New and Recent Books

Books listed here are ones written by members of the Van Raalte Institute, published since 1994. For a complete list, go to VRI Staff Publications, A Cumulative Report. These books may be purchased through the Hope-Geneva Bookstore at Hope College (1-800-946-4673 or email: ). Major credit cards are accepted. Books published by Eerdmans may be purchased at or through some local bookstores.

Elton J. Bruins and Karen G. Schakel, editors. Envisioning Hope College: Letters written by Albertus C. Van Raalte to Philip Phelps Jr., 1857 to 1875. Holland, MI: Van Raalte Press; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2011.

These ninety-four letters of Albertus C. Van Raalte, founder of the city of Holland, Michigan, to Philip Phelps Jr., who became the first president of Hope College, are significant for two reasons in particular. First, of all the publications about Van Raalte—beginning in 1893 with the first of five biographies—none reveals fully who the man really was, since Van Raalte’s words are rarely quoted. In these letters, Van Raalte’s voice is unscripted and clear. The reader can learn much about his character and personality from what he wrote to Phelps, his co-worker and friend. The letters reveal the high points in his life and the many low periods, when he felt overwhelmed with the task of raising money for Hope College. He was often quite ill while striving to bring his and Phelps’ vision of an institution of Christian higher education into existence. 
Second, these letters are deeply personal because they were written to his close friend and confidant. The extant letters of Van Raalte number in the hundreds, but few of his correspondents were as trusted as Phelps. Van Raalte’s dominant personality, as well as his drive to develop the Holland Colony that he founded in 1847, left little room for the development of close friendships. Phelps was part of Van Raalte’s inner circle, and due to their kinship and the common cause of Christian higher education, Van Raalte opened his mind and heart to an extent that he rarely did with others. These letters therefore reveal more of his personality and inner feelings than any other of his extensive body of writings.
The letters also include much discussion of the development of Holland, Michigan (the outgrowth of the Holland Colony) and the establishment of theological education in Holland. The depth of the Civil War struggle became personal for Van Raalte when two of his sons enlisted in this conflict. The Dutch Reformed Church in the East also figures prominently because Van Raalte and Phelps were constantly raising funds among those churches, particularly in New York and New Jersey. Finally, we become acquainted with Van Raalte’s faithful and long-suffering wife, Christina de Moen Van Raalte, who was often left raising their large family and taking care of their personal business when her husband was away for many weeks at a time raising funds for Hope College.

Hardcover: 520 + xxv pp.; retail price: $49


Jacob E. Nyenhuis, Suzanne M. Sinke, and Robert P. Swierenga, eds. Across Borders: Dutch Migration to North America and Australia. Holland, MI: Van Raalte Press, 2010.

The Association for the Advancement of Dutch-American Studies (AADAS) chose “across borders” as the theme for their 2009 biennial conference in part to reflect the literal passage across borders, which this meeting in Canada entailed for AADAS members from the United States. Yet “across borders” also embodied more figurative meanings, such as comparisons between generations, or the search for identity that meant replicating or replacing previous ideas and practices in a new setting or because of different circumstances. Separation also featured prominently in the theme of Christian institutions: churches, labor unions, and other groups. The ringing attention to religion found in previous AADAS conferences resonated even deeper in this case. In other ways, the conference echoed and amplified topics from the past. For three days, AADAS members shared their scholarship, insights, and stories. This volume is a compilation of papers presented at that conference.

Paperback: 269 + xxii pages; retail price: $22.50.


Peter Ester, Nella Kennedy, and Earl Wm. Kennedy, eds. The American Diary of Jacob Van Hinte. Historical Series of the Reformed Church in America, no. 69. Holland, MI: Van Raalte Press; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans/Reformed Church Press, 2010.

The Van Raalte Institute and Van Raalte Press are very pleased to present this valuable addition to the understanding of Dutch immigration to America. For decades, this diary of Jacob Van Hinte, author of the monumental Netherlanders in America, has been hidden in the archives of the Van Hinte family. Until now, it has been available only in Dutch.

Van Hinte’s diary is quite compressed, yet it is rich in insights and detail. We travel with him in our imagination from Rotterdam by ship to America, in and across America by all the means of transport available in 1921—steamboat, taxi cab, ferry boat, street car, subway, train, interurban railway, automobile, and paddle boat. We get his immediate response to the cities, towns, and villages that he visited—from New York to Chicago, from Grand Rapids and Holland, Michigan, to Pella and Orange City, Iowa, and all the scenery in between.

