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Robert P. Swierenga -- Brief Biography

Robert P. Swierenga was born in Chicago in 1935, educated in private Christian schools, Calvin College (B.A. 1957), Northwestern University (M.A. 1957), and the State University of Iowa (Ph.D. 1965). He was Knighted by Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands in the Order of the Netherlands Lion on June 9, 2000. Calvin College named him a Distinguished Alumnus in 2003.Professionally, he was awarded two Fulbright Fellowships at the University of Leiden, in 1976 and again in 1985, where he studied original sources and key secondary works relating to Dutch immigration to North America.

Swierenga taught social studies in the Pella (Iowa) Christian High School (1958-61), and then became a college and university professor--at Calvin College (1961-62, 1965-68), Kent State University (1968-96), and the Van Raalte Institute of Hope College (1996-present). His specialty was nineteenth century American history and immigration history. In this research, he was among the first historians to use computer-aided methodologies and statistical analyses of serial records. His textbook, Quantification in American History: Theory and Research (1976), was widely used in graduate history seminars.

Swierenga has authored ten books, (co)edited nineteen books, and 150 articles in scholarly journals. His latest books are: Faithful Witness: A Sesquicentennial History of Central Avenue Christian Reformed Church, 1865-2015 (Van Raalte Press, 2015) and Park Township Centennial History, Ottawa County, Michigan, 1915-2015: Hollandís Water Playground (Van Raalte Press, 2015). Other major books are: Holland Michigan: From Dutch Colony to Dynamic City, which was published in three volums by Wm B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. and Van Raaltje Press (2014); Old Wing Mission: Cultural Exchange as Chronicled by George and Arvilla Smith in Their Work with Chief Wakazoo's Ottawa Band on the West Michigan Frontier (with William Van Appledorn, 2008); Elim: A Chicago Christian School and Life Learning Center for the Disabled (2005); Dutch Chicago: A History of the Hollanders in the Windy City (2002); Faith and Family: Dutch Immigration and Settlement in the United States, 1820-1920 (with Elton Bruins), (2002); Family Quarrels in the Dutch Reformed Churches of the Nineteenth Century (1999, reprinted 2014); The Forerunners: Dutch Jewry in the North American Diaspora(1994); Acres for Cents: Delinquent Tax Auctions in Frontier Iowa (1976); and Pioneers and Profits: Land Speculation on the Iowa Frontier (1968).

Major edited books include: Dutch Americans and War: United States and Abroad (with Nella Kennedy and Lisa Zylstra) (2014); Diverse Destinies: Dutch Kolonies in Wisconsin and the East (with Nella Kennedy and Mary Risseeuw); Across Borders: Dutch Immigration to North America and Australia (with Jacob E. Nyenhuis and Suzanne Sinke) (2010); Dutch Immigrants on the Plains (with Herbert Krygsman and Paul Fessler); Dutch American Arts and Letters in Historical Perspective (with Jacob Nyenhuis and Nella Kennedy) (2008); The Dutch in Urban America (with Donald Sinnema and Hans Krabbendam) (2004); Iowa Letters: Dutch Immigration on the American Frontier (by Johan Stelllingwerff) (2006); For Food and Faith: Dutch Immigration to Western Michigan, 1846-1960 (2000); Belief and Behavior: Essays in the New Religious History (with Philip R. VanderMeer) (1991); Netherlanders in America, by Jacob Van Hinte (1928), translated by Adriaan de Wit (1985); The Dutch in America: Immigration, Settlement and Cultural Change (1985); History and Ecology: Studies of the Grassland (by James C. Malin) (1984); A Bilateral Bicentennial: A History of Dutch-American Relations (1982) (with J.W. Scholte Nordholt).

Swierenga's compilations of Dutch immigrant records are available on CD-ROM from Family Tree Maker's Family Archives CD# 269, "Immigration Records: Dutch in America, 1880s." These include Dutch Households in U.S. Population Censuses: 1850, 1860, 1870: An Alphabetical Listing by Family Heads and Singles (1987); Dutch Immigrants in U.S. Ship Passenger Manifests, 1820-1880: An Alphabetical Listing by Household Heads and Independent Persons (1983); and Dutch Emigrants to the United States, South Africa, South America, and Southwest Asia, 1835-1880: An Alphabetical Listing by Household Heads and Independent Persons (1983).

Revised June 2015