The Ethnic Press in the United States: A Historical Analysis and Handbook

By Sally M. Miller | Go to book overview

6
The Dutch Press

LINDA PEGMAN DOEZEMA

Not unlike the publications of other foreign-language groups in the United States, the life story of the Dutch ethnic press parallels the story of Dutch immigration to the United States and is closely correlated to the acculturation process by which immigrant groups become ethnic groups. As argued by scholars of the ethnic press, 1 the function of these publications varies as the immigrant group works its way through the acculturation and assimilation process and displays decreasing dependence on the publications.

In his study of the immigrant press, Robert E. Park found thirteen Dutch- language publications in existence in 1920. 2 Joshua Fishman, Robert Hayden, and Mary Warshauer note that in 1930 non-English-language publications were still in the majority, but by 1960 English-language publications were in the majority among papers serving Americans of Dutch descent. 3 In 1979, out of sixteen Dutch ethnic publications, only one was published solely in Dutch and three were using Dutch and English. 4

The Dutch ethnic press has not had a stable existence. Out of approximately 105 publications that came into existence between 1849 and 1979, 87 either died, merged into other Dutch ethnic publications, or became general and non- ethnic periodicals. Of the sixteen remaining publications only five were published prior to World War I: The Banner, Church Herald (formerly The Leader), Missionary Monthly (formerly De Heidenwereld), New Horizons (originally Holland Home News), and De Wachter (The watchman). Nine of the sixteen were begun between World Wars I and II. Since the ethnic press was a product of immigration and because its persistence is, to some extent, based upon new arrivals, 5 the instability of the Dutch-American press may be partly attributed to the fact that Dutch immigration has been sporadic, taking place for the most part in several major waves rather than in a continuous flow.

Another destabilizing factor to be considered is the rate at which the immigrants discontinued the use of the Dutch language. These transplants were encouraged both by the preceding emigrants who greeted them in America and by the American economic and political structures to become Americanized. This proc

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