Paperback: 196 + xiv pages; retail price: $22.00

Call to Serve

Jacob E. Nyenhuis, Robert P. Swierenga, and Lauren M. Berka, eds.  Aunt Tena, Called to Serve: Journals and Letters of Tena A. Huizenga, Missionary Nurse to Nigeria, Historical Series of the Reformed Church in America, no. 63 (Grand Rapids:  Eerdmans/Reformed Church Press, 2009)

Focusing on her service in remote Lupwe, Nigeria, through the Christian Reformed Church from 1937 to 1954, this volume provides insights into the foreign-mission experience of long-time medical missionary Tena A. Huizenga.  It tells the story primarily through her correspondence with family and friends, her journals, and her published articles.  The 976-page book includes chapters by historian Harry Boonstra that provide biographical and historical context concerning Huizenga and her service as well as the Christian Reformed Church’s support of missions in Nigeria.
“This intensely human volume guides us through seventeen memorable years of Nigerian mission history,” said Eugene Rubingh, former executive secretary of Christian Reformed World Missions.  “Drawn from Tena Huizenga’s own letters, the events are sketched through the lens of joy and tears, of small victories and unimaginable obstacles.  Both candor and love transform mundane facts into a warm and lively account of a life poured out for God.”

Born in 1907, Tena Huizenga grew up in Dutch-American West Chicago.  She continued to work as a nurse after leaving the mission field for health reasons in 1954.  She died in 1978 at age seventy.

The book’s title reflects the Nigerians’ practice of calling all female missionaries “Aunt,” but the designation also applies more literally.  The book was commissioned by Huizenga’s nephew, Peter H. Huizenga of Oak Brook, Ill.  Peter H. Huizenga’s father, Petro (Pete), was Tena Huizenga’s younger brother, and was a regular correspondent during her mission years.  In fact, nearly 300 pages feature Petro Huizenga’s letters to his sister.
Petro Huizenga’s letters not only demonstrate the strength and importance of familial bonds across time and distance, but also provide insights into the character of life back in the Huizengas’ Chicagoland neighborhood.  Pete’s winsome descriptions and witty dialogue with his sister add a Chicago flavor to this book

Hardcover: 976 + xxxii pages, including maps and photographs.  Retail price: $49.00.


Tool for Understanding

James Hart Brumm, ed.  Tools for Understanding:  Essays in Honor of Donald J. Bruggink (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans/Reformed Church Press, 2009).

This book is a collection of twelve essays in honor of Donald J. Bruggink to celebrate the occasion of his eightieth birthday and to mark the publication of the sixtieth volume of the Historical Series of the Reformed Church in America, of which Bruggink serves as the general editor.  Contributors to the volume include Jacob E. Nyenhuis, Eugene P. Heideman, George Brown Jr., Mary L. Kansfield, Russell L. Gasero, Laurie Z. Baron, Norman J. Kansfield, John W. Coakley, Dennis N. Voskuil, J. Jeffery Tyler, Allan J. Janssen, James Hart Brumm, and I. John Hesselink.

“History as a tool for understanding” was a favorite phrase used by Bruggink when he was teaching classes in historical theology at Western Theological Seminary in Holland, Michigan.  That phrase is a reminder that history helps us understand the church, our churches, and the scriptures.  In this volume the essays are tools for understanding four areas of Bruggink’s life and ministry:  Western Seminary, where he spent significant time for half of his life; the study of history, a passion of his since Central College days; theological education, the primary vocation for most of his ministry; and the nature of God and the Church.  Architecture of worship spaces, a primary interest of Bruggink, is integral to an essay in the final section.
Bruggink’s pursuits and interests are wide and varied:  teacher, pastor, theologian, historian, liturgist, ecumenist, advocate for social justice, architect, and historical tour guide.  All of these subjects could be subsumed into one overriding pursuit—understanding his world and his God and helping others to understand.  It also is reflected in this book.

Hardcover: 352 + xlviii pages. Available through Faith Alive Christian Resources (1-800-333-8300 or www.faithaliveresources
.org, at Western Seminary’s bookstore (Sacred Page – 616-392-2072, ext.108), and at some local bookstores. Retail price: $32.50.


