The Dutch Immigrant Letter Collection includes a wide spectrum of Dutch immigrant experience-Protestant, Catholic, and secular-and it is the only major collection of its kind. To assemble the Immigrant Letter Collection the archives conducted four major manuscript collection campaigns in the Netherlands and the United States between 1976 and 1990. These efforts accumulated at least eight thousand items-letters, travel accounts, immigrant memoirs, and photographs.
Of the 4,970 letters gathered (1838-1958), 2,793 were American postings and 2,179 were from the Netherlands to the United States. Half of the letters from immigrants cluster between 1873 and 1893, accurately reflecting the numerical configuration of Dutch immigration. Moreover, immigration peaks in 1848-1857, 1867-1888, and 1892-1915 are followed a year or two later by peaks in correspondence.
Unfortunately we acquired no useful examples of two-way correspondence. Furthermore, the immigrant letters represent at best 0.0032 percent of an estimated 889,000 letters mailed from the United States to Holland between 1890 and 1930.
All names reflect the original spellings, so try variants spellings (i.e. ij / y); variant spacing (i.e. vanden / van den); and variants of v.d. names (i.e. van de / van den / van der).
The collection includes letters, diaries, travel accounts, memoirs, recollections, and journals. These sources provide a wide range of viewpoints and materials for discovering the spirit and character of the immigration experience. Herbert J. Brinks, curator of the Archives from 1972-1995, collected and used the letters in the research for the following books: Schrijf Spoedig Terug, 1978; Write Back Soon, 1986; and Dutch American Voices, 1995. Nearly all the material in this collection has been transcribed and translated. This is indicated for each item in a separate alphabetized guide, Dutch Immigrant Papers Guide, and on our web site: http://library.calvin.edu/guide/collections/hh/in_house_resources/immigrant_letters/dutch_letters. Additions continue.