[Back to Formatted Version]

Johanna Timmer Collection, 1925-1939

Collection Overview

Title: Johanna Timmer Collection, 1925-1939

ID: COLL/257

Creator: Timmer, Johanna (1901-1978)

Extent: 0.5 Cubic Feet. More info below.

Arrangement: Folder level description


Christian school teacher and first dean of women at Calvin College. The collection includes reports, correspondence, notebooks, articles, clippings, and pamphlets used while dean of women.

Biographical Note

Johanna Timmer was born in Graafschap, MI in 1901. Growing up Timmer received her education in a two-room country school and she attended a high school that was a three-mile walk through a woods in Holland, Michigan.  When Timmer graduated high school, she began to teach at a Christian School in Paterson, New Jersey. After a year of teaching, Timmer returned to western Michigan to attend Calvin College. Timmer was one of the first women to earn a B.A. degree from Calvin.  She then taught a year at Grand Rapids Christian School. At the age of 26 she was appointed the first Dean of Women at Calvin College. Although being the first Dean of Women was a prestigious honor, Timmer had her own hesitations before accepting the position.  Timmer had always envisioned herself working in the mission field, a dream of hers since she was a young girl. However, with much thought and prayer, she accepted the position.

Timmer would spend the next twelve years at Calvin as Dean of Women. Some of her male peers mocked her and some of her own male students did not take her seriously. However, many of her students and peers found her to be an excellent English teacher.  Even though she was a successful teacher at Calvin, Timmer still felt restless.  Her dream of serving the mission field still lingered inside of her.  Although she did not pursue mission work herself, Timmer opened the Reformed Bible Institute in 1940. The Reformed Bible Institute was a school dedicated to training its pupils for the mission field. Almost single-handedly, Timmer ran the RBI.  With the success of her institution, she was invited to help set-up a similar model in the Netherlands. Timmer would eventually become the principle of the Ripon Christian School in California in 1951. After many requests from the Orthodox Presbyterian Church, she helped establish the first Christian High School, known as the Philadelphia Montgomery High School.

Timmer finally retired in 1963. She continued to stay busy after retirement by teaching Bible to women societies in Holland, Michigan. In 1978 Johanna Timmer died at the age of 76 at Holland Hospital.

Box and Folder Listing

Series 1: Items Relating to the Dean of Women Position --- 1925-1939
Box 1
Folder 1: Correspondence; and paper, "The Employment of Women"
Folder 2: Photograph: Miss J. Timmer with Mrs. John T. Holwerda
Folder 3: Calvin College Dean of Women --- 1928-1929
Folder 4: Conduct
Folder 5: Problems
Folder 6: College Women
Folder 7: Amusement Problems --- 1925-1937
Folder 8: Presidential Reports --- 1926-1939
Folder 9: Announcements
Folder 10: Counseling
Folder 11: Constitutions of Societies
Folder 12: Christ and the College
Folder 13: Graduates
Folder 14: Correspondence --- 1934-1935
Folder 15: Faculty
Folder 16: School Spirit
Folder 17: Religion
Folder 18: Landladies - correspondence --- 1929-1931
Folder 19: Personal work
Folder 20: Health and Hygiene --- 1929-1939
Folder 21: The Position
Folder 22: Group Discussion
Folder 23: Personal [RESTRICTED]
Access Restriction: RESTRICTED
Folder 24: Great Missionaries to Africa inscribed to Rev. & Mrs. Carl Toeset --- 1946