Dutch-American immigrant newspapers
1.The Sheboygan Nieuwsbode (1848-1861) (also digitally searchable via Krantenbank Zeeland)
2.Het Oosten (1917-1920, 1934-36)
3.De Grondwet (1871 – 1938) (missing 1860-1871)
4.De Volksstem 1890-1919
5.De Volksvriend 1874-1950
6.Onze Toekomst 1920-1953
7.The Pella Gazette (1855-1860)
8.The Utah Nederlander (1914-1935)
9.The Zeeland Record (1893-1980)
Nrs 1-6 are digitally available at Delpher.
Dutch-language newspapers in the United States 1849-1959
After 1845, mass emigration from the Netherlands to the United States of America occurred. Agricultural workers from the Dutch clay areas left the country and settled in villages and cities at the East Coast and in the Midwest of the US. Like other Western-European immigrant groups, the Dutch published their own newspapers for more than a century. Through these weekly Dutch publications the editors served the commercial, political, and religious interests of their communities.
Out of the fifty titles that are known, six weekly magazines are digitally accessible (see list below). They represent various periods, regions and audiences. Taken together, these 85,000 Dutch-language pages offer a representative image of the lives of Dutch immigrants in the US during this century. Via two Dutch databases, researching these papers can be combined with other periodicals from the Netherlands at large and the province of Zeeland in particular.
Go to the website Delpher and select the titles of the newspapers that are relevant for your search. Or go to Krantenbank Zeeland and compare the Sheboygan Nieuwsbode with other Zeeland newspapers.
The Sheboygan Nieuwsbode, “The only Dutch newspaper in America, published each Tuesday,” was established on October 16, 1849. Editor Jacob Quintus copied the concept of the Zeeland newspaper, the Zierikzeesche Nieuwsbode. He decided to publish it in the fall of 1849 in Sheboygan (Wisconsin) because he had noticed a considerable demand for news from the Netherlands, America, and the various immigrant settlements. Soon after the launch, around 1,500 people had subscribed to his newspaper.
At that time, Winsonsin was a region of economic growth. However, when the core of economic developments shifted to Michigan in the late 1850s, he sold the newspaper to the German A. Pott, who continued publishing it until 1861. Quintus repeated his strategy in the city Grand Rapids, but these papers have not been preserved. Partly, the newspapers received revenues from political parties. The Nieuwsbode published alternately for the Democratic (1849-1854, 1857-1861) and Republican (1854-1857) parties. Quintus’ formula was copied in various places by other Dutch immigrants. The concept itself did not really change. The newspapers offered an increasing amount of American news, Dutch and European news items (often copied from exchange subscriptions), local news items by correspondents, and many advertisements.
The prominent role played by the Sheboygan Nieuwsbode in the 1850s, was assumed by De Grondwet after 1860. This paper was founded in 1860 in Holland (Michigan), where many other newspapers were published as well. The first ten volumes don’t survive. At the beginning of the twentieth century, this newspaper had the largest circulation in the entire Dutch-language press in the US with eight thousand subscribers. By providing political, business, and religious news from all corners of the Dutch-American community, De Grondwet was almost a national medium. It was published until 1938.
Something similar occured with De Volksvriend (1874-1935), brainchild of Henry Hospers from Orange City (Iowa). Also this journal offered much news and information for various kinds of small Dutch communities. In 1935 De Volksvriend merged with the English The Sioux County Capital and between 1952 and 1959 it appeared under the title The Sioux County Capital and De Volksvriend. This newspaper, sympathizing with the Republican Party, began with a modest circulation of 120 copies in 1874, and developed into a nationally appreciated medium for Dutch-Americans with a print of no less than six thousand copies.
The first two decades of the twentieth century were the hey-days of the Dutch press, with approximately fifty titles, among which there are also a considerable number of religious journals. The diversity increased, especially in the big cities. However, most titles had a small circulation, were only short-lived, or were only directed at a particular (religious) audience. Only a number of fifteen titles had a longer duration and a broader audience. After World War I, the immigrant newspapers experienced difficulties because of three developments. First, rising American patriotism gave non-English publications an anti-American image, especially those that resembled the German language. Secondly, the inflow of new immigrants slowly decreased due to legal limitations. And thirdly, the small newspapers were increasingly being forced out by competition by the big newspapers.
In Chicago, Onze Toekomst provided their Dutch Reformed readers with news from 1896 until 1959. It demonstrated a clear sympathy for the Republican Party. Only the issues between 1925-1952 have been preserved. Also at the East Coast, in and around the towns of Paterson and Passaic (New Jersey), there was a center of Dutch immigrants that published various newspapers. Het Oosten (1904-1940), claimed to be the “The Dutch Journal for the Public Interest,” but was in fact clearly Republican and Protestant in character. Only the issues between 1917-1920 and 1934-1936 have been preserved.
De Volksstem was one of the few Dutch-language Catholic magazine published in the United States. It was aimed at Dutch and Flemish Catholics in the region surrounding the city Greenbay, Wisconsin, but reached a much broader readership. Its political identity was Democratic. It was a Flemish-Dutch cooperation visible in the mixed editorial staff, J.A. Kuypers and J.B. Keyrman, and in the subsequent developments of the paper. In the 1950s, many local newspapers went bankrupt because the circulation plummeted and the importance of the Dutch language quickly decreased. Only by merges and voluntary support, some titles could continue. This happened to De Volksstem. In 1919 it merged with the Gazette van Moline, and later with De Gazette van Detroit. Since 1974 the bilingual journal is managed by volunteers, supported by a website.
|1849-1861||Sheboygan Nieuwsbode||First Dutch-language newspaper in the US, published in Sheboygan (Wisconsin). Alternating political sympathies. Regional functions.|
|1871-1938||De Grondwet||Republican weekly paper, published in Holland (Michigan). Source of information for all Dutch communities across the US.|
|1874-1935||De Volksvriend||Weekly paper, published in Orange City (Iowa). Read primarily by Dutch Protestants. Served the interests of the entire Dutch community in the US from a Republican perspective.|
|1890-1919||De Volksstem||Weekly paper, published in De Pere (Wisconsin). Was mainly aimed at the Catholics from the Netherlands and Flanders. Supporter of the Democratic Party.|
|1917-1920, 1934-1936||Het Oosten||Especially for the Dutch (Protestant) immigrants in the area of Paterson and Passaic (New Jersey).|
|1925-1959||Onze Toekomst||Wekly paper, published in Chicago (Illinois) with Republican and Calvinistic sympathies.|