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Festschrift: from fest,
meaning festival or celebration, and schrift, meaning writing.
A volume of writing, prepared as a tribute to a scholar, consisting
Over the years Dr. Robert P. Swierenga has published and edited numerous works of Dutch-American studies that are, as Larry Wagenaar says, "a treasure trove of information." During his years at Kent State University, he taught and guided many students who are now, in their own right, notable in the wide field of history, including Hans Krabbendam of the Roosevelt Study Center in the Netherlands, whose doctoral studies were supervised by Dr. Swierenga, and Wagenaar, who has for many years headed the Joint Archives of Holland. Working together in transatlantic collaboration, these former students organized a conference, "The Dutch American Experience: A Celebration of the Career of Robert P. Swierenga," which would honor him with a festschrift.
"The actual conference emerged as a 'cover' for the book we were working on," according to Wagenaar. "As we brought together scholars to participate in this volume, it was clear we needed both an event to present it and, since all of the contributors know Robert Swierenga, a way to hide our activities. The conference gave us great cover to 'hide in plain sight.' It also allowed us to get our honoree as a keynote speaker without tipping our hand!"
Following a welcome by Hope College Provost Jacob E. Nyenhuis, the first conference address, "Robert P. Swierenga, Historian and Teacher: An Appreciation," was given by Dr. Harry Stout of Yale University. "Few, if any, contemporary American historians," Stout said, "have achieved the breadth of Robert P. Swierenga's scholarly oeuvre. In a career spanning thirty-five years and still very much in high gear, Professor Swierenga has published definitive works of scholarship in such diverse fields as econometrics, the history of agriculture and the frontier, immigration historiography and Dutch immigration in particular, quantitative methods and social scientific theory, and American religious history."
Conference presentations were given in four sessions: "Immigrant Ideology," at which the speakers were Hans Krabbendam and Janel M. Curry; "Mobility," at which Suzanne Sinke, Yda Schreuder, Donald Luidens, and Roger Nemeth spoke; "Dutch-American Religion," where the speakers were Richard Harms, James Bratt, and E. William Kennedy; and "Portrait Gallery," where Cornelis van Minnen spoke on "America's Most Popular Dutchman: Hendrik Willem van Loon," and Annemieke Galema presented her research on Dutch emigrant Pieter Ypes Groustra amd his descendants over the years 1881-1946. Each session corresponded to a section of the festschrift volume, which also includes an introductory section, "Robert P. Swierenga and the Dutch-American Experience."
The Dutch-American Experience: Essays in Honor of Robert P. Swierenga
is presented to Dr. Swierenga. Dr. Swierenga, on the right, holds a copy
of the book, edited by Hans Krabbendam, left, and Larry Wagenaar, center.