Robert P. Swierenga and William Van Appledorn, edsOld Wing Mission: Cultural Interchange as Chronicled by George and Arvilla Smith in Their Work with Chief Wakazoo's Ottawa Band on the West Michigan Frontier (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans/Reformed Church Press, 2008).

The story of the Ottawa Indians in West Michigan is told here primarily through the diaries and memoirs of George and Arvilla Smith, a Protestant missionary and his wife, who lived and raised their family among the Ottawa Indians. Memorandums and letters are also included, giving a fuller picture of the trials of frontier missionaries. The book begins with an introductory chapter on the history of Old Wing Mission.

The Smiths established their mission near modern-day Holland, Michigan, in the 1830s; their outpost was called the Old Wing Mission. The Smiths provided worship services, education for the children, and, in addition, communicated with the federal government on behalf of the Ottawa Indians. The diary and memorandum of George Smith cover the period 1838-49; Arvilla's diary begins and ends earlier, 1832-45. Also included in the book are Arvilla Smith's memoirs, published in the Grand Traverse Herald, Traverse City, Michigan, in 1892; an essay on the "Life and Work of the Late Rev. George N. Smith: A Pioneer Missionary" by Etta Smith Wilson, his daughter; and relevant correspondence in the records of the Michigan Superintendent of Indian Affairs, 1839-50.

Hardcover: 684 + xx pages; retail price: $49.00.


Robert P. Swierenga, Jacob E. Nyenhuis, and Nella Kennedy, edsDutch-American Arts and Letters in Historical Perspective (Holland, MI: Van Raalte Press, 2008).

The Association for the Advancement of Dutch-American Studies (AADAS) devoted its sixteenth biennial conference to the exploration of the arts in the formation of a Dutch-American subculture. The results of this event, which took place 7-9 June 2007 on the Hope College campus, are presented in this volume.

The first two essays are about visual artists Cornelis Zwaan and John Vander Burgh and show how they contributed to the preservation of Dutch icons in the United States that remain important symbols of a Dutch American cultural identity. Part two contains essays on Dutch American writers: Meindert De Jong, Arnold Mulder, Geerhardus Vos, Henry Van Andel, and three mystery writers (Robert van Gulik, Janwillem van de Wetering, and Nicolas Freeling), plus an essay on Yankee Dutch. The writings of Dutch immigrant Andries Wormser, a pamphlet written by Lourens Van Bergeijk in defense of Hendrik P. Scholte, the reading culture of Dutch American Reformed Pietism, and the letters of an immigrant family—the Van Den Burgh family—are examined in part three. Part four concentrates on journalists (press censorship in De Hollander, Dutch American connections in De Volksvriend, and the influence of Paul de Kruif, a medical journalist), and finally, in part five, imagery and pageantry in Dutch American communities are explored.

The result of “this colorful palette of essays” (as Hans Krabbendam says in his introduction to the book) shows that "although developing the arts was not a priority of the pioneers, they did develop, thanks to a well-developed network of communication" and were important in the "process of selecting and preserving elements of the past for future use in shaping cultural and ethnic identities on both sides of the Atlantic."

Paperback: 234 + xx pages; retail price: $22.50.


Jacob E. Nyenhuis, ed. A Goodly Heritage: Essays in Honor of the Reverend Dr. Elton J. Bruins at Eighty (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans/Reformed Church Press, 2007).

A Goodly Heritage is a collection of essays celebrating the career of Dr. Elton J. Bruins, who is retired from the Hope College faculty (1966-1992), where he was the Evert C. and Hattie E. Blekkink Professor of Religion, Chairperson of the Department, and Dean for Arts and Humanities; he also is retired from directing the A. C. Van Raalte Institute (1994-2002). The festschrift was presented to Dr. Bruins in honor of his eightieth birthday as he prepares to retire from his active involvement with the institute as a researcher.

The fifteen essays in the volume fall into three categories, all reflecting different aspects of Bruins’s career. The first ten concern church history and theology, the next two focus on different aspects of the life of Rev. A. C. Van Raalte, and the final three deal with local history. The topics range from religious conflict in the nineteenth century to the Civil War, to Hope College history, to the effort to create the Joint Archives of Holland, to recent ideological conflict in the field of Reformation history, to contemporary issues in the Reformed Church of America.

