The Wives (and Lives) of Early Dutch Pastors
Janet Sjaarda Sheeres
For Better, For Worse:
Stories of the Wives of Early Pastors of the Christian Reformed Church
Thursday, November 8, 2018, 7:00pm
Ryerson Auditorium, Grand Rapids Public Library
Contrary to expectation, the stories of early local pastors’ wives
are riveting. When Janet Sjaarda Sheeres was editing a 700-page tome on early synod minutes of the Christian Reformed Church (1857-1880), she realized that she had waded into an all-male world, where women’s concerns were seldom considered and their stories never recorded.
Sheeres immediately recognized a worthy historical subject! She has been in the business of finding the remarkable in seemingly ordinary women, their stories virtually always sidelined in early historical records. From lists of births, she has illustrated the lives of early Dutch midwives; from shipping indexes, created pictures of single women immigrants crossing the Atlantic on their own. Now she has turned her attention to pastors’ wives, a group of women whom no one else has thought to consider.
The biographies of early male ministers have been well documented. Rescuing their wives from obscurity in her new book,
For Better, For Worse
, Sheeres proves they were important community builders in their own right, and highlights their living conditions and the challenges they faced. Her fascinating slides will also make visible aspects of their lives and give us another angle on nineteenth-century area history.