Student Author(s)

Victoria Henry

Faculty Mentor(s)

Drs. Marc Baer and Steven VanderVeen

Document Type


Event Date



Holland, Michigan was founded in 1847 by Dr. Albertus Van Raalte, who also founded a Dutch Reformed Church congregation. Dr. Van Raalte and these immigrants came to the area in the hopes of securing religious freedom from the Dutch Reformed state church in the Netherlands. The community faced many hardships in the first fifty years of existence, including a devastating fire in 1871 and a split in the Dutch Reformed Church in 1882, but Holland prospered and thriving institutions, such as Hope College and Pillar Church, grew out of the population and continue to exist today. The prosperity of the community in the first fifty years would not have been accomplished without the help of nine influential leaders. This project focuses on the lasting influence of nine leaders from the first fifty years of Holland’s existence: Dr. Albertus Van Raalte, Philip Phelps Jr., Isaac Cappon, Edward J. Harrington, Teunis Keppel, Gerrit J. Diekema, Arend Visscher, Christina Van Raalte Gilmore, and Henry D. Post. Each one of these nine Holland community members had a lasting impact on the institutions and society of Holland that have continued to the current day.


This research was supported by the Center for Faithful Leadership and a History Department Pagenkopf grant.