Category Dutch Americans

Yankee Dutch (Dutch American Language in the Midwest)

Yankee Dutch can refer to a number of hybrid English-Dutch varieties. I’m particularly interested in the Midwestern variety at the beginning of the 20th century. One form, Grand Rapids Yankee Dutch, was popularized through  Dirk Nieland’s ‘N Fonnie Bisnis.  Nieland’s Yankee Dutch was always meant to be comical, an exaggeration of how Dutch Americans spoke. […]

Renze and Auke Douma

The search database on Delpher.nl continues to be a great source for the history of Dutch Americans. The database includes the Sioux Center Nieuwsblad of Iowa.  For years, the Nieuwsblad had correspondents in Dutch-American hamlets who gave monthly reports.  One of these correspondents lived in Randolph, Wisconsin, where my great-grandfather Renze Douma, and his brother […]

Dutch Newspaper Research – Sheboygan Nieuwsbode

A few months back, I discovered that Delpher.nl has an incredibly large collection of digital, searchable Dutch-language newspapers online. Unlike some Dutch websites and archives, Delpher doesn’t require any registration or payment. The website is in Dutch, and it takes a while to figure out all of the advanced search features. But once you have […]

Betsy DeVos, Modern Education Debates, and the Misuse of Dutch American History

On July 14-15, 2019, the Association for the Advancement of Dutch American Studies (AADAS) will meet at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan, for it’s bi-annual conference. This year’s theme is the history of Dutch American education. My abstract submission for the conference: In January, 2017, articles in Politico and Mother Jones established a narrative […]

Remembering Gerlof Homan

I remember Gerlof Homan as a standby at Dutch American history conferences.  I probably met him for the first time in Holland, Michigan in 2004, or in Sioux Center, Iowa, in 2006.  I remember some of his presentations, especially his narrative style and his concern for individuals in history. He was the founder of “Peace […]

Emotional 18th century letters

New York, 1761.  Jacob Ten Broek writes a letter to his brother in New Jersey to inform him that their mother has died. It is the hand of a farmer, no punctuation, some awkward spelling, sometimes indicating how Dutch was pronounced in 18th century New York. 1761, April 8 Waerde broeder dese tot bekent makinge […]

“The Most Conservative Americans”?

  An article in the The Economist titled “Why are Dutch-Americans so different from the Dutch?”  lumps together all Dutch Americans, by which it means a few Michigan politicians and the residents of the city of Holland, Michigan, to explain why they are such backward conservatives.  The article’s subtitle betrays the game the author wants […]

A Doctor of History Fixes Broken Stories

I generally try to avoid using the title “Dr.” instead of “Mr.” because I don’t want to be called upon in an emergency to have to save someone’s life. I can imagine it now:  the captain’s voice comes over the speaker system: “Is there a doctor on the plane?”  When no one comes forward, the […]

Albertus Van Raalte’s church history – Podcast Interview

On Friday, I was interviewed for 50 minutes for the Research on Religion podcast, run by Tony Gill, a professor of Political Science at the University of Washington. The topic of our discussion was the history of the Dutch immigrant leader Albertus Van Raalte and his church history manuscript that I re-discovered in the archives […]

Dutch New York Slavery and Pinkster

    I wrote a review of Jeroen DeWulf’s, The Pinkster King and the King of Congo: The Forgotten History of America’s Dutch-Owned Slaves (Jackson, Miss.: University of Mississippi Press, 2017) for BMGN, the top history journal in the Netherlands. BMGN is short for Bijdragen en Mededelingen betreffende de Geschiedenis der Nederlands. Of course. I […]