The volume was planned and edited by Dr. Jacob E. Nyenhuis, who is director of the Van Raalte Institute and professor of classics and provost, emeritus, at Hope College. He also contributed an essay to the book. Other contributors to the book are: Harry Boonstra, Timothy L. Brown, Donald J. Bruggink, Eugene Heideman, I. John Hesselink, Jeanne M. Jacobson, Lynn Winkels Japinga, Earl Wm. Kennedy, James C. Kennedy, Gregg Mast, Robert P. Swierenga, J. Jeffery Tyler, Dennis N. Voskuil, and Larry J. Wagenaar. All are friends of Bruins. Some are former students, some are religion colleagues, and some were brought to the institute by him.

Hardcover: 412 + lii pages; retail price: $35.00.

Robert P. Swierenga, Paul Fessler, and Hubert R. Krygsma, edsDutch Immigrants on the Plains(Holland, MI: Joint Archives of Holland, 2006).

Dutch Immigrants on the Plains is a collection of essays selected from papers given at the Fifteenth Biennial Conference of the Association for the Advancement of Dutch-American Studies (AADAS) held on the campus of Dordt College in Sioux Center, Iowa, in June 2005.  AADAS was founded in 1979 and its purpose is “to encourage research and to nurture a continuing interest in the history, life, and culture of the Dutch in North America.”  The 2005 conference, and this volume, had as its focus the encounter of Dutch immigrants with the American Plains, particularly with its landscape and initially with its Native American inhabitants.  Migration and transition, the stability of Dutch identity and institutions, the importance of regional identity, the ways the Dutch migrants forged communities on the Plains, and the centrality of faith and the church to Dutch immigrant community are some of the themes addressed in the various chapters.

Paperback: 219 + xi pages; retail price: $19.95


Robert P. Swierenga, Elim: Chicago’s Christian School and Life Training Center for the Disabled (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2005).

Elim tells of the astounding rise of the school from seven students taught in a church basement to the hundreds currently served on a thirty-four-acre campus in Palos Heights, Illinois. While the official records provide the view from the top, the book keeps a focus on the students and their achievements. Elim Christian Schools (now Elim Christian Services) was founded in 1948 by the Dutch Reformed community of Chicago. It is the only Reformed residential school in North America for special needs children. Its workshop, Oasis Enterprises, provides occupational training and meaningful employment for nearly two hundred adults who have aged out of school. In the past fifty-seven years, this unique institution has been an oasis in the desert of disability for more than five thousand persons ages three to sixty-five.

Hardcover:  347 + xxvi pages; retail price: $31.00


James C. Kennedy and Caroline J. Simon, Can Hope Endure?: A Historical Case Study in Christian Higher Education (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2005).

This book—Can Hope Endure?—focuses on Hope College’s struggle to avoid losing its religious moorings as many church-founded colleges have done and to find a middle way between secularization and withdrawal from mainstream academic and American culture. The early chapters examine the effect of Dutch immigrant culture on the founding and early history of Hope College. The book is a thoughtful, instructive study written by two professors who have witnessed firsthand many of Hope’s struggles to retain its identity and purpose. Enriched by the dual vision provided by a professional historian and professional philosopher, the book participates in the current debate about the nature of higher education in America and the place of religion in the academy.

Paperback: 249 + xvi; retail price: $28.00


Robert P. Swierenga, ed. Iowa Letters: Dutch Immigrants on the American Frontier (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2004).

Iowa Letters is one of the most important, known collections of immigrant letters relating to the Midwestern frontier.  More than one hundred are published here for the first time. The others were first published in the Dutch language in Amsterdamse Emigranten (1976), edited by Johan Stellingwerff. All are now translated into English by Walter Lagerwey. The letters were written 1840-1870 by religious dissenters from the Netherlanders Reformed Church between family members who remained in the homeland and those who colonized Iowa in the mid-nineteenth century. They provide unique and fascinating insights into the experiences of Dutch immigrants on the North American prairie. 

Hardcover: 701 + xxxii pages; retail price: $49.00.


Donald J. Bruggink and Kim Baker, By Grace Alone (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2004).

By Grace Alone is the story of the Reformed Church in America, beginning in Europe with a brief history of the church out of which the Reformation grew. The scene then shifts to New Amsterdam in 1628, where a miniscule church survived the English conquest and eventually grew into the Reformed Church in America. The story is followed into the twenty-first century, shedding light along the way on why and how the church grew, its conflicts, its strengths and weaknesses, the development of its schools, and its incredible missionary endeavors at home and abroad. In addition to the sequential history of the church's development there are vignettes of people involved in events small and great. Timelines and many illustrations are also included. 

