S. and in the Netherlands. My own book, Myth and the Creative Process: Michael Ayrton and the Myth of Daedalus, the Maze Maker, also has been favorably reviewed in both the U.S. and the U.K.

Dr. James C. Kennedy, one of our very active research fellows, has taken a leave from the Institute. A highly regarded historian of the Netherlands, he has accepted appointment to a chair at the Free University of Amsterdam. We will miss his active engagement with us in the work of the Institute, but we wish him all the best as he assumes leadership at the Free University in the field of modern European history. His father, Dr. Earl William Kennedy (Professor Emeritus at Northwestern College), has been working at the Institute for the past few years as an affiliated scholar. He has been assiduously researching and extensively annotating the minutes of the Classis of Holland of the Reformed Church in America during its formative years, 1848-1876. In May, the Dutch-American Historical Commission (DAHC) agreed to support the publication of this very substantial work. The goal is to have this project completed within the next three years, so that it can be published around the time of the Sesquicentennial of the Christian Reformed Church of North America, which was established in 1857 when several congregations withdrew from the Classis of Holland. I have been asked to chair a sub-committee of the DAHC to develop a proposal for funding this ambitious project.

During the past year, we have held several staff retreats to review and revise our mission statement, to assess current programs, and to develop a vision for the future. As a result, we have expanded the Institute’s program and set new goals for ourselves. Included in this expansion is a Visiting Research Fellows Program, which is described more fully in a separate section. Our first two Visiting Research Fellows—Dr. Lynn Winkels Japinga and Dr. J. L. “Hans” Krabbendam—are already in residence, actively pursuing their respective research agenda. With this report, we also invite application for fellowships for the next academic year.

All of us continue to draw upon the extensive files built up over the past several decades by our founding director, Dr. Elton J. Bruins. We are indeed grateful that he remains among us as an active researcher, working, among other projects, on the Phelps-Van Raalte correspondence. It is hard to imagine a better organized and more extensive scholarly resource than that which is found in the hundreds of files and books that line the walls of his corner office. Always gracious, Elton is a ready source of information and advice. Elsewhere in this report you will read an update on the forthcoming Van Raalte Genealogy coauthored by Dr. Bruins and Karen Schakel, along with a Van Raalte descendant, Sara Simmons, and a genealogist, Marie Zingle. Karen continues to serve most ably as both Office Manager and Editorial Assistant. In the latter capacity, she has devoted extensive time and energy to the Van Raalte Genealogy, for which she is currently very busy reading page proofs. We look forward to the publication later this year of this major new contribution to the understanding of the Van Raalte heritage.

The reports on the activities of the individual members contained in this report illustrate the breadth and depth of scholarship that is supported so generously by the ongoing funding from the Huizenga endowment established a decade ago. We are deeply grateful to Peter H. Huizenga, to his family, and to his mother, the late Elizabeth Huizenga, for their vision and generosity. We dedicate our tenth Annual Report to them.

Jacob E. Nyenhuis
A. C. Van Raalte Institute