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Raalte’s Faithful Chronicler
It has been a joy this past year, having been relieved of administrative work as director, to be able to devote myself to my research projects. My major project was, and continues to be, annotating the ninety-five letters written by Dr. Albertus C. Van Raalte, founder of Holland and the Holland Academy, to Dr. Philip Phelps Jr., the first president of Hope College.
The letters are
dated from 1857 to 1875 and contain a wealth of information about the
early years of Hope College, the Reformed Church in America, and life
in Holland, Michigan. Annotation is time consuming, but I hope to finish
the first draft this academic year. I continue to search for documents
to add to my Van Raalte files. This past year I inventoried at least
one hundred more so that my files now contain over 1,850 copies of
documents written by Van Raalte or relating to him. Nella Kennedy,
a translator at the Institute, devotes the majority of her time to
translating the documents in Dutch.
Dr. William Kennedy continues the very labor intensive work of editing and annotating the minutes of the Classis of Holland 1858 to 1876. We hope in time to publish his work to make it readily available to others. The minutes for these years are valuable to a basic understanding of the religious history of the Holland Colony and of the Dutch colonies in Illinois and Wisconsin in the mid-nineteenth century. Among the many minor projects I am involved in on a day-to-day basis is the continual addition of newspaper clippings to the files of the Institute for in-house research. Both the Holland Sentinel and the Grand Rapids Press often publish articles related to Holland history or local history. In addition, I have assisted others in their historical research—Rev. Michael de Vries and Dr. Harry Boonstra for their history of the Pillar Christian Reformed Church from its founding in 1847 to 1897 and Dr. James Kennedy and Dr. Carol Simon for their religious history of Hope College.
It is a pleasure to be a part of the Van Raalte Institute, which will celebrate its tenth anniversary January 2004.