Paperback: 222 + ix pages; retail price: $29.00.


Elton J. Bruins, Karen G. Schakel, Sara Fredrickson Simmons, and Marie N. Zingle, Albertus and Christina: The Van Raalte Family, Home and Roots (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2004).

This volume records for the first time a fully documented family history and genealogy of the primary leader of Dutch immigration to Western Michigan, Albertus C. Van Raalte, and his wife Christina de Moen.  Drawing on previously compiled genealogical information, archival records, and family letters and photographs, the authors worked diligently to "set the record straight" and to provide a document future historians and genealogists can build on. The book includes brief biographical sketches and an account of what happened to the Van Raalte papers and homestead and traces what happened to their seven children and their descendants.

Hardcover: 250 + xviii pages; retail price: $25.00.


Jacob E. Nyenhuis, Myth and the Creative Process: Michael Ayrton and the Myth of Daedalus, the Maze Maker (Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 2003).

Michael Ayrton, British sculptor, painter, author, filmmaker, and maze designer, is truly a tribute to the enduring power of Greek myth.  He was inspired by the story of the archetypal craftsman Daedalus-father of Icarus and maker of the labyrinth that imprisoned the Minotaur-and produced over eight hundred works that in turn enhance the myth's significance. Highlighting the interaction between myth and artist, word and image, Nyenhuis in this book presents a catalogue of these works, introducing and helping readers to understand the richness and power of Ayrton's work and the creative process.

Hardcover: 345 + xx pages; retail price: $47.95.


Robert P. Swierenga, Dutch Chicago: A History of the Hollanders in the Windy City (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2002).

An in-depth exploration of the 150-year history of the Dutch in the Chicago area by an author who grew up in a Dutch neighborhood on Chicago's west side.  There are 250,000 ethnic Dutch in Chicagoland.  This book creates their ethnic history. The hardcover Dutch Chicago presents a comprehensive history of the Dutch churches, schools, and communities of greater Chicagoland since the 1849s.  The volume includes 250 photographs and illustrations and detailed appendices.

Hardcover: 908 + xx pages; retail price: $65.00


Robert P. Swierenga and Elton J. Bruins, Family Quarrels in the Dutch Reformed Church in the Nineteenth Century(Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1999).

Family Quarrels focuses on the religious history of the Dutch Calvinist emigration from the Netherlands to West Michigan and the church struggles of the early settlers.  It explores the reasons that prompted Dutch religious separatists to emigrate to the United States founding settlements like Holland and takes a close look at major events in their history such as the Holland Classis joining the Reformed Protestant Dutch Church in the U.S., the 1857 secession that produced the Christian Reformed Church, and the Masonic controversy that led to more secession in 1882.  The book deals with the division and strife within the Dutch Reformed Church, but it grew out of a spirit of reconciliation and an ardent desire for unity.

Paperback: 150 + xviii pages; retail price: $12.95.


Jacob E. Nyenhuis and Jeanne Jacobson, A Dream Fulfilled: The Van Raalte Sculpture in Centennial Park (Holland, MI: Hope College, 1997).

A 122-page illustrated volume that details the history of the sculpture of the Reverend Albertus C. Van Raalte, created in honor of the sesquicentennial of the city that he founded in 1847. Included are photographs of the bronze-casting process, of the installation of the sculpture, and of Centennial Park.  Appendices include a biography of Van Raalte, the ship's passenger list for the Southerner on which Van Raalte and his followers sailed in September 1846 from Rotterdam to New York, and a history of Centennial Park, including the names of all area members of the armed services who died in wartime from the Civil War to the Vietnam War.

Hardcover: 122 + v pages; retail price: $9.95


Jeanne Jacobson, Elton J. Bruins, and Larry J. Wagenaar.  Albertus C. Van Raalte: Dutch Leader and American Patriot (Holland, MI: Hope College, 1996).

A 251-page illustrated volume that celebrates the life of the founder of Holland, Michigan, and Hope College, the Reverend Albertus C. Van Raalte, and presents his vision for the future as it has been realized 150 years later. 

Hardcover: 251 + v pages; retail price: $14.95.