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January 7, 2011 / jmeuropeana

Europeanans abroad: Pella, Iowa

The brief of Europeana is to make accessible as much as possible of European (digitized) cultural heritage. And when you think about it, that also includes quite a bit of ‘stuff’ outside Europe:

  • European travellers describing other countries, customs and people (think of Marco Polo, but also von Humboldt),
  • European colonization – ‘we’ used to be all over the place. Perhaps not something we are proud of now, but a very defining activity, both for the colonized peoples and for Europe itself. Examples include the Dutch East-Indies and Namibia
  • And European settlers all over the place: the Americas, Australia, Africa.

The people that work at Europeana also like to travel. First of all, in the office we’re 15+ nationalities in a group of 35 people. And the job brings quite some travel with it as well, usually within Europe, but occasionaly outside. Over Christmas quite a few of our expats went home, or at least to their home countries. One example, and the reason I’m writing this post, is my colleague Alicia, who hails from the ‘Hawkey State’: Iowa in the USA. When she was there over Christmas she visited the town of Pella, a community of some 10.000 sould that was founded by a group of Dutch settlers.
And sure enough, combining traditional Dutch and traditional American, they boast the ‘tallest working windmill outside of the Netherlands’:

She also, just for fun, looked up Pella in Europeana, and found two (Dutch language) descriptions of the settlement, one written in 1848 by Hendrik Pieter Scholte, the minister who led the group of original settlers in 1847. The second is a book of letters, written under pseudonym by J. Nolten in 1858.
Eene stem uit Pella;A voice from Pella De Hollanders in Iowa : brieven uit Pella / van een Gelderschman ; met twee platen;The Dutch in Iowa: letters from Pella/ by a Gelderschman ; with two plates

The following is a plate from that last book, so this is how Pella looked like in 1858:
The town of Pella in 1858

When she shared the ‘tallest Dutch Windmill’ with us, I could not help looking for the ‘greatest Dutch Windmill’ in Europeana: Rotterdam-born boxing legend and Olympic champion of 1928 Bep van Klaveren, who because of his exceptional reach was nicknamed ‘the Dutch Windmill’. And sure enough, he is also represented in Europeana:
Boksen, Lambertus

Alicia, thanks for sharing! I’m always looking for stuff that people find interesting in Europeana, so if any of you want to share: please, leave a comment or send me a note.

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