Hope College is co-hosting the 143rd Annual State History Conference organized by the Historical Society of Michigan, running Friday-Sunday, Sept. 22-24, at the Haworth Inn and Conference Center.

Approximately 275 teachers, scholars and other lovers of history are anticipated for the event, with much of this year’s focus on aspects of West Michigan’s history, in keeping with the conference’s Holland setting.  Highlights will include four keynote addresses (“Jazz ‘Em Up Michigan,” “Flexing West Michigan’s Wartime Muscle: The Other Half of Democracy’s Arsenal,” “Welkom to West Michigan” and “Fatal Crossing: The Disappearance of Flight 2501”), 12 breakout sessions, four workshops, four tours; the State History Awards Banquet; exhibitors; and networking opportunities.

The conference is being co-hosted by the college’s A.C. Van Raalte Institute, Van Raalte Press and Joint Archives of Holland, along with the Holland Museum.  Co-sponsors include Meijer and the Edgar and Elsa Prince Foundation, in addition to the A.C. Van Raalte Institute, Van Raalte Press, Joint Archives of Holland and Holland Museum.

Multiple Hope faculty and staff will be among the speakers.

Dr. Fred Johnson, associate professor of history, will deliver “Flexing West Michigan’s Wartime Muscle: The Other Half of Democracy’s Arsenal” as Saturday’s opening keynote address.  Johnson’s areas of expertise include 19th century U.S. history, specifically the Civil War; 20th century U.S. history; the U.S. military; and Africa.  An award-winning speaker, he is the author of multiple books and articles.

Dr. Robert Swierenga of the A.C. Van Raalte Institute will present “Welkom to West Michigan,” exploring Holland’s past and present, as Saturday’s second keynote address.  On Friday, he will also conduct a pre-conference tour (at capacity) of Dutch-American sites in West Michigan.  Swierenga, who is the Albertus C. Van Raalte Research Professor at the Van Raalte Institute and a historian by training, is the author of more than two-dozen books, several focused on aspects of the Dutch-American experience, including the three-volume comprehensive history “Holland Michigan:  From Dutch Colony to Dynamic City.”

Dr. Jacob Nyenhuis, who is interim director of the A.C. Van Raalte Institute, will present “150 years of History and Hope” as one of the breakout sessions.  Nyenhuis, who is editing and co-authoring a book on the college’s history, is a past director of the Van Raalte Institute, editor-in-chief of Van Raalte Press, and provost emeritus and professor of classics emeritus at Hope.  He is the editor or author of multiple books and articles, many focused on area history.

Geoffrey Reynolds, who is the Mary Riepma Ross Director of the Joint Archives of Holland, will present “Crafting an Industry: Holland’s Boat-Builders” as one of the breakout sessions.  Reynolds, who also holds an appointment as a professor at Hope, has pursued a scholarly interest in Michigan’s boat-building industry for several years, and among other publications and presentations is author of the forthcoming book “From Craft to Industry: The Boat Builders of Holland, Michigan.”

The conference’s 15-member planning committee has been co-chaired by Jacob Nyenhuis and Larry Wagenaar, who is executive director of the Historical Society of Michigan and from 1988 to 2001 served as founding director of the Joint Archives of Holland.  In addition to Nyenhuis, members of the committee from Hope include the Rev. Dr. Dennis Voskuil, who prior to becoming Hope’s president this summer was director of the A.C. Van Raalte Institute; Dr. Elton Bruins, who was founding director of the A.C. Van Raalte Institute and is a professor emeritus of religion at Hope; and Geoffrey Reynolds.

More information about the conference, including a complete schedule and the cost of registration, is available at here.  Advance registration has closed and registration will only be available at the door.

The Historical Society of Michigan is the state’s oldest cultural organization, founded in 1828 by territorial governor Lewis Cass and explorer Henry Schoolcraft.  A nongovernmental nonprofit, the society focuses on publications, conferences, education, awards and recognition programming, and support for local history organizations to preserve and promote Michigan’s rich history.  More about the Historical Society of Michigan.

Established in 1994, the Van Raalte Institute specializes in scholarly research and writing on immigration and the contributions of the Dutch and their descendants in the United States.  The institute is also dedicated to the study of the history of all the people who have comprised the community of Holland throughout its history.  In 2007, then-director Dr. Nyenhuis established The Van Raalte Press as a vehicle to publish the publications developed by the Institute.  The Van Raalte Press is also the official publisher of papers presented at the biennial conferences of the Association for the Advancement of Dutch-American Studies.  More about the Van Raalte Institute.

The Joint Archives of Holland contains materials about Hope and Western Theological Seminary, in addition to preserving information concerning other aspects of local history.  The archives, which opened in October 1988, also assists other area organizations with their materials. Joint Archives of Holland information