Dutch Chicago: A History of the Hollanders in the Windy City

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Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, Nov 7, 2002 - History - 908 pages
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Now at least 250,000 strong, the Dutch in greater Chicago have lived for 150 years below the radar screens of historians and the general public. Here their story is told for the first time. In "Dutch Chicago" Robert Swierenga offers a colorful, comprehensive history of the Dutch Americans who have made their home in the Windy City since the mid-1800s.

The original Chicago Dutch were a polyglot lot from all social strata, regions, and religions of the Netherlands. Three-quarters were Calvinists; the rest included Catholics, Lutherans, Unitarians, Socialists, Jews, and the nominally churched. Whereas these latter Dutch groups assimilated into the American culture around them, the Dutch Reformed settled into a few distinct enclaves -- the Old West Side, Englewood, and Roseland and South Holland -- where they stuck together, building an institutional infrastructure of churches, schools, societies, and shops that enabled them to live from cradle to grave within their own communities.

Focusing largely but not exclusively on the Reformed group of Dutch folks in Chicago, Swierenga recounts how their strong entrepreneurial spirit and isolationist streak played out over time. Mostly of rural origins in the northern Netherlands, these Hollanders in Chicago liked to work with horses and go into business for themselves. Picking up ashes and garbage, jobs that Americans despised, spelled opportunity for the Dutch, and they came to monopolize the garbage industry. Their independence in business reflected the privacy they craved in their religious and educational life. Church services held in the Dutch language kept outsiders at bay, as did a comprehensive system of private elementary andsecondary schools intended to inculcate youngsters with the Dutch Reformed theological and cultural heritage. Not until the world wars did the forces of Americanization finally break down the walls, and the Dutch passed into the mainstream. Only in their churches today, now entirely English speaking, does the Dutch cultural memory still linger.

"Dutch Chicago" is the first serious work on its subject, and it promises to be the definitive history. Swierenga's lively narrative, replete with historical detail and anecdotes, is accompanied by more than 250 photographs and illustrations. Valuable appendixes list Dutch-owned garbage and cartage companies in greater Chicago since 1880 as well as Reformed churches and schools. This book will be enjoyed by readers with Dutch roots as well as by anyone interested in America's rich ethnic diversity.


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Dutch Chicago Takes Shape
Like Mother Like Daughter Dutch Calvinism in America
Guided by God Is Guided Well The Founding Years
Pulpit and Pew in the Heyday of the Groninger Hoek
White Flight Reformed Churches Seek the Suburbs
Churches of Roseland The Frisian Settlement
Feeders of the Church Christian Schools
A Covenanted Community Church Social Life
Buying Dutch Stores and Services
Help a Hollander Ethnic Politics
The Other Hollanders Jews and Catholics
The Dutch Reformed as a Covenanted Community
Chicago Dutch Garbage Companies
Chicago Dutch Cartage Companies
Churches Schools and Missions
Societies and Clubs

From Womb to Tomb Mutual Aid Societies and Cemeteries
The Elites Dutch American Social Clubs
Plowing in Hope Truck Farming and Agricultural Colonization
Business Is Picking Up Garbage and Cartage
Church Membership 18531978

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Page 4 - The city is situated on both sides of the Chicago River, a sluggish slimy stream, too lazy to clean itself, and on both sides of its north and south branches, upon a level piece of ground, half dry and half wet, resembling a salt marsh, and contained a population of 20,000.
Page 4 - To render the streets and side walks passable, they were covered with deal boards from house to house, the boards resting upon cross sills of heavy timber. This kind of track is called "the plank road." Under these planks the water was standing on the surface over three-fourths of the city, and as the sewers from the houses were emptied under them, a frightful odour was emitted in summer, causing fevers and other diseases, foreign to the climate.

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About the author (2002)

Robert P. Swierenga is Albertus C. Van Raalte Research Professor of History at the A. C. Van Raalte Institute, Hope College, Holland, Michigan. A specialist in Dutch immigration history, Swierenga was knighted in 2000 by Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands.

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