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Hendrina Hospers (1880-1968) was a home missionary of the Women’s Board of Domestic Missions of the Reformed Church in America (RCA). She grew up in a Dutch-American Protestant colony led by her father, Henry Hospers. The colony, centered in Orange City, Iowa, was built around church and school, and Hendrina participated in both. She graduated from the Northwestern Classical Academy (affiliated with the RCA) in 1897. She taught in public schools until both her parents were dead. From 1907 to 1946, she worked as an RCA home missionary, first with the Chiricahua Apaches around Fort Sill, Oklahoma, and briefly around White Tail, New Mexico, then with the Jicarilla Apaches around Dulce, New Mexico. Her missionary career can be at least partially reconstructed from reports she made to denominational publications and from photographs. She embodied the piety instilled in the first American-born generation of the Dutch Reformed colonists who settled in the Midwest and West in 1847 and after. Moreover, she illustrates the understudied importance of single women, Protestant and Catholic, in expanding and sustaining American Christian mission work—domestic and foreign—in the late nineteenth and first half of the twentieth century. Finally, and beyond being a type, she lived into both sides of a paradox. One the one hand, she was an integral part of the overturning of the lifeways of particular Native American peoples. Yet on the other hand she was integral to the adaptation and survival of those same peoples. She was neither simply a white cultural disrupter nor a white cultural transformer. She was a woman of her time and culture who also managed to partially transcend these through the “lowly service” of living much of her life among Apaches.

About the Author

Dr. Doug Anderson specializes in the history of the American West and American religious history. He earned a doctorate in the latter subject and spent a year studying at the Buffalo Bill Historical Center in Cody, Wyoming.

He is co-author of Pilgrim Progression: The Protestant Experience in California, and his articles and book reviews have been published in Western Historical Quarterly, Religion and American Culture, and Fides et Historia, as well as in encyclopedias of the Great Plains and American West.

He has also teamed with other religion scholars on a comprehensive and comparative study of the impact regions have on religion's role in American public life, which resulted in eight geographically based books.

In 2014, Dr. Anderson co-authored a history of Orange City, Iowa, the town where Northwestern College is located. Part of the "Images of America" series by Arcadia Publishing, Orange City traces the development of the town from its founding in 1869 through the present.

Currently, Dr. Anderson is working on an institutional history of Northwestern College.



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