Book Examines Dutch Immigration and
Experience in the United States
Posted November 20, 2000
HOLLAND -- The many aspects of the Dutch immigrant
experience that historian Robert Swierenga has examined
during the past three decades are brought together in his
"Faith and Family: Dutch Immigration and
Settlement in the United States, 1820-1920," was published
earlier this year by Holmes & Meier Publishers Inc. of New
York City. The book studies the immigrants' migration to
the United States and a variety of dimensions of Dutch-
American life in the U.S.
"It's a summary of all my research over the
years," said Swierenga, who is a senior research fellow with
the A.C. Van Raalte Institute at Hope College and an adjunct
professor of history at Hope. "This is the culmination--the
big picture of the immigration."
The book developed from many scholarly articles by
Swierenga that were previously published in journals in the
United States and the Netherlands. In addition to being
collected for the volume, the original articles have also
been modified to present a unified narrative.
"Faith and Family" features four general sections:
immigration patterns, religion, work and politics, and
statistics and sources. The book's 12 chapters cover topics
ranging from the conditions in the Netherlands during the
period covered; to the routes and methods used to cross the
Atlantic; to the social factors in the 1857 Dutch Reformed
Schism; to the religious life of Dutch Jewish immigrants; to
the vote by the Dutch immigrants of Pella, Iowa, during the
1860 Lincoln election.
In his preface, Swierenga notes that his
longstanding interest in the Dutch immigration to the United
States grew in part from his own family history. He grew up
in a Dutch neighborhood on Chicago's West Side. In a nod to
his own past, the circa 1910 jacket photo features his
grandfather and great uncle with teams of horses hauling
limestone slabs bound for the Lake Michigan breakwaters.
Swierenga has been at Hope since 1996. 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.
On Friday, June 9, Swierenga was named by Queen
Beatrix a "Knight in the Order of the Netherlands Lion" for
his many contributions to Dutch-American scholarship. The
knighthood was conferred during an all-day Dutch-American
history conference held at Hope in his honor. The
conference also featured the debut of the book "The Dutch
American Experience: Essays in Honor of Robert P.
Swierenga 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.
"Faith and Family" is available in hardcover for
$45. Copies are available at the college's Hope-Geneva
Bookstore and at the Joint Archives of Holland.