The Wives, and Lives, of Early Dutch Pastors

nov 8

7:00 PM

Grand Rapids Public Library - Main Branch - 111 Library St NE, Grand Rapids, MI 49503    map

POSTPONED:  Greater Grand Rapids Women’s History Council’s program, “Paths Less Taken: Grand Rapids Women and the Egyptian Revival in Cemetery Architecture” by Thomas R. Dilley planned for Thursday, November 8, 2018 will be rescheduled on a future date. Stay tuned for details about this program grew out of Dilley’s excellent book “The Art of Memory: Historic Cemeteries of Grand Rapids, Michigan.

REPLACEMENT: Read on about Janet Sjaarda Sheeres’ serious, yet light-hearted presentation on yet another set of unheralded women community builders: clergy wives. Based on her book “For Better For Worse. Stories of the Wives of Early Pastors of the Christian Reformed Church” in West Michigan will offer a fresh glimpse of early Grand Rapids history.

The Wives, and Lives, of Early Dutch Pastors
by Janet Sjaarda Sheeres

Ryerson Auditorium, Grand Rapids Public Library
Downtown Grand Rapids, Michigan

FREE and Open to the Public
No Ticket Necessary

Grand Rapids, take note! Not only do early women citizens have a history, but the stories of early pastors’ wives are also riveting. When Janet Sjaarda Sheeres was editing a 700-page tome on early synod minutes of the Christian Reformed Church (1857-1880), she realized that she had waded into an all-male world, where women’s concerns were seldom considered and their stories never recorded.

A popular speaker, Sheeres has been in the business of making seemingly ordinary women remarkable. Their stories virtually always sidelined in early historical records, she brings them to life for us. From lists of births, Sheeres has illustrated the lives of early Dutch midwives; from shipping indexes, created pictures of single women immigrants crossing the Atlantic on their own. Now she has turned her attention to a group of women whom no one else has thought to consider. The biographies of early male ministers have been well documented. Rescuing their wives from obscurity in her new book, “For Better For Worse. Stories of the Wives of Early Pastors of the Christian Reformed Church”, Sheeres proves they were important community builders in their own right and highlights their living conditions and the challenges they faced. Reclaiming the stories of wives of early clergy, Sheeres’ slides will also make visible aspects of their lives and give us another angle on nineteenth-century area history.

After her program Sheeres’ books will be available for sale as will an early 2018 special issue of Origins magazine focusing on women’s history! Be inspired to expand her project into the broader community!

Co-sponsored by the Greater Grand Rapids Women’s History Council, Grand Rapids Historical Society and Grand Rapids Public Library

Janet Sjaarda Sheeres Bio
Born in the Netherlands, Sheeres speaks fluent Dutch and is the author of four books and over 70 articles in national and international journals on Dutch emigration/immigration history. Among her many service positions, she has been president of the Association for the Advancement of Dutch American Studies, chair of the Christian Reformed Church Historical Committee, and is the current editor of Origins, the historical magazine of Calvin College’s Heritage Hall Archives

Greater Grand Rapids Women’s History Council
During 2018 the Greater Grand Rapids Women’s History Council has celebrated thirty years of existence recruiting and training researchers, encouraging donations to local archives, distributing bibliographies on area women’s history, digitizing materials for broader dissemination, and developing creative programming to spread information about the early accomplishments of female scientists, politicians, journalists, even reformed courtesans. Five years ago at a quarter century, it took stock and published a brief summary history, which you can find on its website:

Join the GGRWHC on November 8, 2018, after the program when we will offer materials and conversation describing our broader efforts to locate and share local women’s history.

“Absent from existing histories, these Dutch immigrant women lived lives marked by hardship and loss, labor and fortitude, birth and death. By focusing on the experience of women, Sheeres adds another dimension to our understanding of the history of the Christian Reformed Church—one in which masculine ambition, human foibles, congregational squabbles, and the sacrificial labor of women take center stage and challenge us to rethink the origins of the Christian Reformed Church in America.”
— Kristin Kobes Du Mez, History Department, Calvin College & GGRWHC Board Member

“These fascinating, assiduously researched profiles of the first ten Christian Reformed ministers' wives provide new insights on the denomination's early existence, its tight social networks, both internally and with the Reformed Church in America, and the conditions these women met and sacrificially endured. Their stories need to be told and deserve our sober appreciation.”
— James A. DeJong, Calvin Theological Seminary



Mailing Address
Grand Rapids Historical Society
c/o Grand Rapids Public Library

111 Library St NE FL 4
Grand Rapids MI 49503-3268

(616) 988-5497 GRPL

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