Tag Archives: Dutch America


7 Jul

The windmill in Orange City, Iowa’s Windmill Park.

It’s a phrase frequently employed in media coverage of Dutch Americans. It appears on kitsch t-shirts and coffee mugs. Even Dutch King Willem Alexander said it a speech in Michigan in 2015.

“There’s an old expression here,” chuckles Gleaves Whitney, director of the Hauenstein Center for Presidential Studies at Grand Valley State University in Grand Rapids, “If you ain’t Dutch, you ain’t much.” [1]

From the Netherlands, a journalist reports: “If you ain’t Dutch, you ain’t much”, they still always say in west Michigan.[2]

The phrase is now well-known and well-worn. It strikes many as a form of chauvinism more than pride, and it’s got the right alliteration and meter to remain a classic. But it is vague enough to be useful in a variety of contexts, and so it can mean different things to different people.

But just how old is this phrase, and where did it come from? I’ve spent almost twenty years studying and writing about the Dutch in the United States, and I can’t remember ever encountering the phrase “If you ain’t Dutch, you ain’t much” in any archival documents more than twenty years old.

So begins historian Michael Douma’s investigative essay on a phrase that, as he notes, I have heard here in Orange City. If you are interested in Michael’s full account, read his entire blog post here.

Holland America & Rotterdam: From Rotterdam, Many Left for a New Life

25 Apr

ROTTERDAM, the Netherlands — They came from Russia, Poland, Germany and Ukraine, bearing tickets bought in the field offices of the Holland America Line passenger ships. They were fleeing the pogroms, escaping tyrants, running from war or just seeking a better life. About two million people made their way to Rotterdam harbor during the peak years from 1880 to 1920 to begin a trans-Atlantic journey that would often end at Ellis Island.

The stories of these migrants inspired the former Rijksmuseum director, Wim Pijbes, and the group he leads, Stichting Droom en Daad (Foundation Dream and Do), to transform a crumbling warehouse on the Rotterdam piers into a kind of Dutch sister-site to Ellis Island. The nonprofit organization he directs, founded in 2016 to support arts in Rotterdam, acquired a city permit in March to turn the old Holland America Line warehouse into an institution that will commemorate those journeys.

So begins Nina Siegal’s New York Times story on the Holland America Line site in Rotterdam. You may read the rest of the post here.

Shootout at the OK Corral – Oct 26, 1881

26 Oct

The Tombstone Epitaph, founded by J.P. Clum, covered the OK Corral shootout.

Shootout at the OK Corral on Oct 26, 1881. Wyatt Earp and his brothers were at one time residents of the Dutch colony of Pella, Iowa. While not from Pella, Dutch American John P. Clum in 1881 was the Mayor of Tombstone. While the Earps were not religiously affiliated, Clum was. He was raised in his native New York in the Reformed Church in America. Once in the West, since he could find no Reformed congregations, he became Presbyterian. He and Wyatt Earp kept in touch afterward even as they went their separate ways.

Learn more about what happened at the OK Corral here: Shootout at the OK Corral – Oct 26, 1881 – HISTORY.com.

Learn more about John P. Clum in my article on him, of which you can find a pdf here.

Church revival? More liberals are filling Protestant pews.

15 Apr

Since the rise of Donald Trump, liberal-leaning churches have reported surges in attendance and newfound energy in the pews. Will it prove a temporary ‘Trump bump’ or a lasting change after decades of decline in mainline Protestant churches? This Christian Science Monitor story features a Reformed Church in America congregation: Church revival? More liberals are filling Protestant pews. – CSMonitor.com

Only 30 Dutch Wooden Shoe Makers Remain

6 Apr

The traditional trade is in trouble in the Netherlands: Only 30 Dutch Wooden Shoe Makers Remain | Smart News | Smithsonian

Dispelling Darkness: A Christian Paradox

17 Dec

Historian Kristin Du Mez offers some wise words for us as Christmas nears: Dispelling Darkness: A Christian Paradox – Anxious Bench

New Orange and Anthony Colve–the Dutch New Netherlands You Have Never Heard Of

27 Oct

In the last days of Dutch control over Manhattan, a demagogic dictator seized the city, promising to keep unwanted foreigners at bay. The first step? Build a wall.

Source: The Man Who Vowed to Make New Amsterdam Great Again – Narratively

The Dutch Moment

3 Oct

Here’s a fascinating interview by John Fea with Willem Klooster, Professor and Chair of the Department of History at Clark University, about his new book, The Dutch Moment: War, Trade, and Settlement in the Seventeenth-Century Atlantic World: The Author’s Corner with Willem Klooster | the way of improvement leads home

The Most Beautiful Tulip in History Cost as Much as a House 

29 Apr

Here in Orange City, some tulips are blooming. Moreover, the Tulip Festival is less than a month away.

So, now is the time to remind ourselves about the bulb. During the Netherlands’ tulip bubble, the Semper Augustus was among the rarest and most valuable: The Most Beautiful Tulip in History Cost as Much as a House | Atlas Obscura

The Hollander Fires

12 Jan

Pastor Steve Mathonnet-VanderWell reprises a little-known state-of-affairs in Iowa during World War I–and connects it to some perspectives loudly presented today:

• Clannish, insular immigrants who refuse to assimilate • Large families and achieving kids that quickly overshadow other residents • Loyalty given to foreign, even adversarial, governments • Houses of worship where foreign languages are spoken • Dominating clergy who browbeat their people • Houses of worship set afire by arsonists It is time for us to awaken to the

Source: The Hollander Fires – THE TWELVE

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